The Kid, the Girl, and the Puppy
November 06, 2012
This was the summer of the puppy. I told my kids I was going to adopt a new family member once they both were off to their various institutions of higher learning in the fall, and they said, "GET ONE NOW!" But why now? We won’t be able to go on vacation if we get a puppy. The whole summer will be all about the puppy. Both the Kid and the Girl protested- If you get a puppy after we leave, it won’t know us. And, they reasoned, if you get a puppy now, you’ll have two extra people with flexible schedules to help you care for it and potty train it. Yeah, right, I thought. You mean two extra people to ignore it and let it chew shoes.
I bowed to the pressure. Bob, our poor elderly beagle, was lonely and bereaved. A puppy, I thought, would be just the thing to make her feel 10 years younger. Or 70 years younger in dog years. So we went looking through the Petfinder website. Soon enough, we chose a mixed breed christened, temporarily, Tina Turner. We were meeting Tina in Liberty. Testing a puppy’s temperament is tough, but I felt there were certain things we needed to know. Such as, would the pup be afraid of large men? Since my husband wasn’t available, I borrowed the Girl’s boy. The Boy is 6 feet plus of gentle giant. I knew if the puppy wasn’t afraid of the Boy, she wouldn’t be afraid of any men. I bribed the Boy with dinner at a local fast food joint, and we raced to meet Tina Turner.
Bright eyes, shiny black coat, a wet nose, a cuddly package smaller than the Boy’s shoe. The rescue lady was wise- she placed the puppy in the Girl’s arms and the Girl squealed. I would have to be a hard-hearted mama indeed to say no after that. Tina was rechristened Francesca Josephine (Frankie, for short) on the spot, with the approval of the foster mom, and we went to PetSmart to buy supplies. The Boy was put to work carrying the puppy, and he cradled her in his arms gently. Up until that moment, the Boy had been an avowed cat person. Puppy food, a kitty collar with a bell (the dog collars were too large), and some toys later, and we were on our way.
It broke out pretty much how I thought it would. I was the primary puppy mamma. My son, the Kid, gentle soul that he is, was the secondary caregiver. I put Frankie’s crate in the Kid’s room, so he put her to bed and, unfortunately for him, got up with her when she woke up. At 5:00 a.m., the Girl was the primary instigator. She loved to wind the puppy up. "Frankie! Frankie!" she squealed, sending Frankie into absolute spasms of joy. And then the Girl would complain that Frankie was too frantic when she was around. Really? I wonder why.
The true test of Frankie’s temperament came soon enough. The Girl had her graduation party; fifty million teenaged girls came in and squealed when they beheld the five pound pup. Frankie was passed from hand to hand, from lap to lap, all evening- treatment she tolerated with the best of attitudes.
The Girl said to me one day, "Why don’t we go on vacation?" I said, "Puppy." She said, "I don’t understand why we can’t go on a trip..." I said again, "PUPPY! I told you, dear Girl, that if we got the puppy this summer, it would be a puppy summer. No vacations. No trips. Puppy." She said, "But I don’t understand why we can’t..." "PUPPY!" I interrupted. And thus ended all discussion.
I was in charge of potty training, which was so much fun during our 110 degree summer. We’ve suffered tragic losses in our shoe collection, and the Spot Bot has had quite a workout. But things are starting to calm down for us and for Frankie. She’s successfully completed puppy obedience classes, and she’s now enrolled in intermediate classes. She’s been wonderful for Bob (Barbara Jean), our sweet beagle. And she charms everyone she meets with her sunny outlook and friendly nature. We’ve decided Frankie is most likely a basset/long-haired dachshund mix. So a dachsett hound? She’s very funny- looking, with short basset legs and a long dachshund nose. She’s quick to learn, and sometimes I think she’s laughing at me. As tough as it is to get up so early, I don’t regret adopting her for one single minute.
The house is quieter. Both children are gone to college—the Girl for her freshman year, the Kid for his sophomore. The Boy comes by to visit every now and again. But we have Frankie to stir things up. Puppies take time and attention, but she’s been well worth it. I encourage everyone who is thinking of getting a pet to check out adopting a dog or cat from any rescue association or shelter. Good companions are there, waiting for families like ours.
Platte City Branch