My sister’s partner is out of town on business this week so I made a trek to her house in Charlotte, NC, to share space.
We both work from home, making that easy to do. I am one of the lucky ones in that my sister also happens to be my best friend. I know that is not guaranteed and I don’t take it for granted. A combination of intentional actions (we both got pregnant at the same time so our boys are only nine days apart in age) and luck (it just so happens that my sister is awesome) has helped us nurture and grow the friendship piece.
“while I admire and respect my sister, she makes some crazy decisions…”
A couple of months ago, she and her partner got a new addition to their family. And while I admire and respect my sister, she makes some crazy decisions…like getting a puppy! In her defense, the puppy is mostly her wife’s responsibility, as the primary care-giver and alpha leader of the puppy and his four-year old canine sibling. My sister is merely the understudy. She’s ready to step in, if needed, for a moment here and there. But by no means does she desire to be the “lead dog,” so to speak.
My own house became an empty nest this past August. Both my son and my boyfriend’s daughter flew the coop this year, leaving behind a fairly quiet, clean, and predictable environment. It’s funny how rapidly I’ve adjusted to the new level of quiet and minimal interruptions. Yes we still have two cats, but at age 14, their energy level for disruption is somewhat limited. Yes, I still get the occasional loud MEOW! for dinner or snuggles.
All of which is to say I was totally unprepared for the four-legged chaos awaiting me at my sister’s house.
“While the puppy is awake, he is avidly working on making, getting into, and/or causing trouble.”
Well, let me say I’ve learned something really important for one’s survival this week. Ready? “If you hear the jingle jangle, you’re too late.” Too late for what? Too late to save yourself from hot coffee spilling, too late in placing that last bite of food in your mouth, too late to stand up off the floor unmolested.
Under ordinary circumstances one might construe the jingle of a metal dog tag as pleasing and melodic. Place that tag on a puppy’s collar and it begins to create a Pavlovian response urging the listener to “brace oneself.” While the puppy is awake, he is avidly working on making, getting into, and/or causing trouble. 100% of the time.
I cannot help but be reminded of my human baby’s infancy and, more appropriately aligned to the puppy, toddlerhood. Toddlers come in two modes: ON and OFF — just like puppies.
A Distant Memory:
One particular memory keeps playing over and over again as we both wait in weary anticipation for the Mama Dog to return from her business trip and put an end to the mayhem.
A million years ago, or so it seems, my sister and I left our relatively new babies home for a few hours. With their Dads, by the way, not alone. Not going to lie, we were both ecstatic to be walking around unencumbered by an extra 14 pounds of baby. Free of a diaper bag, stroller, and pacifier, we stopped for lunch and a glass of wine – the grown-up version of pacifier, if you ask me. Yes, we got distracted by the second glass of wine and stayed out later than what we had originally negotiated with the Dads.
“we’ve had years and years of practice with human children at raising our voices to alert, reprimand, and distract”
By the time we got home, an hour and a half later than expected, we were both greeted at our respective doors with agitated husbands and hungry sons. In the Dads’ defense, neither of them was equipped to serve up a meal. And dealing with a hungry baby… Well, that needs no explanation. But I suspect that we would have still been met with desperate husbands even if our sons had just eaten a pound of filet mignon each — babies are a handful.
So, it turns out, are puppies. Yes, both my sister and I can prepare a dog bowl. Yes, we can scratch behind an ear. More importantly, we’ve had years and years of practice with human children at raising our voices to alert, reprimand, and distract. And seriously, that’s what it’s been like all week. A constant barrage of “Off,” “Down,” “No” and “Leave your sister alone” has replaced our standard fare of conversation. Not going to lie, I’m tired.
How is it that a 20-pound creature can wreak so much havoc?
As I wrap up my visit and my sister’s wife prepares to come home, I have my own preparations in mind. How do I time my greeting her at the door with a very wiggly, mouthy, puggle in arms? Better take the puppy’s collar off first, so she doesn’t hear us coming.