dispatch from puppy land

When my mom friends have seen me at school dropoff this week, they’ve all given me the chin down/ eyes up look. The “girlfriend are you kidding me?” look.

This look, I mean. Done first and best (I think we can all agree) by Ms. Marla Gibbs as Florence on The Jeffersons. If you’re not old enough to remember 1970s television just take my word for it.

Anyway, those eyes are all looking at me as if to say: You got a puppy? Uh huh. How’s THAT going? I feel like the moms who don’t have dogs– and who are being begged by their children to get them– are the ones who actually ask me how it’s working for us so far. Those who have dogs don’t need to ask. They just give me The Florence. Heck, I’m giving myself The Florence.

Here’s how it’s going so far. Despite what you may have heard, having a puppy is not “just like” having a newborn. In some ways a puppy is much easier. We tuck Marshmallow into her crate at 10 pm, wedged into a corner so she can get only to a wee-wee pad, her food and water, and back, and then we go to bed until she wakes us with her yapping at 5:30 am or so. I didn’t get a ten-to-five-thirty stretch from any of my kids until they were eating from a spoon.

But a puppy is also harder than a baby, if you have already had a baby or three, precisely BECAUSE they are not a baby. If a puppy is your first “baby,” I think you are so in love with this helpless creature who needs you that you are more or less enchanted with every yip and Tootsie-Roll poop. When you’ve had three babies a puppy who cries when she is not ported about the apartment her every waking moment is slightly less exciting. Furthermore, at the moment Marshmallow is refusing to eat her heartworm pill– a battery-sized chewable that “all puppies love,” according to her vet. Well, not so much. I called the vet today to report how uninterested Marshmallow was. “Put some peanut butter on it!” the vet chuckled. “I’ve never met a puppy who won’t gobble THAT up!”

Doctor Doolittle, meet Marshmallow and my peanut-butter-streaked floors. Now I have a heartworm pill covered in peanut butter deemed doubly inedible by Miss Two Pounds and Fourteen Ounces. If Marshmallow were my first baby, I would probably be Googling and crying about this. Instead, I’m wondering if heartworm is really so terrible.

Lest ye dog lovers be too horrified: Marshmallow cannot actually contract heartworm at the moment because as a New York City puppy without all her shots, Marshmallow cannot leave the apartment except in a tote bag. For the next month she’s an inside dog, “marking” our new rug (give me The Florence look for THAT decision) and chewing on everything (but her heartworm pill). She goes on wee-wee pads about half the time. For five days home this is not so bad. But there is one off-limits poop spot she repeatedly seeks out (behind the coffee table) that reminds me of how my oldest used to hide behind the couch to do his business in a Pull-Up. He did this until he was three. If I’ve got three years of Marshmallow poop on my carpet? Saints in heaven, preserve us.

But then there’s this.


Joy. Wonder. Delight. Love.

How’s it going? Well. Sometimes? Pretty great.

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