My May Challenge was going to be a sleep challenge. I researched ways to fall asleep, found a 14-day training program, and knew the environment I needed to create to help me fall asleep before 1, 2, 3am. I’ve had difficulty sleeping for about half my life, and no matter how little fun it sounded, May was the month for me to solve that problem!
Then, I decided to get a dog. Not just any dog, but a five-month-old Havanese puppy. I’ve wanted a dog for years but always talked myself out of it. Seeing a friend with a similar lifestyle as me (condo, long hours at work, paddling), made me start to think twice about it. I missed my ex-boyfriend’s dogs more than I’d care to admit. Also, suddenly working, living, and having my gym all on the same street had made my world feel incredibly small.
To make the idea of me getting a dog more ridiculous, I started my research from the comfort of a hotel room in Portland. Because every rational person starts researching owning a dog while traveling for work.
I thought for sure my friends and family would talk me out of it when I ran the idea by them, “I’m thinking of getting a dog, crazy, right?”
Only no one did. Everyone paused, probably thinking of my condo with no outdoor area, my long hours at work, my preferences to long workouts, my social life, and whatever else made them pause.
I gave them all a list of reasons why I shouldn’t get a dog. Still these people who were supposed to talk me out of the idea that I could take care of another living thing besides a plant, surprised me by supporting it.
They didn’t just support it, they said it was a great idea.
I took it one step farther. After spending days researching what breeds were best, taking quizzes about what dog would be the best fit for me, and memorizing breeds on the American Kennel Club website, I called a good friend to ask about her Havanese dog. I’d met her dog when they lived in Chicago, and fell in love with it. She raved about her dog, then gave me the name of the breeder in Colorado where she had picked up her own puppy eight years ago. There were two older puppies available, if I decide I want one, my friend offered to be my dog-mule and bring the pup out to me when she comes to visit from Denver in two weeks.
I spoke to the breeder. I watched videos of the puppies every night to decide if I really wanted to do it. I grilled friends who had just gotten dogs for their input and insights. I researched everything I would need and had my cart on Amazon brimming with dog treats, toys, food, beds, a crate, etc. The next morning, I sent an email saying I wanted to get the smarter, more outgoing, playful of the two brothers. The breeder agreed and started making arrangements with my friend to get the puppy to her.
I hit “purchase” on my Amazon cart. There was no backing out now.
Day 0: Went to bed at 1:30am after going to dinner with friends, then coming home and puppy-proofing the house. Including moving my couches, rolling up the large rug and dragging it to the extra bedroom to avoid any puppy accidents on it. I had a love/hate with my workouts as I dragged the large rug. “Look how strong I am doing this by myself!” Followed by, “Why oh why am I not paddling this year so this would be easier?” Also, continued harass innocent people around me with questions about what to name him.
Day 1: Parked car at airport after work and waited near baggage claim for dog-mules and my puppy to appear.
OMG I got a puppy. I have the best friends in the world.
We skipped the concert we had planned that night and spent the evening, drinking wine, catching up, and spoiling the new puppy. After accosting everyone I know for dog names, I finally decided to call him Westley, from the Princess Bride. And when he’s bad, he will be the Dread Pirate Roberts.
Day 2: Puppy woke up at 6am, we went for 45 minute walk. It was two seconds after coming back in, that I discovered Westley only goes to the bathroom in the house. Clearly it is the Dread Pirate Roberts who poops in the house, and just as clearly, this dog isn’t house-trained. That should be fun. In the afternoon, we took him on an adventure to beach towns along the coast of San Diego. We watched the sunset over the ocean. At hour eight of our adventure, he finally peed outside. And he really didn’t look happy about it.
Day 3: 6am wake-up, and one of my lovely friends took the shift for me. Once again, Westley refused to “go” outside. What happened to the “As You Wish” character he’s named after? At least he used the puppy pads in the house, that counts for a lot. We went to Balboa Park for the afternoon where we threw a blanket on the grass in the sculpture garden, drank wine, talked to each other, and to strangers. I periodically walked him in circles around the garden. Hour four of our Balboa Park excursion, he gives in and pees. He doesn’t poop until we’re leaving and we’re on the hard cement patio of the restaurant, in front of all the people eating. What can I say, apparently the new puppy likes to make a statement.
Day 4: 5:55am wake up, it shouldn’t be getting earlier, should it? That can’t be right. I took Westley for a slow hour-long walk. We walked over a mile before 7am. I hate mornings. Westley tries to sprint back to the house to pee so I try tricking him by placing a puppy pad on the grass. He plays with it then lays down on it to sleep. Because it’s barely 7am. Yeah, I’m tired too, puppy.
Later in the day we drop my amazing friends off at the airport. He cries for 10 minutes in the car, probably at the realization that it’s just me and him from this point on. Maybe both of us should be crying at this realization. Instead, I drove to the embarcadero where there is a lot of grass, and a walking path along the harbor. We play in the grass and walk the path, until I realize that the “grass” was actually dried weeds and his little fuzzy puppy butt is covered in the small round burrs. Our first outing alone and I spent half of it carefully pulling those out of his fur. Clearly I’m a rookie.
Day 5: 6:30am wake-up. What? Good puppy! Early morning walk, then we prepared for the first day at doggy day care. I packed a small bag of food with his name on it, talked to him about playing nicely with other dogs, and dropped him off at school. The only living being I’ve ever been responsible for in the mornings was when I watched my friend’s daughter, and that was only for a few days. I already felt so much more responsible than I did just a few days ago.
That afternoon, I picked up Westley a little earlier than planned and we go for a walk. Then we played with the ball, I fed him, and think of other ways to keep him entertained. He clearly panicked a little when I went out to dinner and left him home alone. Note to self, start with the crate training.
Day 6: 5am wake-up. “You good now, Westley? Okay, back to sleep we go.” 6:45am wake-up. Getting ready for work I found myself talking to him as he followed me from room to room. I threw the ball a few times and we played after our walk before going to dog day care again.
Day care person: Oh Westley’s back!
Me: Yep, hopefully he’s good again today.
Day care person: Great, do you have his food?
Ugh. I managed one day of the two of us without any problems, but apparently day two is when I start to slip. Good thing there aren’t dog PTA groups. I’d fail miserably. At least by the end of the day we were back on track and the little guy was happily tired from playing with all his new friends at day camp.
Sitting in traffic for the 18 minutes it took to drive the half mile to pick up Westley after work, I found myself running through everything I need to do this week, and all the things I thought Westley would want to do. The realization struck me then that he is not a fuzzy houseguest I need to keep entertained and busy with the magic of San Diego. Instead, he’s part of my house and life now. While there is more to entertaining and taking care of him than there is to me, I also need to cook dinner and do things for myself as well. He’s there to stay and we need to figure out how to live together.
Day 7: 5am wake up to a puppy awake on my bed, growling at his reflection in the closet door across the room. No amount of trying to distract him would make it stop. Eventually I gave up and moved into the living room to sleep for an hour. That worked until 6pm when it was time to walk. Oh puppy. He made up for it though by actually going to the bathroom on our walk (instead of in the house on the puppy pads). Oh glorious day. Never have I been so excited to pick up poop.
At night we went to my friend’s house for dinner. I filled him with all the advice I could think of regarding the dinner party, “don’t embarrass us by going to the bathroom in their house, okay?” Westley was a champ, and ended up racing around the big back yard with another friend’s new puppy, while our friends’ boys threw the ball for them. We were both tired and happy as I drove home.
Day 8: 1:30 am. Woken up by puppy wanting to go outside. I threw on clothes and took him out. In the rain. Felt fuzzy from taking sleeping aid to help me fall asleep actually earlier. Finally took Dread Pirate Roberts back inside only to have him walk over and pee on a puppy pad. We could have skipped that wet outside step completely. Went back to bed until 5:15am, when the desire to play starts. On principle I held out until 5:45, then stumbled to the couch where I threw the ball for him until 6:15. Since when did 6:15am become an acceptable time to wake up and go for a walk in the rain?
I went to work and returned home later that day to find everything right with the world. Westley and I went for a quick walk, and the angel puppy did everything he’s supposed to do, outside where he’s supposed to do it (sorry neighbors!). At the end of our walk, he looked up at me and wagged his tail, excited to start playing.
It’s Friday, I’m in love.