Hello, Ivy: Adjusting to life with a new puppy
For the most part, I am a vegetarian. Then why, you might ask, does my house smell like bacon?
The reason is a 10 pound, 10-week old fur baby named Ivy. She is an Aussiedoodle – her mother, Penny, is an Australian shepherd and her father, Jackpot, is a poodle. This is the breed (ish) that my husband fell in love with. This is also the breed (ish) that had people commenting, “oh…um…they are quite active, aren’t they?” and “at your age, really?”
At the suggestion of the breeder, we started out right away with a dog trainer. It was our second day with Ivy and she slept through her entire training session. We were feeling proud and a bit righteous about her calm demeanor. Mentioning to the trainer how mellow she was, she just smiled knowingly and said she would see us next time…to help train our (soon to be) flying velociraptor. This puppy was so fluffy, cuddly, sweet and cute — how on earth could anyone compare her to a prehistoric monster? And smart! She came to us at eight weeks and she was potty trained. Amazing!
Well, the other shoe dropped. At least the one that we weren’t currently trying to pull out of Ivy’s mouth. The breeder may have mentioned phrases like “very active, needs strenuous exercise and crazy puppy time,” but seriously, these puppies have to be the cutest on the planet.
So about crazy puppy time -- there is no reasoning with an Aussiedoodle puppy. About three times a day, when we are mostly trying to extract our clothes and appendages from her sharp, needle-like little teeth, and when she is not biting us, she is racing around grabbing and chewing everything in sight. We have an Aussiedoodle group on Facebook and the new owners join, displaying beautiful photos of their precious new pups with comments about how in love they are, and then after they have had the puppy for a few days, it becomes a support group. One couple even said that they hide from their dog during crazy puppy time and text one another when it might be safe to come out!
It’s been 14 years since we had a puppy. Our first trip to the pet store was eye opening. Should her food be grain free or not? Training treats made from every possible type of food. Self-feeding toys, kongs and everything under the sun to stuff them with, tooth brushes, car seats or halters, portable water bottles, poop bag holders that attach to the leash, doggie puzzles…and the chewsticks and chewy animal parts — ears and noses and tracheas, oh my!! I won’t even mention what the “bully sticks” that “every puppy just loves” are made from…that’s what “Google” is for. Thus the bacon smell — in everything.
I thought I was done feeling guilty since my kids left the nest. Was it fair for me to deny my puppy disgusting body parts of dead animals because of my beliefs? I tried chew sticks made of cheese and vegetables, both of which I think she nibbles just to appease me. So…I wash my hands several times a day with lavender soap and tell myself that those animals are in heaven after dying of natural causes.
Now we are stepping on chew bones, and toys all over what used to be our pristine empty nester home. We are stubbing our toes on her crate that is right next to my side of the bed (so that I can reach my hand into it to soothe her when her stuffed lamb with a real heartbeat isn’t quite doing the trick). We are dragging ourselves outside in the middle of the night to take her to “go potty,” trying to not make a sound (other than the occasional “ouch”) so that she will hopefully, go right back to sleep…finally giving up and making coffee at about 5 a.m. wishing we had even a tiny bit of our puppy’s energy.
Is it all worth it? Someday, if we live long enough, she will be our constant and loyal companion. We contemplate that when she calms down and we bury our faces into her amazingly soft puppy fur while she is sleeping and breathe in that wonderful puppy smell, as she makes those sweet little grunting puppy noises. She won’t be teething for long, and in the meantime, there is nothing in the whole wide world better than puppy kisses.
Vicki Bernie is a freelance writer, wife, mother, grandmother, and dog person…loving “Chapter Two” on Daniel Island.