What to expect when you’re expecting… a puppy

In the three months since we got our puppy Cassie, I’ve realized that the idea of puppies as practice babies is actually not quite as eye-roll worthy as I previously suspected (perhaps I should stop rolling my eyes at everything as first instinct). Now if you’re done rolling your eyes, hear me out. First of all, I will preface this all by saying I don’t actually believe that the experience of raising puppies is comparable to that of raising human babies,* which is why I’m thrilled about getting a puppy but the thought of babies sends me cowering in (ironically) the fetal position, clutching my disposable income, my non-pukey hair, and my bottle of wine that will only kill my own brain cells.

I guess I’m saying puppies are comparable to babies in the same way that drawing a picture of a rocket ship is comparable to building an actual rocket ship: both presumably involve some tools, some knowledge of the characteristics of rocket ships, a bit of patience and dedication, and both result in a rocket ship, however only one of those rocket ships will actually take you to space. Yes, in this metaphor babies are space. Or take you to space. I lost track, probably because I am only capable at this point of drawing deformed rocket ships. The point I’m attempting to make is that while there are similarities, the comparison does run into some major problems pretty quickly.

So with that mostly-nonsensical warning in mind, here is my list of ways in which puppies are like babies. Since I have not had a baby, and have spent most of my life actively avoiding them, I am only making educated guesses about them based on pop culture and some overheard parental chatter.

  • They do not respect the weekend sleep-in. At all.
  • Your interaction with poop and pee goes up astronomically. It used to be a fairly unmentioned part of our lives, considered only when having to scrub the toilets or see one of those commercials where the bears complain about toilet paper sticking to their butts. Now my husband and I discuss bowel movements daily: “Did she poop when you took her out?” “No? Well did you take her to her favourite spot? You know, the spot where she ate cat poop that time?” I could go on, but I won’t.
  • You have to develop a hardier gag-reflex. For the first two months, Cassie had a stitch in her abdomen that her body was slowly rejecting. It was gross. Enough said.
  • They get ear infections that make them miserable. This makes you feel really bad.
  • When out with friends at night, you keep checking your watch because you’re ancy about getting home, even though rationally you know they’re fine.
  • You have to come to agreements with your significant other about the rules. And then live by those agreements daily. Even when you’re really tired cause you got woken up at 4am and it would just be sooo much easier to let her chew her disgusting rawhide bone on the bed, especially cause it’s on his side.
  • You have to learn to hold your tongue when your significant other does things a different way. This one is really hard.
  • You become acutely aware that you are being judged on their behaviour. Therefore you get pangs of pride/embarrassment when they do something adorable/horrible in front of your friends. There is also the new-found emotion of terrodation – the simultaneous feeling of terror and adoration. For example (and this is completely hypothetical), you might feel terrodation after your dog executes a perfect run-by mitten-snatch and you end up chasing an absolutely ecstatic Cassie, uh… I mean generic dog, through the forest to retrieve her prized loot of one blue fleece mitten, all while under the bewildered gaze of an old couple who thought by now they had seen it all.
  • When you screw up (oh I dunno, maybe by letting go of the leash in the park and then having your dog chase another dog across the entire park, come within a foot of a moving vehicle, and then very nearly barge into someone’s house), you can allow yourself an appropriate period of self-loathing, but then you have to forgive yourself and move on. The forgiving is important or you start to feel like a failure.
  • When they jump on the bed to wake you up with kisses (and sometimes bites – this one might be specific to dogs) your heart melts every time.

Now before you start watching the Dog Whisperer for parenting tips, stay tuned for some key ways in which puppies are not at all like babies.

Cassie scouting out the park for low-hanging mittens

* I did once have a dream in which I gave birth to a puppy. While it makes perfect sense for my brain to create this scenario, it is still creepy.

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Posted on February 3, 2011, in Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Very good to know.

    My friend and I have a joke that began when she walked into our freshman year RA’s room and said “Hypothetically, if one were to drop their loft on their hand, where should they go?” (hand behind her back the whole time…)

  2. This is all SO, SO true. It feels good to hear validation on these things. I don’t even remember what it feels like to sleep in – people ask “why don’t you just open your door and let the dog out and go back to sleep?” Ha. Hahahaha. That is Tabitha laughing at the thought. Anything with the ability to bark will wake you up when it wants to.

    The good thing is, I have a lot more patience for parents and their children after having a dog. I swore I would make my dog be obedient, and a lot of the time it just doesn’t happen. I know realize that even the best intentions don’t have the results – it is simply very very difficult to control another living thing. So, I have stopped judging the parents of screaming kids everywhere.

    • Yes! Me too. And I also totally understand now how food bribes are a necessary evil in order to keep your sanity.

      Oh and I haven’t slept past 7:30am since the day we got her. Not even once.

  3. I highly enjoyed this post. I have a feeling that the seventh bullet point will also be most difficult for me. Actually, the eighth, too — I am going to be one of those searingly red-faced dogparents one day.

    I also very much enjoyed your rocket ship metaphor.

  4. Love this.

    The similarities between children and dogs is uncanny. They drool, love squeaky toys, chew on everything, destroy furniture and have an uncanny inability to sleep in on a Saturday.

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