My Stinky, Stinkin Dog

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?


Biking update

With Swedish holidays and getting the oil changed on the car I have totaled 7 days of commuting, so far.


Here's Michael:

by popular demand, and because we have no life, here are some more pictures of The Smalls.


2010 New Years Challenge.

(this is what it looked like one of the nights when I was riding home from work. Seriously)

While everyone is making, thinking about, or breaking new years resolutions, I have decided to use my resolution to issue a challenge: Ride your bike to work in 2010.

As you may-or-may-not know, I have been trying to ride my bike to work as much as possible. It's about 7 miles from our house to the Embassy. Luckily, Stockholm has a great network of bike paths, which they even plow in the winter - although lately they have been icy, but that is why Lorena bought me some awesome studded bike snow tires. I have probably averaged 4 days per week, but there have been a lot of weeks where I rode in everyday. Now that I feel like I am properly outfitted (you can see why having the proper warm clothing is important by checking the weather in Stockholm here) I am committed to try and ride in every day this year.

So here is my challenge: See how many days you can ride your bike to work. If you equal or out-ride me to work then I owe you dinner at a place of your choice. (You can either redeem this in Stockholm - which has great food - or when ever I visit where you live. If I never visit where you live, then we will discuss another option!) If you are like a lot of people, your resolution will probably have something to do with exercise, saving money, spending more time with family, etc. This challenge lets you accomplish all of those.

Here are the rules: If you have a job, ride your bike to work. If you live really far from your job, ride part of the way and then use public transportation. Now, if you don't have a job, you can still try and compete: just use your bike instead of the car to go run an errand. If you are a professional biker (and I only know one) then you are not allowed to participate in this challenge. Sorry, but that is too easy if it is your job to ride your bike. You also have to post in the comments section of the blog that you are going to participate (or send me an email to let me know you are in: robcandrian @ As most of the people who will take this will be in the US, just know that you already have an advantage over me, since I get both the US and Swedish holidays off - so even if I rode everyday, and you miss a week or two, you would still win!

I would like to note that this isn't some hippy - liberal, save the planet, global warming type hysteria. But now that we have an awesome son (and a dog), my free time is limited. By riding to work, I'm able to get a short workout without actually using any of my free time (it's actually about five minutes faster for me to ride into work versus taking the bus. Because of traffic, it takes about the same amount of time as driving.) Although I had to buy some weather appropriate bike gear, it still saves a lot of money on not having to pay for gas, parking, car maintenance, etc. Since I don't drink coffee, it definitely helps make sure I am awake by the time I get to work (especially when it is 10 degrees out!)

Advice: If you decide to try, the first week is probably the hardest. Since you do have to think ahead a little bit. For example, I have left a couple suits and pairs of dress shoes at the office, so when I ride in I only have to bring a clean shirt, tie, socks, etc. so I don't have to carry as much stuff. It does help that my ride is short enough that I barely break a sweat, so I can shower at home and then just ride in - and so far, no one has told me that I stink. Although this is Europe, so the chances of me smelling worse then a lot of Europeans is pretty minimal. The other hard time is the first time you have to ride when it is really cold or raining. But just think of it as an adventure.

I have a feeling that no more then two people are going to take me up on this, so I will stop writing!

Happy New Year.


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