We brought Maddock home on December 6. He’s our new family member. I loved him the minute I realized I could: The minute we learned he would in fact be the one to come home with us. He is a Scottish Deerhound. He is about 33 pounds and his head reaches a few inches above my kneecap. He has a handsome face, expressive eyes, and he’s black and grey. Mostly grey. With some red highlights, or brindling. (His coloring is a lot like that on my own head, if I miss an appointment at the hair salon.)
He’s adorable. Even after he threw up in the car in the second hour of our two-hour drive home. (He’d been in a car for a total of perhaps 45 minutes prior to that, and under far less stressful conditions.)
He’s charming. Even after we learned he had giardiasis and needed a strong course of medication that would not only prompt more diarrhea but also make him throw up.
He’s a sweetheart. Even after he’s tried to eat whatever has come out of him, at whatever end.
I share these details because I sincerely had doubts as to whether I could handle these aspects of puppyhood. The gross, smelly, baffling and infuriating aspects of rearing an animal who, for whatever reason, you have chosen to love.
There were moments in that first week or so he was here (when I was alone with him, working from home, while my husband was at work at his office, or in Mexico for work, and the kids were at school, when I was taking him to the vet and dealing with all manner of messes) where I thought: “What the hell am I doing? I am not qualified. I don’t have the stomach for this. I don’t have the time for this. How do I get out of this?”
But they were only moments. Panic passes. And then, you just do what you have to do. More accurately: You do what you chose to do.
I’m tougher than I thought. This morning, as I chased our dog around the yard, imploring him to drop the piece of frozen poo he had found as was happily munching, my husband, working from home, came out to see how I was doing.
“Our dog is eating his own shit,” I shared, as I stopped our dog and gently held his mouth open so that he might drop the offending feces.
Now, I was running around in my pajamas and parka, glasses fogging up, my hair tied in a knot on my head, parka flailing about and boots loose around my ankles, picking up poo and cleaning our dog. I was gloriously unkempt and mildly unsanitary.
And my husband was looking at me with… Respect and admiration.
I can’t explain this, really, but I don’t really recall him looking at me like that after being home all day with our children at their youngest and neediest. I think it’s hard to express respect and admiration when you just know the person can do something. My husband has known forever that I am a 100% competent mother. He’s never batted an eye at the way I raise the kids, the way I care for them and handle problems. I think perhaps he knows that raising kids is something I always wanted to do.
Raising a puppy–he didn’t know for sure. I didn’t know for sure. I mean, about 13 years ago we were dog sitting for my friends’ two dogs and I couldn’t even pick up after the dogs. I begged my husband to do it. It was all so icky.
But after the past two weeks and two days, I know. And my husband knows. And Maddock knows. Maddock looks for me when I am not in the room. He walks (or trots) to me when he’s nervous. He relaxes if I stroke his head. He submits to me and my baby wipes on his face and feet after his romps through a hidden pile of poo. He nuzzles, and murmurs. He demonstrates warmth to me. To all of us. We’re his new family. Pack.
My husband asked me last night if I liked having a dog.
I nodded yes. “I think he loves me. Do dogs love? Okay, maybe he just needs me. I still like it.”
My husband said, “He loves you. You’ll see: You’ll never find a more loyal friend.”
I hope he’s right. Maddock is stuck with us, after all..