Archives for July 2018

Puppies are like toddlers

In recent news, Brian and I are the proud parents of a five-month-old puppy we call Nia (her full name is a regal one: Lady Nymeria Stark of Winterfell). We rescued her exactly two months ago and have been in love/hell ever since.

puppy snuggled on a blanket

Meet Lady Nymeria Stark of Winterfell, everybody!

I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the dog mom life, so if you’re here to comment on how dog owners aren’t real parents and puppies aren’t human children, kindly see yourself out (you don’t know or care about my life, my struggles, or what brings me joy. This isn’t for you.) In my experience training a three-to-five-month-old pup, I’ve come to the realization that having a puppy is very similar to having a toddler.

Mobility

Some people compare puppies to babies, and I’m not going to do that: While a baby is mostly immobile, a toddler is running all over the place, exploring all available surroundings, and basically trying to kill itself every chance it gets. Ways to combat this: baby gates, constant vigilance, and positive reinforcement. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly how we combat the dangerous exploratory behavior of puppies, baby gates, constant vigilance, and positive reinforcement. We’ve gated the pup in the kitchen when we’re cooking, the TV room when we’re winding down, and the front room when I’m working. She even gets to hang out in the bathroom when I shower.

Puppy sitting on top of the couch

She thinks she’s a cat.

Constant attention-seeking behavior

Speaking of the bathroom…From the memes I’ve seen on the book of face, toddlers who aren’t invited into the bathroom with Mom claw at the door, sticking their tiny fingers under the bottom trying to get in. Wanna know what my puppy does when I go to the bathroom without her? She claws at the door and sticks tiny paws under the bottom trying to get in.

puppy on a raft in the pool

See? She even wanted to join us in the pool.

Managing nap schedules

I know that toddlers need a lot of sleep, and managing their naps can be a full-time job. I also know that if Nia naps all evening, she won’t go to bed at night! We learned the hard way that our evenings of snuggling on the couch while binge-watching TV were days of the past when Nia wouldn’t go to bed until after midnight because she slept during TV time. We’re still working out the logistics and what works best for her, and hopefully, we figure it out soon!

puppy napping on a blanket with a toy

Puppy diaper bag

Moms carry bags of stuff toddlers need every time they leave the house with their kiddo: diapers, wipes, creams, extra clothes, toys, snack packs, containers, sippy cups, etc. I carry a bag of stuff Nia needs every time I leave the house with her: poop bags, alternative leashes, toys, snack packs, bowls, bottled water, etc. And I’m often so flustered when trying to gather everything that I forget stuff for me. My phone, a beverage, my purse, my ID, always something.

Leashed puppy sitting on the sidewalk next to owner

Taking her anywhere is an ordeal

Bedtime routines

I’m pretty confident many, if not most, toddlers want to snuggle up with Mom and Dad at bedtime, and I’ve known parents who curl up in their toddler’s tiny beds and fall asleep with them in order to get them to crash in their own beds. When we began crate training Nia in our bedroom, about 2 feet from our bed, she would cry at night because she didn’t want to be alone in the crate. So Brian and I would curl up on the floor crateside with the lights out as if we were all going to sleep in a giant puppy pile together. Once she was asleep, we would tiptoe back to our bed for the night. You may say we’re suckers, but guess who goes right to her crate at bedtime, now?

puppy sleeping in a bed

Sometimes, she sleeps in my spot before or after crate time.

Toys everywhere

Just like my toddler niece, the puppy pulls all of her toys out on the ground and spreads them far and wide for good measure. I may not rip up my foot on a Lego, but you can be damn sure I’m falling all over Kongs, Nylabones, and Duraplay balls left and right. I’m probably going to fall and injure myself (like I always do), but I’d rather have her play with dog toys than chewing on my shoes.

Puppy surrounded by chew toys and stuffies

Bribery

When I was teaching reading comprehension to small children, we used bribery as a way to get them to work. Smaller, more frequent bribes for more distracted students and that’s exactly how we have to train this puppy. Snacks, snacks, snacks; just like me and my snack addiction. Our pupper loves food. Thank goodness. Because we bribe her with food all. the. time. Get that non-toy out of her mouth? Offer her a piece of string cheese. Need to lock her up in her crate when we go out? We provide a plethora of brain-teaser treats and puzzles.

I’m sure there are bazillions of ways that puppies compare to toddlers, these are just a few of the ones I’ve noticed in the two months since adopting our little monkey.

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Damsel in distress…in the bathroom

The other day, after my class at The Second City, I decided to head straight home instead of sticking around for bonus Second City joy like I had originally planned. We had just gotten a new water heater that afternoon, and I was pretty excited to head home for a warm shower. Also, Brian had just been destroyed by our puppy, and probably needed a bit of a reprieve. Mostly, I had a tasty Blue Apron meal with shrimp and peppers waiting for me to cook up and devour.

Leaving the class, I knew I probably should hit the bathroom before rolling out, but I had parked in a 3-hour spot and was drawing desperately close to overtime. I don’t like getting tickets so I raced my ass to my car. It was only a 45-minute drive; I could make it.  (If you can’t already tell, this story is about poop, so fair warning as you continue on).

As I was nearing my home suburb, I happened upon a sign for the second time in a week that reminded me. Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc was on sale super cheap at one of the local-ish liquor stores. I knew I’d never make it back there to buy some if I didn’t stop immediately. So I pulled into the parking lot and grabbed a cart. It’s important to always have a backup supply of wine.

As I filled my cart with liquid gold, the urge to poop began to increase. I’m not the kind of girl who can hold it, and I know that when I gotta go…I GOTTA go. I asked the lady at the checkout counter if they had a bathroom (they didn’t), and so I quickly planned my escape. Step one: Pay for wine. Step two: Decide on emergency bathroom protocol.

My options were limitless, but time was of the essence. Could I make it home? Maybe, but there was a risk in that. Could I make it to my parents’ house halfway between the liquor store and home? Tempting, but I decided to see what other choices I had.

There was a small pizza place by the liquor store. But I didn’t want to walk there and chance no public restroom. I got into the car and thought about McDonald’s/Burger King/Wendy’s locations near me, and I knew there weren’t any super close. And then like clouds parting to let the sun shine down on none other than White Castle.

Now, I have a small neurosis about using public restrooms. And it has nothing to do with pooping in public and everything to do with using a restroom while not patronizing the business. And so I always have to buy something when I use a bathroom. Brian has tried without fail to get me to sneak in, poop, and sneak out without anyone being the wiser for as long as I can remember. I almost always leave with a drink…sometimes a full meal.

I decided as I raced into the bathroom immediately next to the entrance door, that this would be the day I do it. This would be the day I opted out of a guilt purchase. Because I’m doing Weight Watchers. And White Castle just didn’t seem worth it.

I hung my purse on the door and sat down on the toilet. Relief was swift, but it only lasted a moment. Until I reached for the toilet paper. Where toilet paper should have been, an empty roll hung in its place. I assessed the situation. No place for a backup roll in this single-use bathroom. No stalls to hobble to with my pants around my ankles. And I was in White Castle. In the early evening. No one was going to be knock knock knocking on this door for hours. I wished I still carried that travel roll of Charmin I bought for my trip to Europe.

As I prepared to bunker down in the White Castle ladies’ room, I realized that I had a golden ticket! I had a freaking phone. I stood up, waddled over to my purse, and pulled out my phone. I waddled back, sat down, and googled White Castle for the phone number.

In seconds, I would be relieved from my public cell. I just knew it. riiiiiiiiiing riiiiiiiiiing

“Thank you for calling White Castle. No one is available to take your call right now. Please leave a message and we’ll call you back as soon as we can!”

Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

I pondered leaving a message, “Hey. In the ladies room. No TP for days. Send help.”

Instead, I hung up and called back. The damn store was open, someone had to be here.

“Thanks for calling White Castle. This is _______, how can I help you?”

“Hi. This is awkward, but I’m in the ladies bathroom, and there’s no toilet paper. Help!”

“Oh. Sure. Be right there.”

Commercial toilet paper roll in the White Castle Bathroom

Thanks, lady.

Two minutes later, a knock at the door had me waddling, penguin-style, again. I hid behind the door as I opened it just enough to allow a massive roll of toilet paper past the threshold. I thanked her, and quickly closed the door.

Bathroom selfie in a skinny mirror

I love me a good skinny mirror!

I cleaned up, took a baño selfie in the skinny mirror, and realized I definitely needed to make a purchase now. There was no escaping the employee who rescued this damsel in distress. I made my way to the front counter, and the employee was washing dishes in the back. I could escape. But I took a look at the menu and realized there were a lot of things I needed to try. You know. For research.

I ahemed a few times until I finally said, “Uhh hi!” Two full minutes after she looked at me and said hi, she set the dishes down and walked up to me, giving me a knowing glance. I should have just left. Why was I so embarrassed? Everybody poops. Right? I ordered and ran the hell out of there so fast.

I survived. And had tots hashbrowns with cheese sauce to assuage my anxieties on the 7-minute drive home.

 

 

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!