A Pet Peeve
My Son wanted a dog from the age of 4. He kept asking, I kept ignoring him. Then in 2014, his dad wanted a dog. I was outnumbered. A big dog they said. I said 'maybe' a Chihuahua. The husband reached out to a breeder in Australia, he said it would take a year before the puppy arrived. I had time to mentally prepare myself. A week later he showed us a video of 5 puppies in a row and said pick one. My heart warmed but I scolded: you said a year. He went oops that was another breeder. My then 9 year old looked at the video with love emoji's in his eyes.
There were 3 identical yellow labs, but the kid pointed to one. We threw some names around. Ginger? She was beige. Tiffany? Pearls, really? I said Giggles and we all squealed in delight, yes that was her, mischief in her eyes and dance in her stride. She made us laugh with her absolute cuteness.
The day arrived 5 September 2014, and we were on our way to collect Giggles from Changi Airport, Singapore. We were so nervous we missed a few turns. Giggles sister Sole (joining an Italian family) traveled with her. The Italians beat us to it, they had perfect sense of direction. My son and I went through the rooms looking for Giggles while the husband parked. There she sat in her crate smeared in poo. The minute she spotted us she jumped, pawing at the gate. She didn't question our punctuality after her 8-hour ordeal. It was as if she was shown a picture of us before she boarded that flight and told, that’s your family .
We placed her crate in the back seat of our sedan and my son talked to her the entire route. The smell in the car was... lets just say shitty. Once home we washed and scrubbed her a couple of times and fed her before we hugged her. She wagged that tail all through, a wee 4-month-old. She wolfed down her food in seconds and we looked at each other and thought, surely, that’s not normal to swallow the kibble?
Once dry, she ran around the house torn between exploring the place and running back to our hugs, she had come home. And in that moment, I became a dog person. She had a few accidents and I felt like a new mother, overwhelmed. What should I do to avoid accidents ? How often should I feed her if she kept looking hungrily and drooled while we ate? The kibble looked too dry. Would she choke? We started soaking the kibble and it ballooned in her bowl and we thought, yes, this must be right. Later a vet said God no! Kibble is meant to be dry and will expand in her stomach. Big thwack on the head.
I invited a couple who had 2 Schnauzer's and got some insight. I invited another friend who trained dogs and got her tips. My husband had bought 2 books by Pippa Mattison and I reached out for guidance. We lived in an apartment back then, so we had to take the lift 4 levels down for a patch of grass. We jotted down the time of her wee with a marker on the glass kitchen wall and took her down every 15 mins. The puppy and I were tired. Too much walk for a puppy, too much work for mummy. But the accidents at home stopped. Then as the days progressed we increased the gap from 30 mins interval to 40 mins and finally we reached an hour. By this time we were down to 8 trips a day and soon the day came when it was down to 4. Yippee! Her bladder was under control. She went to the door to signal she wanted to do her business. Life was good.
I was exhausted during those early months. And I cussed at my husband for putting me in that situation. Our life now is the 4 of us. When my Son was a toddler, I hosted people with kids so he had the social interaction. Once Giggles came we only hosted people who liked dogs. My Son talks about Giggles following him to college. He calculates her age to see how old she’ll be by then. He talks about the day she’ll leave us. I know I won't be able to love another dog.