Well, my friends, the stage is set for Fitzgerald’s arrival. The food bowls are waiting, the gates are up, the baby bed is soft and cozy, the crate is assembled and we have, possibly, every type of puppy toy imaginable. Did you know, for example, that they make Kong Binkies, which are in the shape of pacifiers? He now has two.
On Sunday, we get to pick up our little bundle of joy and I couldn’t possibly be more excited. I mean, I guess I could be if I wasn’t slightly nervous too, but maybe being nervous is the same thing as being excited, just a little less fun.
Why nervous? Well, this is the first time I’ve ever had a dog, so that’s one. Second, over the past few weeks, I’ve read two books — one about positive reinforcement dog training, another specifically about Boston Terriers (which is what Fitzi is). It was the potty training sections in particular that intimidated me. You see, both books said that a puppy’s bladder cannot be relied upon and so I’ll need to take him outside every 30 to 60 minutes to let him do his business. I immediately calculated my day into half-hour increments and realized that, other than letting him pee, I will get nearly exactly nothing done in the meantime.
Over the years, my writing routine has become extremely elaborate: Pandora yoga radio, lit candles, cup of tea, soft lighting, and, most importantly, complete quiet for hours at a time. (Yes, I’m aware I’m super obnoxious.) But obviously, all of this is going to be turned on its head by a little puppy who could possibly be peeing on anything at any minute of the day.
We have, luckily, fenced off the kitchen so he’ll be limited in his explorations. My husband installed gates a few weeks ago on the day he announced it was time to set up “the nursery” (Melt. My. Heart.) He spent a good hour getting the gates up, making sure they were installed perfectly. Then, last week, in the middle of a blackout caused by a felled power line, he tested their sturdiness by forgetting they were there. As he relayed the story to me the next morning, and showed me the jet-black bruises on his abdomen, forearm and finger, he walked so hard into one that it upended him. It didn’t result in a complete somersault, but it did send his feet kicking into the air.
“So yeah, I know that no puppy in the world is going to be able to knock those suckers down,” William confirmed.
Bruises aside, Gabrielle and I have both gotten such a kick out of watching William prepare. As I said before, my husband isn’t much of a softy, but puppy preparation has taken his heart and stitched it directly on his sleeve. One afternoon, he spent about five hours researching collars. Yep. Five. By the time he was done, he was sold on a leather collar made by the same company that supplies them to the British royal family, Elton John and Bono.
That’s another issue we’ve resolved. Initially, William was against dog sweaters, jackets or accessories of any kind. But after we read the book on Bostons, we learned the breed is sensitive to cold and heat. Bonus! Gabrielle and I are now free to start building a wardrobe and, yes, a wardrobe it will be. Jury is still out on bow ties, which Gabrielle is lobbying hard for, but I have a feeling she’ll get her way on that one too.
And who will be happy to add to our collection? Auntie Jennie! Last night, a huge package arrived from Edmonton wrapped in brown paper and tied with postal string (Aside: I love it when people do that; one day I’m going to be organized enough to do it too). Inside were treats galore, including split antler bones, sweet potato fries, crunchy treats with banana, ones with pumpkin and blueberry, and bacon and cheese-flavored treats complete with kale, spinach and wheatgrass.
Jennie, my brother Matthew’s wife, is mom to baby Stevie, a Lab mix who is about seven months old. She even had Stevie “sign” the card she sent us by putting ink on his paws. I mean, honestly, how sweet.
But that’s one thing I’ve learned about dog ownership: It brings people together. I mean, people really love dogs, it turns out. And, once you’re part of the dog-owning club, they’re happy to hear your stories and offer tips. What an unexpected gift.
Anyway, this Sunday, we’ll be in Perryville, Ky., picking up the Babe. I’ve been told to enjoy smelling the puppy breath (which I imagine is something you just have to experience) and seeing the million ways he’ll instantly fall asleep. Oh, we’ve also been advised to enjoy every minute. Which I’m pretty sure we will.