Like I didn’t have enough going on in my life, what with moving my mom into an assisted living residence, but this past weekend, we also adopted a puppy.
Apparently, I thrive on chaos!
We already have seven cats and a dog — and let me just say that Chance, our 2-year-old dog, is the smartest and best-behaved dog in the world — but we all thought he would benefit from having a brother. Why did we think that? Maybe because he would give us the sad dog eyes whenever he saw us grabbing our car keys and, one-by-one, heading out the door.
I felt so bad that I would literally throw him a bone every time I left the house.
So, I thought it might be nice to have a puppy for Chance to play with and keep company. Plus, I envisioned Chance passing his good potty habits onto his new little friend and bonding instantly, thereby relieving us all from the guilt we felt whenever we left Chance alone.
Too bad dogs can’t talk. Maybe then Chance could have assured us he liked being the only dog in the family, and that he actually looked forward to an empty house. We are a loud family after all. Maybe he did yoga while we were out. Maybe he smoked cigars and played cards with the cats!
But dogs can’t talk. We presumed to know what was good for him, and so we adopted Scout, a Chihuahua-terrier mix the size of a hamster. Scout’s a cutie, with ears that are way too big for him. Hopefully, he will grow into them! One of his big ears shoots out sideways when he hears something, and the other ear just hangs there. It’s adorable.
You know what wasn’t adorable? Chance’s initial reaction to Scout. You could literally see it on his face. He was confused, threatened, and even afraid of the little critter at first. Chance looked enormous compared to Scout. We let them sniff around each other in the backyard for a while, but Chance began growling at him. Chance never growls.
Little Scout could barely walk on the tall grass because he was so small. He stumbled and fell trying to get away from Chance. I had to scoop him up and rescue him.
One thing was clear: I would need to watch Scout constantly to keep him safe. But he was so small! I put a kitten collar on him with a bell on it. It was still too big for his little neck. I spent every moment focused on the sound of that bell.
I discovered early on that Scout likes to burrow under things, which makes it even harder to track him down. He hides under blankets, clothes, even his own dog bed. I was able to manage the situation for the first few days, but soon realized I’d have to leave Chance and Scout alone together while I packed up my mom’s house for the move. I needed a safe place for Scout.
I unearthed our old dog corral from the garage and constructed it in the living room. I put his bed, potty pad, water and food in there with some toys. I knew he wasn’t going to like the corral, but I just couldn’t trust Chance. He kept looking at me with those eyes that clearly asked, “Why is it here, and when is it leaving?”
As I closed the front door, I could hear Scout start to cry. It wasn’t easy, but I knew he’d be safe. I headed to my mom’s house, and a couple hours later, my son Ryan called to tell me that when he returned home from work, Scout was hanging by his little Chihuahua claws on the gate, and whimpering loudly.
The corral was a mess — water and food everywhere and his potty pad ripped to shreds. No surprise there, but still heartbreaking. The good news was that Chance appeared to be concerned about him and was keeping Scout company by sitting outside the gate. Sounds like something a big brother would do.
Potty pads are in every room. There is also poop in every room, but not on the pad. There is pee on my couch, on our beds and on our laps, but not on the pad. I’m losing my mind. I keep firmly telling Scout where to go. I have even interrupted him midstream and placed him on the pad.
“Pee-pee on the pad!” I tell him over and over. It’s our family’s new mantra. “Pee-pee on the pad!”
He did it a couple of times on the pad, and I was ecstatic! I made a huge fuss. I clapped and praised him and gave him a treat and clapped some more. I think I made too big of a fuss. I think I scared him, because he hasn’t gone on the pad since.
Poor Ryan. For some reason, Scout has deemed his bedroom the preferred potty pad. He especially likes to poop on Ryan’s khaki pants that are usually on the floor ... right next to a potty pad! Ryan has also had the misfortune of stepping in it. We can’t figure it out. If only dogs could talk.
Now the roles have reversed between Chance and Scout. Scout steals all of Chance’s treats, bones and toys, and Chance does nothing. Scout is also getting really good at wrestling. He is growing and is now the size of a guinea pig. Chance has accepted the fact that ‘it’ is not leaving. This is the new normal.
They have started exploring the backyard side-by-side, chewing on the grass and playing. They even take naps together.
My mom isn’t thrilled with her new normal either. Her assisted-living community, as beautiful as it is, must feel a bit like a dog corral to her. They put a Wander-Guard bracelet on her yesterday, so she can’t leave without an alarm going off. Moving her wasn’t easy either, but we know she’ll be safe.
Chaos — I guess I do thrive on it. Between kids and pets and a mom with Alzheimer’s, I am a chaos junkie, and I suppose I’m now due for another fix.
Could somebody please get me some grandkids?