Thursday, June 3, 2010

The New Normal

My family’s life is back to normal, if having three dogs in the city is normal. I still feel like the neighborhood Crazy Dog Lady.

Even though our house doesn’t look like a kennel anymore, when the wind blows in a certain direction or it’s rained a lot, a distinct odor of puppy pee permeates the air. Our backyard, however, has been transformed permanently from a yard for people into a packed dirt yard perfect for dogs to roll around on.

We no longer wake up and have to feed ten puppies or clean up after ten puppies or entertain ten puppies or worry about where they’re going to end up or say good-bye to each of them.

When the ten puppies lived with us, there was a purpose and excitement to our day, despite how tired and dirty we were. We had to take care of the puppies; we needed to raise them well so they would make great pets for other people. With them gone we have returned to regular folk with a new puppy who needs to be trained because she chews chairs and shoes, and jumps up on us, and I no longer have a viable excuse for why my house is messy. I’ve had to start spending a little part of each day cleaning it.

But keeping on top of the mess with just three dogs isn’t easy. Cranky, Calm and Cute bring in a lot of dirt and take up a lot of space in our house with their barking and roughhousing.

Cranky, aka Splash, is old and isn’t amused by the new puppy in the house. He’s content to just lie around without being bothered. Spray and Ezzie, however, find it immensely enjoyable to get up in his face and taunt him. They dart up close enough to annoy him and then run away hoping he’ll chase them. He doesn’t. He just barks at them. Loudly.

Spray and Ezzie, however, have a great relationship, although I think Spray is a little jealous of Ezzie and all the attention she’s getting.

Spray is remarkably gentle with her daughter. When they play tug-of-war, Spray lets Ezzie win, when she could easil whip her around like kids do when they play Crack-the-Whip. She still cleans Ezzie periodically and is protective when we walk them together.

I’ve also found it more difficult to get my kids to help with the three dogs than when we had the ten puppies. Walking and feeding three is more of a chore than an adventure.

I forgot how exhausting and time consuming taking care of one puppy can be, especially when there are two older dogs around. I assumed once nine of the puppies were gone, one would be easy. I was wrong. But I also didn’t anticipate how much fun I’d have watching one puppy – Ezzie – grow and develop.

We took all three dogs to New Hampshire this past weekend, and the two older dogs knew where they were immediately. They romped around with ease and comfort. Ezzie explored. When we took them to the lake to swim, Splash and Spray were ecstatic. They wasted no time running in the water. Ezzie watched and walked out a few feet, but didn’t go in over her head.

Within a few minutes, however, she wandered after them a little too far and instinct took over and she started swimming. She loved it. We can’t get her to jump off a dock yet, but she looks like she’s interested. Splash was our jumper, but in his old age, he stands at the edge looking over remembering but not daring, while Ezzie looks over the edge and is tempted. The torch has been passed.