An unexpected addition to the family
  • Sue Hawley

An unexpected addition to the family

We all face those weeks that just don’t go as planned. Family problems, weather related fiascos, car challenges: the list is endless. However, there are moments when an unforced error occurs that just plain turns everything upside down. This was one of those times.

Our youngest son lives with us while he saves money for a down payment on a house. He brings in wood for our much-needed wood burner, deals with the trash, and does all the odd jobs that come up. We aren’t young anymore and it’s nice to have someone do the stuff we don’t want to at this point in our lives. He likes to consider himself the favorite child considering how much he does for us… (which is a different blog!). Having said that, not every decision he makes is perfect.


Said son has wanted a dog of his own for years. I’ve always put my foot down and told him no way. We already have a dog- a sweet, older, slightly fat and lazy mutt who fits our life very nicely. A hard 'no' has worked perfectly until last Friday when he informed me (thankfully after my morning coffee) he had bought a puppy. A puppy at my stage in life?? After ranting and raving, I sighed and decided maybe a puppy was exactly what he needed. It's good training for having kids of his own someday and can bring a deeper sense of responsibility- and learning his time isn't just his own anymore.



The new baby, Emma

The puppy made her entrance that night and my husband immediately melted and held her in his lap for two hours. Admittedly, she is cute and sweet. She’s at least part German Shepherd, but we’re not positive there isn’t another breed hidden in her DNA. The problem is she’s still an eleven-week-old puppy! So basically a baby, with all the work that goes with something that young. Saturday morning our son was exhausted. I took pity on him and I sent him to bed for a nap. Then, out of the blue, the electricity went out and we were without power for six hours. With a new puppy and no way to cook, make coffee, or flush the toilets. It was a long morning.


Puppies take a lot of work, time, and energy. Housetraining has to start right away- you have to watch them like a hawk and make a gazillion trips outside for potty walks no matter what the weather. We live in Northeast Ohio. It’s winter and it’s cold. The puppy isn’t stupid and realizes the house is much warmer than the yard. I don't blame her, really, for wanting to pee inside. The mere idea of peeing outside makes my bladder seize up. However, she has a fur coat. Like it or not she's not peeing on my carpet (yes, it's old, but it’s clean). So, no matter how cold it is we drag her butt outside- but we have to catch her before she has a stealth pee around the corner in a quiet corner. Slowly but surely she is coming along. It’s a process, like it is with all kids.


As of today, she can sit, come, and about a quarter of the time actually go to the door when she needs to go outside and potty. This is an old house which has seen additions as each generation needed more room. It rambles and meanders and I have a lot of doors. We've used baby gates to close off most of the house and keep her near us. She has access to only two doors right now but, of course, they are at different points in the house. Sometimes we go out one door and by the time she's found the perfect spot to pee she's forgotten which door to go back to and ends up at the wrong (ie, locked) door. It’s a process.


Since our son works second shift, this sweetie is my responsibility from 2pm until 10pm when I crate her and drop into bed. I’m pretty much a wreck at this point. My hair has seen better days since wearing a hat in nine-degree weather is a must and I swear I’m aging with each passing hour. Many folks have given us advice, some good, some lousy, but I’ve trained pups before- just not Shepherd’s and they are a bit different. At this point, I don’t need advice. I just need a younger body and younger energy level. Raising puppies and kids are definitely not for my generation. I've finally told my son he needs to step up and be a better doggy dad. Like the strong, responsible man I know him to be he's getting his shift switched soon so he can take care of his little sweetie. I don't mind babysitting but my days of full on parenting (kids or pets) are thankfully long behind me! Of course, actual writing has been out the window these past seven days. Needless to say, this week has gone very differently than planned. It’s simply life.


New dad, so sleepy