Well, I had many words of warning about the difficulties of a new puppy. And I listened and took it all in, and then agreed with Rob to gett the pup anyway. Rob and I have been dreaming for years about Chewy - his name, breed, color, sex, personality, and even our reactions to his silly little quirks have been around since our early Malibu days. I have to admit that sometimes I felt slightly disingenuous as we dreamed up our life with Chewy, because I wasn't sure if I would like the reality of life with a dog a fraction of the amount that I liked our fantasy pooch. Dreaming was all fun and games, but I wasn't 100% positive about how agreeable I would feel about getting a dog once we had a home of our own where pets weren't prohibited. It was my guilty little secret.
But when Rob found a Portuguese Water Dog breeder in Sweden with a litter we could adopt from, and we were finally faced with the decision of bringing home Reality Chewy, I discovered he actually had the same little secret. So we debated and prayed on it for a few days and swayed back and forth. Then one Monday there must have been romance in the air, because we each independently got all romantic about life and the things that make it beautiful and decided that having a family dog was part of that. Sure he will be a lot of work. But we decided that ultimately it means swapping tv and internet time for real time. And it meant that during all of the moving around we will do over the years, Biggie Smalls will have a constant friend to help ease the transitions. That alone is worth the trouble.
We were actually pretty careful not to make Fantasy Chewy perfect. After all, he is named Chewy. Fantasy Chewy would get into mischief - perhaps tear apart one of Biggie Smalls stuffed animals, maybe have an accident or two in the house, or happen to eat a cat. But our reaction would always be to exchange looks at each other, laugh, and endearingly sigh "Oooooooooooh, Chewy!". Fantasy Chewy was a lovable little rascal. Now I will leave it at that, because if I go into just how many details we have dreamed up about Chewy, it starts to sound kind of kooky.
Reality Chewy (as observed from the first day at home):
He is a lovable little rascal. But actually, pretty light on the rascal side. He is a really good dog. The breeders told us he was the calmest guy in the whole litter of 11, and they picked him especially for us since we have a baby. He is up there with the cutest of God's creations, although The Smalls still has him beat by a mile. (This probably sounds terrible, but I don't think the old Rob and Lorena really figured that a baby was cuter than a puppy.)
But, he is still a puppy. And even a good puppy is a stressful puppy if you are trying to do your job right and housebreak him as soon as possible. Try taking a puppy outside to pee every hour in the middle of a Swedish winter. While juggling a baby. While saying the alphabet backwards and walking a straight line and touching your nose. Last night was one of those that felt so hectic that it was impossible to finally shut off at night to fall asleep (probably because slumber kept getting interrupted from all that whining). I finally felt like I was scraping myself back together and life was in harmony after the huge life-altering transformation of having a baby, and now this. It's like I just passed "Having a Family" Level 2, and now I moved up to Level 3. But I feel confident that in the not-too-distant future, Chewy will be house trained, I will learn this new role and routine, and my life-flow will be restored. I think Chewy is such a good dog that if it weren't for that little perfectionist in me, this wouldn't be hard at all. But I want to train him perfectly from Day One, and that requires a lot of diligence and watchfulness. I am sooooo glad Rob has this week off from work or I'd probably be sending the puppy back by now instead of writing this next part:
One of the most memorable things anyone has said to me came from my World Religion professor at BYU. He said,
"The path in life that should be sought the most, is the one that causes you to grow the most."
I have based countless life decisions off of this advice, none of which I have ever regretted in the aftermath.
I love my new family!