Parenting Chooch the Pooch

Did y’all catch this guest post at Geek in Heels today? I was so flattered to pinch hit while Jenny takes maternity leave for her a-dor-a-buhl baby girl (seriously… newborn pic alert people… run don’t walk!).  I’m cross posting it here for perpetuity purposes.  And thanks all you guys that clicked over… make yourselves at home and please help yourself to the punch bowl!


So in honor of the arrival of Jenny’s sweet baby girl #2, I thought I’d write something pertaining to babies or parenting or something.  The only minor glitch here being that I am not, in fact, a parent.  (Mostly I just prefer to precariously delight in the pregnancies/babies of friends, relatives, colleagues, bloggers, facebook friends that I haven’t talked to in 10 years, strangers on the street, etc.)  But… earlier this year my husband and I did became proud adoptive parents to a bouncing baby beagle, now known to the world as Chooch:

 So although I am aware that pet-parenthood is probably .0000008% the difficulty level of human-parenthood, I do at least feel like we’ve been given the slightest crash course in caretaking before being sent out into the wilderness.  Here’s why…

POOP.  I have to start with poop.  Duh.  Parents are always talking about poop, the poop, all of the poop!  Being married to a guy who’s 29 going on 10, poop discussions already had a more prominent role in our lives than I was comfortable with, but they’ve increased exponentially since pup acquisition.  Now exchanges like this are common in the household:

“Hmm, Chooch hasn’t pooped all day!  Is he OK?!”
“Oh it’s cool, he had a pretty voluminous one this morning.”
“Oh OK.  Hey I forgot to tell you he pooped out a Reese’s wrapper yesterday!”  

We’re in Charge of the Well-Being of a Living Creature.  Historically I never had the best batting average with plants, so at first I wondered why on earth I thought I’d be able to actually take care of a mammal.  But now I am amazed that the tiny, clueless pup that first pitter-pattered into our home has now become a strapping 28 pounder and obedience school graduate, all under our care.  Win! Unfortunately this responsibility also comes with a great deal of worrying about his well-being.  And by worrying, I mean neurotic bouts of irrational panic.  For instance, the other week I was at an all-day yoga class, and realized I couldn’t remember if I’d blown out a candle at home.  So being the insane person I am, I became convinced the house would burn down in my absence (my husband was at work).  I said to myself “Even if the house burns down, we have insurance, whatevs.”  Then I realized…. OMG CHOOCH! At this point we were doing a meditation exercise wherein we were breathing very slowly and counting backwards from 50, so my brain visualizations were like “48…….. Chooch fleeing the fire, desperately clawing the door!…..47……. Chooch confused, crying for his parents to save him!…….46……..FIREMEN! ARRIVE! TOO! LATE!

We Never Sleep In.  Chooch is on some crazy biorhythm and wakes up about 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning. And when you’re a dog, EVERY morning is Christmas morning because you’re getting food! And a walk! OMG! He loves it.  This is convenient during the week but sadly, our leisurely weekend mornings are long gone, and instead every day begins with Chooch stomping up to the head of the bed and jabbing his paws into our faces/tracheas/sternums. 

We “Co-Sleep” Even Though We Swore We Never Would.  After our wedding I banked all of our Macy’s gift cards and bought this beautiful bedding.  Duvet… nice sheets… BREAKFAST PILLOWS for Pete’s sake… I felt like the most rock-star wifey when I used to make that bed.  I SWORE the dog would never get near it.  Guess how this story ends! After round #23985 of Chooch jumping on the bed and me removing him, I was just sick of it.  The breakfast pillows have now been relegated to the closet, and if it will buy me 15 extra minutes of sleep (see above), I don’t even care if he snuggles under the sheets.  This despite the fact that we regularly witness his foot getting caught in the crossfire of his piddle.

If Someone Asks About the Dog We Can’t Shut Up.  Seriously, it’s embarrassing.  You’ll wish you’d never asked because suddenly we’re scrolling through the phone to shove pictures in your face and telling you a 45 minute long story about when he went to get his nails clipped.

Good Cop/Bad Cop Roles are Established.  My husband will firmly correct the dog when he’s doing something bad and I’m all DON’T YOU SPEAK TO MY BABY LIKE THAT! Or he will try to discourage me from indulging the dog with people food and I’m like “But…..BUT!….. If we deny him this peanut butter he’ll never forget and he’ll think we hate him and he may never recover and look he wants it so badly!” We also had a great deal of disagreement in the first few weeks over the controversial crate– as I felt it was an inhumane, torturous device created by possibly the devil himself.  Happily we were able to phase out the crate due to our dog being the smartest, most trustworthy, most well-behaved pup ever.  DUH.

Travel Becomes a Serious Ordeal.  Yep, no more spontaneity there! Now it’s: has he been sufficiently exhausted such that we can get him to sleep most of the ride? Do you have his dog bed? A fresh bone? His bunny? His travel water cup? What’s our targeted potty break site?

We Learn to Communicate with a Being with No Language Skills.  (Or, another anecdote about poop).  So, early on when Chooch was transitioning from the crate, one night he woke up in the middle of night and was whining and carrying on like whoa.  We thought he was mixed up and believed it was morning/was demanding his walk, but apparently someone was having tummy troubles.  He wouldn’t quiet down so we put him in the crate, and a few minutes later a familiar yet dreaded scent wafted through the bedroom.  POO! The poor little guy had diarrhea! We felt terrible.  We felt terrible-er when he bolted from the crate and traipsed a poo trail all over the second floor.  We spent the 2:00 am–3:00 am hour cleaning the dog, the floors, the carpets, the crate… disaster.  Moral of the story: rookie error! Never again will we misread that cue!

We Learn to Looooove.  Awww.  A serious note to end on.  It’s true, we adore that little furball! There is something so different about loving a little, innocent, dependent creature! Some mornings when I’m closing the door behind me to go to work and he’s staring at me quizzically with his little wagging tail, I honestly tear up! Is that so pathetic? Don’t answer.  This makes me unbeLIEVably afraid for future human babies because I can’t imagine how much of an emotional mess I could become.  YIKES, people. 



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