Posted by: thewoobdog | October 24, 2012

Not Quite Schadenfreude

But I confess, the word did come to mind… Not that I’m enjoying the misfortune of others, not at all, but I am sort of sitting on the sidelines in slightly amused pity, reflecting that I sure am glad it’s not me (anymore).

I remember when I got my first puppy – I had something akin to postpartum depression for the first few days after I brought the little furball home, wondering what on earth I’d been thinking and despairing over ever being able to take care of this tiny little bundle of Constant Need.  It didn’t help that I had to bring her home earlier than expected, before I was really set up to care for a puppy, nor that she was an escape artist who would not stay confined.  I remember sitting with her at my kitchen table, bawling and feeling terribly guilty because part of me wanted to take her back, but I already absolutely adored her and couldn’t face the possibility that she would feel rejected at being passed around like a little fosterling.  [As an aside – I expect this memory is at least partly responsible for my lack of desire to have kids, as one doesn’t exactly have the option of returning them and they take a lot longer to grow out of the Constant Need phase.]  I’d grown up with dogs, puppies, gerbils, guinea pigs, a horse, and various birds, so I had an idea of what to expect, plus I’d done months of research on the breed and puppy-raising and dog behavior and training and what-have-you, but the reality was overwhelming.

Eventually we worked out our relationship, although I despaired of ever house-breaking the little tyrant – I kept her penned in a 3’x3’ enclosure when I couldn’t keep a constant eye on her, and had decreed that until she proved trustworthy in the elimination department she wouldn’t have run of the apartment (I lived in a little efficiency with cream-colored carpet and furniture at the time, so lapses were not an option).  Add to that the fact that I couldn’t take her outside where I lived – a rescue dog taken in a couple of years before in the house sharing the yard had parvovirus that was eventually successfully treated but could nonetheless live on in the soil – until she’d had her full round of shots, and you can imagine my difficulty.  She was a tiny thing (even at full grown she’s only five pounds), so thankfully indoor training with peepads and litterboxes was an option, but it still took forever.  Even growing up with dogs, you don’t fully appreciate the amount of work they are until you have one of your very own.

She’s a complete joy now – crate trained, house-broken (something that can’t always be said of small dogs, I’ve noticed), and blindingly intelligent (you know, for a dog), and I can’t imagine life without her, but I’ll also never forget those first days when we were both completely miserable most of the time.  It’s come back with especial clarity because my sister-in-law and brother-in-law just got a new puppy – a very young new puppy that probably could have waited a couple more weeks for weaning, but as it was an unplanned litter of ten puppies I think the owners were getting a bit desperate – and we are starting to hear the stories.  My brother-in-law had pets growing up, so probably had a better idea of what was in store, but my poor sister-in-law was an Air Force kid and never experienced the joys and heartaches of having a dog.  Puppies are cute, adorable, cuddly little bundles of fur that demand constant attention, wake you up at night, and make messes out both ends – and, they’re a whole lot more mobile than your average baby…  I’m sure some of this is coming as a disillusioning shock to her, and not having grown up with dogs it’s probably near-impossible to imagine, in the midst of sleepless nights and messy crates, what a friendship is waiting on the other end of puppyhood.

I think I’ll go tell my (lovely, wonderful, smart, house-broken, sleeps-through-the-night, grown-up) little darling how wonderful she is, while I reflect on the advantages of adopting a full-grown rescue from the shelter next time around…



  1. This is so funny because it’s so like when experienced parents watch new parents struggle with their children.

    I can’t imagine owning a pet anymore. The good thing about kids is eventually they become self-sufficient. Domesticated animals rarely do. Except for that dog in Call of the Wild. Man, that was a good book. But I digress.

    • I, on the other hand, can’t imagine having kids! There’s so much angst if you screw them up. What am I saying, there’s whole heckload of angst even if you get it right…

      • Eh, kids can always get therapists. Do dogs have therapists?

    • Well, they have psychics… HAHAHA

      • Maybe I could get my kids a psychic!

  2. I just found my way here from the Madam McKinley web forum, and I enjoyed reading another account of the terrors of puppydom. I don’t know if I’ll ever raise a puppy myself (right now I can’t even have a fish, because I have no idea where I’ll be living next year) but its been fun experiencing the madness through Pavlova.

    • So true! Puppy-raising is so fun to WATCH, haha – especially the interaction with Chaos and Darkness. The looks they get on their faces just crack me up.

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