Friday, September 10, 2010

Flashback Friday: Baby Atticus

One hundred and four weeks ago today we brought Atticus home. When we went to pick him up, we discovered that ours was the one that had been peed on by one of his littermates. They were recently groomed, bathed and pristine, except the one with a stain on his leg. But then, they handed over this two pound pile of fur and I instantly knew he was just perfect.

All of the dog preparation books said to take your new puppy for a long walk around the neighborhood so he would know this was a new location and it would simulate the migration of the pack. That wasn’t really happening. First, the collar we had picked out was about eight feet too big and he simply shook his head and the thing slipped off. I hurriedly got back in the car to go to the pet store to pick out a new one, one made for a cat. Even that one was too long and we had to trim a few inches off of it so he wouldn’t chew the end. When I made it back home, secured the collar and we tried again he wouldn’t budge. He planted his legs in the ground, lifted his head and stood there. We eventually gave up and went back inside without a walk. According to the books, we were off to a great start.

The next several weeks were quite the adventure. He didn’t sleep through the night and would cry because he was lonely in his crate. Rather than using the puppy pads to potty train, he would pick them up and run around the house with them. He loved to chew on flip flops (thankfully,the only shoes he ever paid any attention to). He certainly took his time wanting to eat, seriously worrying this new puppy parent.
Just three days after we brought him home, Rocky had to go out of town and I was alone potty training, feeding, and stressing. I would get home from work and watch his every move. Since his bladder was likely the size of a thimble, you had to watch him like a hawk because neither of you had any warning when the mood to urinate would strike. In the following weeks, I would be so grateful when Rocky could get home from work so I didn’t have to do all the staring alone.

I learned a lot in those first weeks with Atticus. I learned that it was hard work caring for another creature. I learned that I take out my frustrations on Rocky (leading me to wonder how many people contemplated divorce over an untrained puppy). I learned (for the umpteenth time) that I don’t handle stress very well. These are all very big lessons I will carry with me as I become a new mom. Honestly, it scares me. But I think without the experience I wouldn’t believe that we’ll both learn, we’ll all cope, and “this too shall pass.”

Poor Atticus has no idea what is about to hit him. A coworker loaned us some baby gear and Atticus is seriously concerned. We left out a baby seat for him to see, smell and get used to having around the house. When I come back to the living room, I’ll find him slowly creeping up to it and smelling it. He’ll bump the toys with his nose and get scared when they swing back. I have no idea what we are going to do about the other toys in the house. He would really like to believe those plush lambs and rattles are meant for him.

Atticus has been such a joy and a pleasure to have in the house. Our parents love him and routinely press for updates. Friends and neighbors often ask how we think he’ll handle the baby. Visitors who don’t mind a few puppy kisses really enjoy the company too. The hard work and effort that went into domesticating our puppy paid off into having such a fun addition to our little family. I know that caring for a newborn will be ten times harder but I can only dream of the reward.

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