Last night was one of those episodes that are so bizarre that you wake up in the morning wondering if it really happened or if you dreamed it all. An exercise in the hilarity of life, to be sure.
I was not expecting that I would sleep very much. My partner, who enjoys a quiet home, gave in to my desire to bring home a new fur baby after our beloved husky/malamute/question mark passed away. The criteria for bringing baby home: she is my responsibility at all hours of day and especially night.
When he asked me this past weekend, Are you sure you are ready for a puppy? I had responded, Right now I am. If you ask me the day after, I might have a different answer.
Well, my answer has not changed, I am just a bit more groggy than I was a couple of days ago.
I have raised puppies before, but it has been a while. I remember vaguely that they are a lot of work. I remember bringing home two labrador siblings from the tender age of 5 weeks and then reading in a dog training book that if you want two dogs, adopt one, train it, and then get another when dog #1 is a year or two old. There was also a clause about how challenging it can be to potty train two puppies as opposed to one.
There I was, a puppy under each arm. Damnit, I thought. Too late now.
At the time, I lived in a pseudo-renovated barn in the upper Skagit Valley of Washington state, a few feet shy of the North Cascade mountain range. Glacial view from my tiny bathroom window, water flowing into my home through a rickety backwoods system
from a creek that likely derived from a glacial lake somewhere up in the mountains.
To get puppies outside to potty, I had to scoop them up just as they were getting into position, lift a trap door that was attached to a cable that ran from the front room, along a line just below the ceiling, out through the back of the house, and then held down with an enormous weight, run down the stairs and out the front door. My partner at the time and I opened and closed that trap door so many times during potty training that one day the cable snapped and the door came crashing down.
When people wished us luck our first night with puppy this past Sunday, I vaguely recalled crying puppies in a crate at the foot of my Washington barn home.
We put little fur baby Naih in a large cat carrier and got into bed. Yipping, barking, and tiny but powerful howling commenced only moments later.
Knowing that it was counter to training recommendations, baby came out of the carrier and onto the bed. She went to sleep but woke up several times and plodded around between us, from one pillow to the next and back again to lie in the valley created by our two bodies.
After this sequence had been moved through several times, my partner groaned in irritation. Knowing that I had signed on for this, I picked up baby, put on a robe, and wandered out (stumbled was more like it) into the living room. We ran back and forth, went out to potty, and settled onto the couch until morning. All in all, it wasn’t the worst night.
The next day, I researched how to get puppy to sleep through the night and realized I had instinctively done just about everything wrong possible.
Do not respond to crying baby by taking her out to play. This will set the expectation that nighttime is playtime rather than sleeping time.
Do not praise the shit (my choice of words, not Google’s) out of baby when she goes potty outside in the middle of the night. Nighttime potty time is business and not playtime.
The next night, we set up a larger kennel and put comfy blankets and a toy inside. Naih was not to be foiled, however. Yipping, barking,and yowling commenced once more. We ignored her, and she quieted down for a bit. Then more yipping, barking, and yowling.
Maybe she has to go potty? I suggested? The article I read said to bring them out to potty if they cry and then put them back in the crate.
Potty trip was successful. Return to crate was less so.
I brought her out to the living room and onto the couch to snuggle.
Hours later, I heard my sweetie’s voice in the night. Looks like she peed and pooped. He scooped her up and brought her outside.
Pee = affirmative. What was thought to be poop = cat puke (not as gross as puppy poop to clean up but still not the most enjoyable)
We traded places outside. I sat quietly while baby Naih wandered around distracted instead of getting to work.
I heard a rummaging sound and looked to my partner’s car. I gave a good kick to the front. Nothing. I kicked a couple more times.
When baby and I returned to bed, I whispered to my partner, I think the packrat is in your car. We had just spent $300 to repair damages from a packrat that had chosen our Honda Fit as the perfect place to store dozens of apples, branches, and nesting material.
My partner got out of bed and walked out into the living room. I heard a zipper and realized he was taking a pellet gun his son had used a few days earlier out of its padded case.
Huh, I thought, and fell asleep.
What seemed like hours later, I awoke and noticed the empty space beside me in our bed. Was that car engine running outside?
A light was on outside. I opened the front door.
The front hood of each car was propped open. My sweetie stood with a pellet gun propped up on his hip. A tiny glass sat atop my Toyota. Was that whiskey inside, I wondered?
I placed little Naih on the ground and instructed her to go potty. She took a tiny branch in her mouth and proceeded to bop around like a baby goat.
What are you doing?
Trying to get rid of the $300 packrat.
Fair enough, I said.
I looked around at the scene. Wandering puppy. Human with pellet gun. This was certainly not an image from my time in Massachusetts, but it was comical nonetheless.
Are you going to stay out here all night? I asked.
I’m going to shoot these rounds and then come back inside.
Ok. I scooped up baby and headed back inside, bracing myself for the sounds. When they came, they were more benign than I had imagined.
Back in bed, Naih fell asleep between us. In the morning, I awoke to find her upper body on my sweetie’s pillow and the rest of her on mine.
Well, I see she has chosen her place on the pillows, my partner said. Should be interesting when she is 60 lbs.
She’s lucky she’s cute, I said.