Sunday, March 21, 2010

Puppy or not puppy, that is the question

Within days after Argos passed away, I was offered a puppy by my neighbor. She would always see me walking him, and she felt sad to hear that I had to put him down. Her dog had just given birth to a litter of puppies (eleven of them!) and she said that I could have the pick of the litter. Not only that, but she said that she wouldn't charge me anything.

My initial reaction was that this would be a bad idea. After all, I have a baby due in August, and as my friend Andrew Nolan pointed out, you have to spend at least fifteen minutes a day with one of those things. Apparently it takes a week or two before you can just point to the fridge and tell them to help themselves when they get hungry. Also, I've heard that there might be a time or two when I can't just pass the baby over to my wife. Puppies require even more work, of course, as you have to teach them how to speak English and how to hotwire a car in case you lose your keys.

Here's the thing though. Even though I still have ol' Willy, I want another dog. One reason is that I want a guard dog. Argos wasn't just a pet - he had a job. That job was to bark at people walking by the house. Sure it was annoying sometimes, but it certainly made me feel better about leaving the house. From what I've read, a barking dog is a big deterrent to thieves. Also, walking is the only form of exercise that I enjoy. Kirsti and I have a stationary bike that's more of a piece of furniture right now. There's no way in hell I'd get a gym membership. I like walks, and I've found that if I don't take one every day, it starts to have an impact not only on my physical, but on my mental health as well. Having a dog gives me the motivation to go on a walk every day, as I feel guilty if I don't do it.

But why not Willy? Haven't I been making progress with him? Well, yes and no. He's definitely getting better at it, but the fact of the matter is that he's just not a good walker. He's still overwhelmed when he goes outside, and sometimes walking him is far more stressful than relaxing. One of my plans was to continue to take Argos on walks when I had the baby, but the baby would come along with us (usually in the stroller, but there are also those thingees where you wear the baby in front or in back. I haven't looked into those too much.) I fully realize, of course, that my walks might get cut short as the baby might want to stop for a beer or something. Still, I think that these walks would be good for me, the dog, and the baby. And one thing's for sure - I don't want Mr. Stress-case Willy going with us. Will he be a good ol' Uncle Willy indoors? I'm sure of it. But a walkin' Willy? Not so much.

After some discussion, Kirsti and I determined that maybe we should get an adult dog - either a German Shepherd or a Rottweiler (or a mix of the two, as Argos was). We have enough familiarity with both breeds where we feel confident that we can handle them. We actually went down to the animal shelter yesterday, but we didn't find anything that suited us. (There was a beautiful Shepherd, but somebody already adopted him.)

On the way home, we saw our neighbor, and we got to take a look at the puppies. In a word - they were awwwwwww so cute! This is a good enough of a reason to get one, I think. After all, things that are cute in the moment remain cute forever, and there is never any other thing to consider as cuteness trumps all. After all, Argos was cute as a puppy, and we never had any trouble with him because he was super cute. When he destroyed the side of our shed, it was okay, because he was cute.

Seriously though, we got to meet the parents of these puppies. The mother was pure Rottie, and when we came in, she calmly stood up and greeted us, not worrying for a second about us touching her puppies. In fact, she enjoyed a little attention herself. The father, who is half Jack Russel and half Australian Blue Heeler, was also a nice dog. He was a little bit more energetic than mommy, but he was friendly and docile. As for the puppies themselves, if you told me that they were 100% Rottie, I would have no problem believing it.

Kirsti and I are leaning towards accepting my neighbor's very generous offer. If Kirsti was due next month, then we'd easily turn it down. The fact of the matter is that we have several months to break the new puppy in before the baby is born. Sure, you can't completely train a puppy in that time, but training a dog is a continuous process. We've never had a baby before, but this isn't our first rodeo when it comes to getting a dog. This time, we go in with a lot more knowledge and preparedness, and we'll be able to select a dog with the right temperament for what we want. Also, Kirsti's taking the entire summer off, which will give her a lot of time with the puppy. As for myself, I'm going to have most of the summer off, and that'll give me a chance to socialize and train the dog.

I fully realize that you don't know what you're in for with a baby until you actually have one. I also fully realize that even though I fully realize that, I still probably don't fully realize that. Is it possible that this is a huge mistake? Sure. But you know what? I've been making mistakes my entire life, and I'm still here. Not only that, but I'm not going in this alone - I do have my wife with me. I've already heard some "It's a huge mistake!" bits of advice, and trust me when I say that it's nothing that I haven't already contemplated in my own head. After all, I've heard a rumor that some people, when they have a baby, actually wind up with two babies! Some wind up with as much as three! All at the same time! Of course, you don't hear about these babies too much, as our tradition is to leave them in the evil forest so they can die. There's no way you can possibly raise two babies at a time.

1 comment:

Nolan said...

I'm revising my figure up to 20 minutes a day. Did you realize they pee AND poo? And you have to clean both things???

I am in favor of you getting a puppy, not for your benefit but mine. I want to play with a puppy but not own it.