Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Saga of Pinto.

Will this blog be temporarily devoted to my new dog? Probably. I'm sure it'll lift, though, as soon as something more monumental than having a fussy, cuddly, insane little chow mutt living in my kitchen happens. See also: North Carolina springtime, which my bones tell me is imminent, or the gift of gainful employment descends, or one of my pieces gets accepted, or a hurricane hits or something.

As of thirty minutes from right now, Pinto will have been a part of our lives for one solid week.

And Jesus H, what a week.

When I decided I wanted a dog, really, I wanted a dog--I wanted Penny, my family dog in Tulsa, who loves nothing more than spending all morning on my lap while I am reading, who will expend what little energy she has left chasing the cat (needing no more than someone, usually my dad, going "BRRRAWWWWR" to make her run endless laps around the house), who dances for her dinner.

Pinto, however, is not Penny. He is also not a dog. He is a puppy.

More specifically, he is a little furry adorable hellbeast monster baby.

I think we have Pinto for all of two hours, spent mainly with him sleeping on our laps, when we decide to give him some alone time and he unleashes the scream. Really. It's a scream. It escalates from whimpers to a howl to this garbled yelp and finally, finally, there's the scream--it will make you jump. It will make you worry. It will make you paranoid that someone in the apartment complex will hear, and suspect, and call the cops because clearly a small child is being brutally tortured over in that couple's place, saying I never liked the looks of those two, anyway, he's so much taller than she is and they never seem to leave their house--I think they might be drug dealers or terrorists or graduate students or something dangerous like that.

At first, we laugh at the scream, because it is such a disproportionately hideous and enormous noise emitting from something so small and sweet-looking. We have brushed up on all the Dog Whisperer tactics, but still, we go to consult The Book of Cesar, and he tells us: Your puppy will whine. You must ignore it.

So we do. Or at least, we try to.

But it's three days later and we are low on sleep and energy and Pinto's adorableness is wearing off, or at least becoming familiar, and suddenly the scream starts up while we're not with him and keeps going and keeps going and keeps going and we both lose it and isolate ourselves and pretty much have ourselves a go-to-pieces.

I should add, though, that Pinto's healthy, and everyone I've consulted--Cesar Milan, Dog Godmother Katherine Owner of Hank, my parents, Rob's parents, every idiotic forum on the entirety of the internet--has agreed that puppy yowling is merely the dog's way of expressing simple fear and loneliness. And I hate to say it, but Pinto, buddy, we all get scared. We all get lonely. I know you're just a puppy, but I'm 23 and I feel like making that noise sometimes (instead I go to bars--if there were such a thing as a puppy bar, lord knows we'd take you).

Point being, I showed up to school with bags under my eyes and a whole host of puppy scratches lining my arms like self-mutilations, and everyone's asking, "How's Pinto? How's the puppy?" and I honestly can't hear them because the echoes of his little puppy hollers are still ringing in my ears.

But then!

The next day, we'd decided to ignore Pinto's morning yelps. These, to me, are excusable yelps--he's been in his crate all night, he probably needs to pee pretty badly--so we've been answering them, taking him outside at 6 in the morning, then spending a very bleary hour entertaining him in the kitchen so he will hopefully zonk out and allow us to get another hour of shut-eye. This hadn't been working too well, making both of us zombies, making Pinto feel neglected--so we'd decided, maybe he can hold it til 8. Then we can all be functioning human beings, or dogs, depending on who's who.

And what do you know, the little fucker did it. Rob goes downstairs when all is quiet, both of us resolutely cramming the pillows over our heads when he had his 4 a.m. round of whining, his 6 a.m. follow-up (the yelping only lasts 20 minutes at most, but still), and there is tiny sleepy Pinto, no accident, no aggression, ready to go.

Yes, it's been tough. Yes, my mother thinks we should rename her "grandpuppy" (don't get me started) Marley, in honor of that idiotic little book that was made into a shitty rom-com. Yes, I'm apprehensive, and yes, I don't sleep well at nights, not because I'm not exhausted, but because I'm terrified he's going to contract Parvo or choke on his bone or just be miserable, and that I'm not doing a very good job, and I'm pretty lousy at this, and well, hell, this has all just gone wrong, hasn't it.

But I remember that Pinto could still be in that field where he was found, shivering in the rain, or in the groddy foster house where we picked him up, or he could be starving or sick or homeless or dead. So being raised by two fairly incompetent twenty-somethings with short tempers but infinite affection to dish out might be bad, but it could be a lot worse. As Rob says, "I have to keep reminding myself--puppies don't hold grudges. Puppies don't hold grudges."

And it's been great for me, too--the past week I think has been the first where I haven't spent 80% of it feeling sorry for myself, or feeling itchy and discontent, or feeling generally out-of-sorts. I did have a spell the Day of the Perpetual Scream, but it passed pretty quick. Moreover, I've been more productive this week than I have all semester, because my time's suddenly become worthwhile--when Pinto's napping, fuck! It's time to do something! Quick, before he stirs! To the keyboard! To the drafts! To work!

So it's been up and down in turns, but puppy-having is finally settling into some form of constancy--he only fusses when we leave the room sometimes, not all the time. He sleeps the night through and will happily bed down in his crate. He still chews the shit out of my pants legs, but he hasn't attacked my arms in days. It's going to be a long, long journey, I know, but I have foretelling dreams starring me and a big yellow dog, where we are driving across the Midwest on an adventure, and we are throwing amazing Frisbees, and then Pinto talks to me and I realize I'm sleeping. I'm hopeful, to say the least, but damn, wow, this has been an experience.

And truthfully? After puppy-rearing--puppies who bite you, and destroy things, and who are an entirely different species and whose faces bear no expression whatsoever (he's a chow-mix, aka the most inscrutable dog in the universe), I'm pretty sure baby-having is going to be a cinch.