Please pardon the expression when I say that perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew when co-adopting a puppy with my mom and her mobility problems that make it difficult to participate in the training. But she loves the puppy and insists we keep her.
I tell our puppy I love her too in the same way I did when my cat’s health began to degenerate with old age and he became more and more difficult to care for. Despite litter box issues and vomiting, I’d still tell him I loved him every night before I went to bed. And when the time for him to leave this world finally came, I thought the grief would never end.
The bond I’m forming with Peggy the pug is just beginning to take root but it’s still very fragile. She’s still reluctant to come when I call, sometimes even when I remember to bring her favorite treats with me. She still doesn’t know to ask me to let her out to relieve herself leaving me to vigilantly watch for the signs. Then when she sits and stays I’m unsure if it’s for me or for the treat. How will I ever get her used to not having treats all the time?
But then I lift her up, even when she’s wiggly, I kiss her head and tell her that I love her because I truly believe that the more I say it, the more I’ll feel it.
Dogs are so different than cats. All I had to do with my cats was show them where the litter box was and they knew what to do. Dogs take more effort and Peggy is no exception. But every dog-parent I’ve met tells me it’s worth it. Besides, Peggy’s still a 3-month-old puppy. She’s still teething so we have to watch our fingers when we have her sitting near us. We also have to watch our shoes, shirts, jeans, and pajamas.
Then sometimes she’ll fall asleep while she’s at my side and that, to me, is some of our most precious time spent together. It usually takes place when we’re watching a movie. Lately I’ve been going through the French movies I have from the Criterion Collection. One French movie a day with my little puppy napping by my side.
I’ve also begun taking her on car rides to help her become acquainted with it because I want her to be a traveling dog. I put her in the carrier and strap the carrier to the seat. The only downside is that even with the air-conditioning on full-blast, she still gets a little hot in there and begins to pant. This isn’t surprising considering we’re dealing with the desert heat of an Arizona summer and I’ve read that pugs are particularly susceptible to temperature change and hyperthermia.
What does this mean for my creative life? Well, it was in shambles before Peggy arrived. The lockdown was brutal on my mental health and now restaurants and cafés are cautiously reopening. I can escape if I want but I won’t because there’s a dog who needs me.
The responsibility of owning a dog is much less strenuous than raising a human child I imagine. I’ve never had to raise a child, to go through changing diapers and potty training to finally see them grow up, graduate high school, and start testing their own independence. I’ve never had to live constantly second-guessing my choices in parenting a child, wondering if I made too many mistakes. No, I’ve reached middle age having been spared that kind of worry.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t have kids. I’m just saying I probably wouldn’t have made a great mom considering my mental illness and all the struggles I’ve had to face with it.
Peggy is my 4-legged kid, rebellious sometimes when I want her to come in, but sweet enough when she’s sleeping or when she looks at me with her dark brown eyes and her wrinkled little face that I can forgive her.
Has Peggy turned me into a dog person? We’ll see. I have to get past this exhausting puppy stage first and she’s only been with us for 2 weeks.