I drove all day yesterday to take Chewy back to the breeder in Kil. I've cried so much over the last several days. This morning it was because Michael spit up all over the floor and Chewy wasn't there to happily lick it up. But just a week and a half ago it was because I could hardly make it through the day because the puppy and the baby were too much to handle at the same time, particularly on days when Rob had an extra meeting after work and didn't get home until quite late. It was non-stop neediness between the two of them and it was toasting me. I hardly had time to take care of myself, let alone household chores and dinner and shopping and all that frau-type of stuff. Personal time, work-outs, etc., all had to go out the door. I was sinking.
Then Rob told me that if it was too much then he would let me return Chewy. I was totally overwhelmed and knowing I had that option open provided some relief. But then as soon as I decided that that was what we needed to do, I couldn't accept that either. Even though Chewy was stretching my limits, I quite liked him. I'm officially one of "those" people who becomes way over-attached to a dog. (I remember as a kid having a friend who took a day off of school because his dog died and I thought it was a little silly and overly dramatic. I totally didn't get it.)
Somewhere in the multiple walks a day, many bathroom trips in the freezing cold while I stood outside waiting for him to go so that I could then reward him, playing together, training sessions, cuddle time, attention, enduring his barking/whining at times when I had to put him in the crate, correcting his bad house behavior and rewarding the good, chasing him down and lodging open his mouth to retrieve things he had stolen, play dates with other dogs, laughing at the many "Oh, Chewy" moments (like finding him with Michael's binky in his mouth - in the correct sucking position and all!), getting my face licked and ears tickled till I was laughing hysterically, the tilted-head-gaze he’d give me while begging for food in the kitchen, ruffling my hands through his beautiful fluffy coat, watching him progress as he learned to follow me, obey commands and take risks (like finally climb the stairs) - I fell in love with him.
But taking care of him was clearly stretching our limits too far, as I felt especially in those moments when Michael and Chewy both begged immediate attention at the same time. What do you do when your puppy steals your baby's beanie that was hand-stitched for him by his aunt, right as you are in the middle of nursing your son? Or when your baby starts whaling and needs to go down for a nap right as your puppy is about to pee in the house if you don't take him out that very second (in sub-freezing temps outside so you can't bring the baby along)? Or when you need to pick up your dog at the same time you are wearing your baby in the Baby-Bjorn? Or when you are trying to push the stroller as you teach your puppy to walk on a leash, but he keeps tangling himself up with the stroller. And every time you have to stop for him, your baby starts crying because he's annoyed that you stopped moving. Those are just a few of many, many examples I could point out.
Well, you work it out. And you even enjoy the chaos in a way. It can be done, just like the headstrong me knew it could be done before we ever picked up Chewy. But you get worn really thin. Too thin for it to make sense. But then you think of how much you love your dog, and you change your mind again - it does too make sense! It is hard, but you can work it out. And it will all be worth it a few years down the line when you have a well-trained, calm, adult dog who you love and your son loves and your husband loves. But then you realize that then you will then have another child, and how could you possibly keep up with your exercise and training routine for that dog when you have another newborn baby? You can't. So you are back at square one. You can't keep this dog. The Portuguese Water Dog is an energetic, smart, working-dog and requires hours of time every day for exercise and mental stimulation. So you have to take him back. Which makes you feel much too sad and so you tell yourself again that you can do this, and so the cycle continues over and over like that 100 times again until you realize you have to just make the hard decision and go through with it.
I tried so hard this week to prove that I could make it work with Chewy, that I fell really hard for him. I didn't want to let our dream of Chewy die, so I put my whole heart into it. Just dove in head first. Which caused him to leave an even bigger hole in my heart, but at least I know I gave it my all.
It helped when I got home after driving all day to bring Chewy back and Rob had just spent his first whole day taking care of Biggie Smalls alone, and he told me that it was exhausting and he couldn't believe I'd been doing that with him and Chewy all these days. It brought him clarity that we'd definitely made the right choice.
I still only narrowly stopped myself from turning around and driving back home with Chewy as I was half way to the breeder's house. I love that stinky dog. Although it is nice to just sit here and have a free moment to type this up, I miss him. I wanted to come home and take him for a walk. But I did not want to go for a walk by myself. It is not the same.
Chewy introduced me to a lot of my neighbors, and helped me make some new friends. One acquaintance came over one day to teach me some things about training him, and I found out that she is a great person who I think will become a good friend. My neighbor and her eleven-year-old son loooooved Chewy and came over often to help me out by taking him for walks. They are good people and new friends. The poor boy was so sad to see Chewy go - he had come to like Chewy even better than his own dog!
One night when I was out with Chewy and fresh snow had fallen, I bent down to play with Chewy and noticed the most beautiful, perfect flakes I'd ever seen. The snow crystals were so perfect and distinct I couldn't believe they were real. You always do the snowflake cut out craft thing as a kid, but I'd never seen them like that before. And I thought about how I wouldn't have seen that if it weren't for Chewy and needing to take him on that evening walk. He made Rob get out of the house for a walk every morning, and he made me and the Smalls get out for a walk every afternoon, and then me again every night. And I loved it. It is good to have a reason to get outside lots every day in the long dark Swedish winter, no matter what. But it's just not the same without a pooch.
When Chewy was just our little fantasy pooch, Rob and I used to argue over who he was going to claim as his Alpha master. At least we've put that debate to rest. He was my boy. Before he was brave enough to climb the stairs, he would sit at the base and whimper when I went up and then just wait there until I came back down.
Ooooooh, Chewy. Why do I miss you so much when you were seriously such a pain in the butt?