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Musings of a Pandemic Puppy Owner

Melissa Cranmer

Posted on November 11, 2020 19:31

8 users

Prior to the pandemic, we owned one spoiled, but well-adjusted dog. Chewy is a dog owner's dream. He doesn't chew (contrary to his name), dig, bite, growl or bark. He doesn't run away (despite our derelict fence), he doesn't jump on guests, and he doesn’t beg for food. I'd love to claim responsibility – that his good manners and lovely disposition are due to my awesome dog parenting skills – but I can't. In truth, we were just lucky. Really, really lucky.

My kids have campaigned for a second dog for years, but as a parent well-practiced in the word "no," their efforts were fruitless. Then, my daughter upped her game: she noted that Chewy, now accustomed having us home all day, would be sad once the pandemic was over. I have a big soft spot for Chewy. As the only member of the house who doesn't sass, argue, make messes or complain about my cooking, he's my mood enhancer. I've spent more on spa treatments for Chewy than I’d ever dream of spending on myself.

So when kid #3 saw a post on Nextdoor from someone trying to find homes for a litter of abandoned Chihuahua puppies, I caved. Until now, I've only owned large breeds, but hey, a puppy is a puppy. At least that’s what I thought.

Moose, at six weeks old, weighed 1.5 pounds when he arrived. He had worms and was infested with fleas, but the vet declared him otherwise healthy. He asked if I'd ever owned a Chihuahua. I replied no and asked if he had any tips. He chuckled, then said "Training, training, training. Find a good, professional trainer to help. Moose is a cutie, but he's a pistol." Then he added that Moose looked like he might be part Jack Russell Terrier, and that this breed can be challenging as well.

In other words, Moose was double trouble.

The vet wasn't wrong. At 13 weeks, Moose still isn't housetrained. He marks (pees on) anything that smells like dog (including Chewy's orthopedic dog bed). Despite outdoor potty breaks every 20 minutes, he soils the floors multiple times a day with a seemingly endless supply of "doggie biz." He chews everything except his dog toys. He growls at strangers, bites, and begs shamelessly. He barks at birds, squirrels, cars, wind, puddles, stop signs, large rocks and everything else. As if homeschooling isn't difficult enough, I find myself pausing mid-math lesson to clean up after Moose. We can't leave Moose alone outside, partly because of our dilapidated fence, and partly because he'd make some creature a nice snack. I’ve questioned the wisdom in getting a puppy many times.

But things are improving, albeit slowly. Moose just completed a six-week puppy bootcamp, and while he didn't graduate, he did make progress. He is highly motivated by food, so he is trainable. We bought a used baby playpen, and he's learned that doing his biz in that (instead of on the floor) earns him treats. After some immersion therapy (i.e., locking them in the same room), Chewy has accepted Moose as a family member, and is almost convinced he's a dog (and not a rodent).

Plus, Moose really is cute. He likes to chew pizzle sticks, but only if he gets to chew them while curled up in your lap. It makes it hard to stay mad at him.

Would I do it again? Ask me six months from now. Maybe he'll be housetrained by then.

Melissa Cranmer

Posted on November 11, 2020 19:31

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