Platts: I Am My Dog’s Mother
I am now the proud owner of a smart, good-looking puppy.
Well, technically I have 40 percent ownership of a smart, good-looking puppy. His name is Cassius (like the boxer and the Roman senator) and we adopted him from the Aspen Animal Shelter a couple of days before Thanksgiving. Although I had some serious urges to adopt my own furry friend (perhaps you read my column, “I Dream of Puppy,” back in November), I was frightened to take on 100 percent of the responsibilities. My boyfriend, who has wanted a puppy for years, was the one that bravely decided to take the leap into parenthood. And, since I didn’t want to get left behind, I joined him. My 40 percent ownership simply means if things take a turn for the worse, for us he gets to keep the pup, and hopefully I would still have some visitation rights.
Anyway…back to Cassius. He was born on a reservation in Chinle, Arizona, with two brothers and a sister. Soon after, they were brought to the big city: Aspen, Colorado, to be put up for adoption. I can only imagine what a dog must think of a place like Aspen, where almost every store in town has a treat at the ready and there are endless amounts of canine behinds to smell. Not to mention all of the outdoor activities. They must believe they’ve made it to some form of heaven.
We met Cassius when he was roughly three and a half months old. We were smitten immediately. He was simply adorable with black wiry hair, inquisitive eyes, large white paws and a star-shaped patch of white on this chest. His ears are far too large for his head (a trait I can relate to well) and his body is long and lanky (no fatties allowed over here).
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Still today, I think my voice goes up at least three octaves when I talk to him. Other people seem to suffer a similar problem when they meet him. There’s no way around it: I’ve become a parent and that comes with life-changing tendencies.
Never before have I been so transfixed with another living thing’s gastrointestinal habits. Watching the little guy drop a deuce outside has suddenly become one of the most rewarding parts of my day. When he eats something he shouldn’t it practically keeps me awake at night thinking of the shit storm to come the next day.
I’m paranoid about every interaction we have, scared that one wrong move on my part will create a bad habit for him or worse, some sort of psychological handicap. I also worry that my long days at the office make him feel neglected by his mother (his dad works from home) and that may cause him to take those feelings out on numerous furry-haired bitches later on in life.
We are also very concerned with his training and have seen a trainer several times already to make sure we are teaching him correctly. Despite our efforts, it seems like everyone has an opinion on the way we should raise Cassius and they constantly feel the need to share it. We certainly appreciate the tips, but it also can feel a bit too critical. As we work hard to instill manners in our dog — he already knows sit, shake and rollover — others feel a strong need to bestow their knowledge on us. Some have gone so far as to say the trainer is wrong and suggested alternative ways to teach him. Despite the back and forth, he is learning to be a decently mannered canine. Though only time will tell if our parenting skills are successful.
Everyone always tells you how hard it is to raise a puppy and how much work it takes. I’ve been a tad bit sleep-deprived since November. I’ve got scratch and bite marks all over my arms. And let’s face it: I don’t get out much right now. Still, when I’m dozing off late at night on the couch and he curls up right next to me, gently placing his paw on my hand and staring deeply into my eyes, that makes all of the growing pains worth it.
For those who are wondering, Barbara’s Beta fish is still alive. Cassius has tried to eat her once or twice but has not succeeded…yet. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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