1. Day One: Getting the Puppy
The minutes leading up to picking up your puppy are some of the slowest in your life. Every car you see on the road is a potential competitor who might get your puppy before you. You have been calling the whole day “puppy day” and the day before “puppy eve.” The puppy looks like the dog you fell for on Petfinder, but doesn’t just want to cuddle like you imagined. It bites you and splashes you and pulls your hair with its teeth and you wonder if it is possessed. “That’s just how puppies are. Let’s do it.” “Ok.” The puppy calms down once it enters the big bad world with you and you feel like it might be ok.
2. Day Two: Living with the Puppy
A sense of fear sets in. Have you made a mistake? Your visions of dog whispering the puppy into doing backflips on command and puppy high-fiving go out the door. The dog is training you using the very effective tools of pee, poop and loud barking. You mourn your sense of autonomy that is suddenly gone. You must now care for something else before addressing your own needs, for probably about 14 years.
3. Day Three: Love
You realize the people who say puppies are training for having a baby meant something more than “They’re both cute things that are super silly and a big commitment.” Having a puppy is actually really hard and you have mad respect for people with kids. You see how your partner would be as a parent. Do they do half the work? Do they set the rules and boundaries while you’re the spoiler? You notice they tell the puppy they love it already. You have to reassert frequently that you love one another just as much as the dog.
4. Day Four: Bonding
You know dogs are supposed to like their crates cuz they are like their dens, but it makes you feel like a huge meanie every time you put the puppy in there and listen to her cry. You picture her having nightmares that you’ll lock her outside or bring her back to the shelter and she’ll feel abandoned again. Your dog becomes a canvas for your own dramatic emotions. She’ll start following you from room to room and sleeping under your feet. She’ll wake up and follow you into the kitchen and fall asleep at your feet while you’re just standing there. You’ll realize getting her was a good idea, and you’re gonna be ok.
5. Day Five: Being Popular
Everyone likes you when you have a puppy. You feel almost as popular as you did when you fainted at a wedding and everyone wanted to talk to you at the reception. A couple people don’t like dogs and will avoid you. That’s ok. You stop wearing headphones on walks cuz the dog walks up to anyone and everyone. The cool shiba inu and his cool parents. The accordion guy with a case out for money. They all want to talk about your favorite subject, your dog, so you’re game to meet them. You really do meet your neighbors. Are you extroverted now?
6. Day Six: Training
You wonder if you can train your puppy to spend most of the day on the couch cuddling, watching T.V. and never barking. You realize you are hoping it will turn into a cat. You think about your childhood pets a lot, and realize your mom and dad did a ton of work you didn’t notice because you didn’t help with it at all. You start training your dog to sit and she seems to like it. You also start to notice her “tells.” Before she poops outside, she runs back and forth in a manic way, probably to make herself need to poop under the pressure from your watchful gaze.
7. Day Seven: Help!
You accept any and all help from other people. It takes a village to raise a dog. You find yourself plopping her in a half stranger’s arms to headbutt and wiggle while you clean up her poop. You’ve never been so excited about poop before. When she poops outside instead of on the rug, you and your partner will practically want to pop open a bottle of champagne. You feel good when her poop is really solid and not green, like you are doing ok. Someone starts teaching your dog to high-five and you realize you had no idea what dog training actually looks like.
8. Day Eight: Leaving
You start to feel ok leaving her alone in her kennel. It’s oddly liberating to not be around your dog for a couple hours. You understand why parents like going to work 9-5 and not having to clean up vomit and poop for a brief period.
9. Day Nine: A New Thing Everyday
You realize puppies learn something new everyday. A day’s lesson might be “belly rubs are great” or “I like dog beds” or “I can go up some stairs now” or “I can now jump on your couch and smash my head through the blinds and bark at the neighbors.” Is your dog getting too smart?
10. Day Ten: High-Five
You teach your dog to high-five. You feel like Cesar Millan. She looks so cute high-fiving you almost forgive her for peeing on your brand new bed, going after your plant immediately upon waking and covering your arms and legs with bites. To be fair, she later pees on her own bed, which angers you but kind of feels like her saying “I’m giving myself a taste of my own medicine!” You feel sort of guilty that your pictures of her on social media only show the cute side and leave out the constant rug pooping and scratching. As she farts while headbanging with your shoe in her mouth, you realize you’re both just weirdos. You start thinking … would I ever want another dog?
Photos of Josie by the delightful Leslie Plesser