Don’t get a puppy

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer
kkellar@fortfrances.com

Don’t get a puppy. Those in the know will tell you they are highly overrated.

It’s me. I am in the know.

Don’t get a puppy. You’ll bring home what looks like a tiny bundle of adorable fluff before discovering that, in reality, you’ve brought home a tiny bundle of razor sharp fangs. Don’t let their soft ears and soft belly and soft tail and soft paws fool you; those teeth are sharper than a scalpel and no amount of puppy dog eyes can make up for it. Maybe a little bit of puppy dog eyes will make up for it. Especially when they’re begging you to rub the soft belly.

Don’t get a puppy. This is doubly true if you enjoy sleep. A puppy will ruin your sleep schedule. You’ll have finally settled in for a good long night’s rest, only to be disturbed by whimpers coming from the other room. Once you drag yourself out of bed and throw open the crate door, you’ll probably have to bring your puppy out for a potty break in the middle of the night. And what do you get for your troubles? A little yawn, a sleepy smile and a quick cuddle. The nerve.

Don’t get a puppy. Puppies don’t come pre-loaded with all of the things they need to know to live with us. They don’t understand that the floor isn’t for going to the bathroom, that the cats don’t want to play with them that way, that the big pulpwood trucks on the highway wouldn’t even notice them if your puppy decided to pick a fight. Instead, you have to be patient and teach them all the things they need to know, to keep them safe and happy and well-adjusted. You’ll learn more about interacting with another living being that depends on you entirely You also learn compassion, patience, consistency, and maybe even a little bit of self-discipline along the way. For your hard work, you’ll be rewarded with love, affection, engagement and plenty of puppy nips. The nips will lessen over time, you hope.

Don’t get a puppy. Did you know there’s an entire industry built up around having strangers teach you how to raise your dog? Your own dog? They come to you with open eyes and open ears and a shoulder to cry on (or so I’m told) and will help set your expectations to be a bit more realistic, and show you how to read your pup’s whines and barks and body language, and teach you the best ways to communicate with your dog, and all you get from it is your pup listening a little bit better, walking a bit more confidently, becoming a better partner along your life’s journey.

Don’t get a puppy. When even the slightest thing is amiss, your brain will spiral into some dark and weird places. Puppy isn’t coming out of the crate right away? Must be seriously ill. Puppy pooped a little differently? Same story. Puppy bark sounded different from the next room over? Clearly on death’s door. And then you think about all of the money you’ve spent on vaccines and boosters and making sure your puppy is healthy, happy, and alive, and don’t you just know it? You’re ready to spend it all over again, as long as it means your new friend is right there with you for as long as possible. Of course, it then turns out your puppy was just a little gassy and will happily let you know, right in your face.

Exhibit A: Puppus frustratus

Don’t get a puppy. You’ll be taking your puppy on a walk and everyone will want to meet you and say hello and chat. You’ll meet new people, learn new things about them, swap stories of beloved dogs long gone and puppy plans for the future. The stranger you used to see on the riverfront becomes someone you know, however little, and as you see them again and again, you find that your world opens a little bit more and, well, that isn’t really so bad, is it?

Don’t get a puppy. It is a supremely frustrating experience. Just like with human puppies (they’re called infants, I’ve heard), the puppy will test you to your wits’ end. Things that you took for granted yesterday, like sitting on command, will sometimes become life or death struggles today, and you wonder why you even bother. There will be pee in the crate weeks after the last accident, or that sock you swore was put well away has a new, slobbery hole in it. If you get frustrated, if you raise your voice – even though you know better, you do – your puppy will shy away with those big, hurt eyes, and you feel like the worst human being in the world. There will be tears, most of them your own, and then a bit later, after you’ve calmed down and made sure all the possible situations that could present themselves for your puppy to get into trouble with are taken care of, for sure this time, they will come up to you, and roll on the floor in that silly way only they do. Or, maybe they grab their monkey toy and teach it who’s boss, and you remember that, once upon a time, you had accidents too, and you learn to let it go. Then they will happily saunter off to get into trouble again, and the wheel turns on.

Don’t get a puppy. For all your efforts, all your sweat and tears and blood, all you get out of it is a lifelong companion, a friend to take with you on adventures, a creature who will return to you the love you show it ten-fold, and who will constantly keep you challenged, thinking, learning, feeling and appreciating everything that you have and could have. Sure, the life you had before is gone for the most part, but in its place is something new and exciting, and when the day finally, FINALLY, comes that you can both curl up on the couch for a well-deserved afternoon nap…

Well… maybe you should get a puppy.

I didn’t tell you it wasn’t worth it.