A dog-less friend is adopting an eight-week-old puppy this week. She’s been planning this for months. She’s done her homework. Read the books. She’s about to become the next pup whisperer.
As we ate lunch and she talked about her plans for bringing up her labordoodle, I felt like I’d failed drastically in my parenting role (yet again), this time with our two mutts. When her kids come home from school, they’re to walk into the house, straight past the pup, and sit on the sofa before they engage the little guy. This is to train him not to get excited by their arrivals and departures, and to keep him from becoming an alpha dog, I think.
Next, she’ll have the kids head back outside, walk up to the door, ring the bell, and come in, again and again, so the puppy becomes de-sensitized to the comings and goings of folks. All I could think of was how that very morning, when my kids were bummed that our now five-year-old dogs were too lazy to go outside to wait for the bus with them, my son’s solution was to ring the doorbell—which got both dogs tearing out the front door, barking like fools at a phantom guest.
Feeding time? We’re supposed to make dogs earn their food, or something like that, and not let them beg for it. Each morning my dogs remind me that I’ve yet again neglected to feed them breakfast by barking at me and hitting my arms as I type away at my laptop. And I can never remember if I’ve fed them dinner, so I ask them. If they respond to my question, “Have you had dinner yet?” with enthusiastic tail wags and barks, it means no; if they just glance at me, it means yes. I’m realizing I’ve been far too lazy with this dog mothering thing.
From the day I went to that Walmart in Alabama in search of curtains and instead came home with two stray pups from its parking lot (I know, it sounds like the start of a Kate DiCamillo book), there has been some training taking place in our family: two very clever, mixed German Shepherd mutts have trained us very well. Ever since they once ran off in Birmingham, we’ve used the promise of biscuits to get them to come in the house. They still expect one anytime they come inside, and thus as soon as they go out they often bang on the door to come right back in. And we, well-trained, oblige. Our night beds are their day beds. We won’t cook up bacon unless there’s enough for them. I could go on but I try to keep the word count of these blog entries reasonable.
My friend wants to bring her new puppy out to meet our dogs eventually. Have playdates. I think that’s lovely. But I warned her: With the dogs, I’m that mom. You know, the one who has no rules, whose kids run wild and are a menace to society. You leave and think, “Has she ever even read a parenting book?”
Yeah. That’s what happens when you go to Walmart for curtains and get two dogs instead and then never pause a moment to think, am I doing this right?
Hope my human kids are faring better.