Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Puppies Are Coming, The Puppies Are Coming

The big news in our house is our younger dog is about to have puppies. This wasn’t my idea. I’m not known for standing up for myself – I say yes a lot and the word “no” doesn’t pass my lips too frequently, so when my husband suggested we breed our new dog, I practiced saying “no” - a lot.

I think he knew I was just practicing because he didn’t seem to hear me.

I brought him literature on why spaying was the healthy choice. I suggested he read online literature about how much work went into getting a “bitch” ready for breeding and how expensive the whole ordeal is upfront. He never indicated if he clicked any of the links. What I heard from him was how he’d always wanted to breed a dog since he was a little boy.

So doggie never got spayed. She got inseminated.

We have two Portuguese Water Dogs. We had them before Obama and even before Kennedy. Our older one, Splash, is about to turn 11. He’s a huge pain in the old you know what. We love him because he’s ours, but he is a nightmare.

When my oldest daughter was 4 she said she wanted a dog. My husband and I told her we would discuss it again when she was 7. She didn’t forget. On her 7th birthday, she wanted to know where her dog was.

My husband has terrible allergies to just about everything. He’d married me and my cat and suffered through rounds of shots in order to live with her. He didn’t want to do that for a dog. So we looked at “hypoallergenic” dogs – or dogs with hair, not fur. Thus we ended up with an extremely lively breed – a breed that really needs to be exercised a lot, a lot more than we have ever done.

My daughter got her dog when she was 7 1/2 and my younger daughter was 4. Having an exuberant dog with two young children wasn’t such a great idea.

Long story short, the first dog was not ideal. He was hard to train. He lunged after motorcycles, jumped out the car window when he was four months old and I was driving 35-40 miles an hour. We have spent thousands of dollars on dog psychologists, doggie boot camp, and trainers but nothing seems to have worked. Friends and family have repeatedly suggested we put him down. Maybe we should have, but our two young daughters loved that dog and relied on him for more than anyone could fathom, so my husband and I decided the better solution was to lock him up whenever anyone visits.

Two years ago we got another dog. My younger daughter really wanted a puppy and I wanted a second dog before Splash died and before our oldest daughter left home. Lots of people thought we were crazy. Certifiably insane. But we lucked out. Spray is the sweetest, most docile creature you can image. She comes when she’s called. She drops the food in her mouth when you ask her. She walks on the sidewalk without a leash. She sleeps in our bed, which my husband said he would never allow any dog to do. She sits in an armchair with her paws drooped over the arm and looks like a human.

So my husband’s fantastic idea was born – let’s breed Spray – she’s so cute, so sweet. She’s got such a great temperament. Imagine the puppies. All I could imagine was the work. I knew who would end up doing 90% of it. No matter what anyone else said, I knew. Who walks the dogs more than anyone else? Who feeds them more than anyone else? Who’s home with them more than anyone else and lets them in and out, in and out, in and out all day long while correcting papers or writing.

My husband needed time to think. A year. Eventually I stopped badgering. If you can’t fight ‘em, join ‘em? Surprisingly I got excited to see the pups and watch them grow. And my daughters wanted to do it before the oldest one left for college.

Then my husband started to read and realized how much work it really was and how hard it might be on the dog and suggested we back out. Oh no, I said, we’re in this now. Don’t be stupid, he said.

Stupid or not, I’ve taken the dog for multiple vet appointments; my husband accompanied me to the two insemination appointments. Those were interesting, and the puppies are due in ten days or so.

I really am excited. Spray is getting fatter, her nipples are protruding; she is nesting. But I’m also terrified. I have to teach, my husband has to work, the kids have to go to school and we’re going to have at least five puppies to take care of for eight weeks. But they’ll be a great distraction while we wait to hear from colleges, and they’ll keep me busy so I won’t obsess about next year. Even though I wish I knew how to say no so it is heard, my daughters can’t wait and it will be fun to have a family adventure.

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