Today is the third-week anniversary of welcoming a small tornado into our home. Hazel is a fifteen-pound, nine-week-old mutt puppy, a whirling fuzzball of clumsy, bounding energy. I’ve wanted a dog for a long time, and she’s awesome, except when she isn’t. Recently, after examining my bloodied lip in the mirror, I began thinking about what to expect when you’re expecting a puppy. Cohabitation with a baby anything is going to rock you, and while you can never fully prepare for what is in store, there are some things you should know. Namely, that it isn’t all sliding down jerky rainbows into piles of Cottonelle…
Here is some unsolicited advice on the matter:
12 Ways to Prepare for a Puppy
1. Roll up any throw rug or carpet that isn’t stapled to the floor or already piss-colored. If you’ve got wall-to-wall ivory carpeting, invest in a solid gallon of odor-eating pet-centric carpet cleaner. Or don’t get a puppy.
2. Lock up your jewelry. Got a cute pair of earrings for your birthday? Put them away. Ditto to necklaces, rings, bracelets, and especially facial-piercings. Puppies are like ostriches—they lose their tiny little minds over shiny objects securely fastened to your body.
3. While you’re at it, put away all things at pup-level… power cords, shoes, books, space heaters, hampers, those really nice sheepskin slippers. Then make or buy some bitter spray and douse the crap out of anything that remains… table legs, curtains, counter corners, wooden chairs, stairs, your bare feet. Get used to yelling This is why we can’t have nice things! It becomes a sort of mantra in the months to come. Think about getting it embroidered on something. But not a pillow, because she’ll work that, too.
4. Pull your hair back and put your hand-modeling aspirations on hold. She’s going to tear your ass up. Read up on the honey badger. It is going to feel like you’re living with one.
5. Also, plan on wearing the same ratty hoodie and your least favorite pair of pants every day. For the next two months they will slowly be ripped to shreds, enraged Hulk-style.
6. Think hard about what you want to name your puppy, but don’t think too hard, or nothing will sound right and you’ll just start repeating sounds and wondering if they are actual words. When you ask a friend if Cabbage would be a cute name, or maybe, Toaster, you know you’re in the black hole.
7. You’re going to want to crate train. Deck it out like a heady little den. Puppy will love it and so will you when you need just five damned minutes to make the morning coffee and pee without getting hamstringed.
8. When it comes to toys, keep it simple. You may be dazzled in the toy section of the pet store by squeaky hedgehogs and furry monkeys, but there’s a solid chance that your pup’s favorite go-tos will be the tried trio: stick, ball, rag. Which, of course, still take second place to hand and ankle. Even food takes second to hand and ankle.
9. Remember that puppies are like mice. They can defy physics to weasel, squeeze, and contort through tiny, odd-shaped spaces you wouldn’t believe. Remember too, that their brains aren’t that big. They will get stuck. A lot.
10. Get comfortable going outside barefoot in your underwear, in the snow, in the dark, a couple of times a night. Remind yourself how bad you wanted this as you shimmy and shiver. Also, although ear plugs help in getting through the first week, don’t put too much faith in them. They are only neon bits of foam, not lab-grade pharmaceuticals.
11. Don’t be too upset when the puppy outsmarts you. I mean, she’s a crafty bitch, and you’re sleep-deprived and rendered momentarily insane by The Cuteness. It happens. Enjoy it. Fall upon her when she is sleepy to get in your daily cuddles. Squeeze to hear her grunty pig noises.
12. And if you get in a fight, just make sure you make up again. She didn’t mean to hurt your feelings or your flesh, she’s just teething.