I Wanna Be Your Dog

My eyes are bloodshot and my patience is wire-thin.  I’ve been snapping at people with a hairtrigger quickness. And yet, I’m really happy.  The range of emotions makes sense: I got anew puppy on Saturday afternoon.

My Yellow Lab, Krypto (named after Superman’s dog from the planet Krypton, naturally), died in December at the age of 13. When Krypto went to Dog Valhalla, I was convinced that it would be along time until I welcomed another canine into my home and family.Years, maybe. The expenses!  The responsibility!  The piles of excrement in the backyard!  No thanks.  I needed a break.

It’s funny what a difference four months makes.  Thursday night, my wife mentioned that her friend who does dog rescue knew of a handful of dogs that needed to be taken in immediately.  “That’s awful,” I said, “but we’re just in no position to help right now.  This isn’t the right time for us to get a dog.”
The next morning, my wife forwarded an email list of dogs that needed rescuing.  The email subject?  “Dogs slated for Death Row.”  I had to open it.  It was a dirty trick, of course, but it was one I was guaranteed to fall for. After a few seconds of scrolling through puppy Glamour Shots, Dog #50 jumped off my monitor and brought me to a heel.  Dog #50 was a Golden Retriever puppy.  I’d always wanted a Golden.  
I called my wife at work, who picked up with an all-knowing, “Yeeessss?” “What if we just casually inquired about Dog #50’s status?” I said. “No commitment implied, it’s just a curiosity call.”  The phone call didn’t last longer than three minutes; my wife jumped right to it.
After a day of back and forth calls and emails, as well as a few re-shufflings of our Saturday plans, we came to learn that Dog #50 had been claimed in the 11th hour by its owners.  Happy ending for Dog #50. Less so for us. 
Once I got it into my head I was going to get a dog, I couldn’t let it go.  I.  Had.  To.  Have.  A. Dog.  A Golden or a Lab.  Something “Retrievery.”
WithDog #50 returning home, I decided to put together a new canine acquisition plan. I Googled the search term “Retriever for sale Chicago.”  The first item returned was an eBay classified ad for Golden/Lab mix puppies in Aurora.  The ad included lots of recent pictures of the puppies and their parents, but not a lot of copy orwritten details.  The dogs were gorgeous.  And affordable.  It looked too good to be true. I assumed there had to be a catch, so I kept searching the web, rifling through sites for shelters, big bucks breeders, and puppy mills.  I couldn’t find anything remotely comparable. The more I considered it, I believed that the Aurora ad was legit; an incredibly well-timed rarity on the web. Coincidence and luck led me to it, and I didn’t want to lose the moment.   I called the number and emailed the address listed on eBay.
I got a fairly quick email response from the owner, saying that she might be able to show the puppies the following day (Saturday).  I immediately replied, saying that I would make myself available at whichever time worked for her.  No response.   At 7 p.m., I emailed again to reiterate my enthusiasm for the puppies.  Nothing.  No calls,either.
When I woke up on Saturday, I resigned myself to the notion that I wasn’t going to get a response, and that the Great Get-a-Dog Effort of 2010 was coming to a close.  At lunch, my wife said, “Why don’t you just call her one more time?  What’s the harm?”  I rolled my eyes.  What-ever.  Sure.
Thephone picked up on two rings.  I couldn’t believe it.  I talked fast to make up for lost time.  “Hi…I’m James VanOsdol…we traded emails yesterday, and I called, too…anyway, I’m still really interested in seeing your puppies…are you still around today?…can I come out?”
The owner apologized for not getting back to me sooner.  She said that she was overwhelmed by the deluge of calls and emails she got after posting the ad on eBay Classifieds.  She’d posted a similar ad for the puppies on Craigslist that went mostly unnoticed for weeks.  The day she posted to eBay, that Friday, her computer and phone blew up.  That made perfect sense to me, seeing as Craigslist is really just a site for hookers these days.
She explained that only one dog remained, a female, and that if I was interested I should see it soon. “I can be in the car within 30 minutes,” I said.  294 to 88; easy trip. And with that, my family and I were off.
Long story short, after meeting the puppy, there was no doubt in our minds. She had to come home with us.  Meet…Olivia the dog:


It’s been close to 14 years since I last had a puppy.  I’d forgotten how much unbridled joy a puppy can bring to its owners.  I’d also conveniently forgotten the simple fact that crate training is hell on earth.  
Cute li’l Olivia misses her mommy,daddy, and litter-mates.  Because of that, the second she’s lovingly escorted into her crate (den, if you prefer), she barks. And howls.  Andc ries.  And then she doesn’t stop for hours.  I stared at the ceiling all night, listening, as Olivia’s banshee wails threatened to rip through the very fabric of the universe. Of the seven possible hours of sleep I could’ve had last night, I can say with confidence that I pieced together two.
As a parent of human puppies, I arrogantly dismissed the notion that new pet ownership is challenging. Once you’ve spent countless nights changing a crying baby’s diapers, I reasoned, how bad can a cute fuzzy puppy be?  Well, for one, children don’t bark.  Additionally, they don’t need to be urgently walked at 5a.m. on a cold spring Chicago morning.  So, yeah, there’s been a”wake-up call” element to my new pet ownership.  I’ve done it all before, but it’s been yearsandyearsandyears since the last time.  
As an intelligent, rational being, I know that the all-night barkathons won’t last forever, and that consistent training will result in a happy,well-adjusted, dog.  Those facts are small comfort at 2 a.m., however,when my nerves are tattered, and I’m ready to scream as loud as I can,just to drown out the noise my dog’s making.  
Any advice/best practices for toughing this one out?


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