So, we got a puppy. I always swore that I could never have an inside dog. I grew up with barn dogs, and the concept of inside dogs just didn’t click. However, I finally gave in. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt so unprepared for something in my life. A lot of of people have been comparing the whole puppy thing to having a baby. This comparison is not doing a lot to increase my confidence. Holy cow, it could’t be that awful, could it? Well, here’s what I think about that comparison so far (3 days in…):
General Preparedness Needed: I hate change. I have a habit of greeting new adventures with nervous diarrhea calmed only by excessively reading about and planning for every eventuality imaginable (see reasons for taking so long to launch this blog.) During most transitions in my life, I had a vague notion of what lay ahead. High school into college: there would be classes. College into med school: more classes, also cadavers. Med school into residency: patients and white coats, somewhat longer. What about with the introduction of a new living organism into the household?
BABY: When I had our first daughter, Natalie, I had been a pediatric resident for three years. I was pretty clear about what went down during childbirth and the immediate postnatal period. But once we took the baby home, I had NO IDEA what we’d actually do all day other than stare at this baby.
Having Natalie was like travelling to Mexico with four years of high school Spanish. I had a working vocabulary and knew how to conjugate some verbs, but in in reality I was functionally illiterate. All of the studying and life experience with other people’s babies merely gave me some familiarity with the vocabulary. I knew about words like “nipple shields” and “every 2-3 hour feeding around the clock,” and “jaundice.” Despite this theoretical knowledge, the reality of “no sleep whatsoever because you’re worrying during the intervening 2-3 hours,” “nipples like ground beef,” and “dude, you baby is so orange how could you not have noticed and her bilirubin is 23” hit me like a ton of bricks.
Baby preparedness score on a scale of 1-10: 2
Associated panic: 10
PUPPY: To carry through the metaphor of high school Spanish, my knowledge of puppy behavior was limited to “hola” and “cerveza.” I’d seen pictures of puppies, and I’d heard other people talk about them. However, believing that I’d never be charged with caring for one myself, I remained blissfully ignorant. The girls chose a puppy on a Friday that would be ready to come home the following Monday.
I had time to read a bit, but it only served to confuse me more. I had no idea that puppies lost their baby teeth, that there is a verb form of “crate” or that an initial vet visit requires a fecal sample. Despite this, I’ve found the past two days strangely liberating. I’ve been woefully unprepared, but because I don’t know what to worry about, I haven’t. And I’m choosing to ignore the advice of all but a select few. Furthermore, my shocking unpreparedness did not translate into greater anxiety. I think this is mostly due to the fact that my uterus isn’t attempting to disappear back into the general milieu of my abdomen as it was after the baby. But it could also be due to the whole “ignorance is bliss” factor. Or that maybe it’s a wee bit easier to fake it ’til you make it with the canine neonate.
Puppy preparedness score: 0.5
Associated panic: 1
Ease of Daily Maintenance: I’m kind of a tasky individual. I derive no greater pleasure than crossing things off my daily to-do list and have taken to the whole Bullet Journal thing like a house on fire. How did the addition of the newcomers affect my daily productivity?
BABY: Before I had the baby, I honestly thought that during my maternity leave, I’d catch up on a lot of neglected household tasks, like filing and sorting through the junk that my mother had finally cleared out of my childhood bedroom. At the end of said maternity leave I’d added unfilled baby-books to the stack of unaddressed paperwork, and I still have a couple of cardboard boxes labelled Angie’s junk languishing in the basement. Man, those babies can’t do ANYTHING for themselves! People say, “all they do is poop, eat and sleep!” But they don’t do a darn bit of it on their own! Even the pooping can require assistance (bicycle those legs, ladies!)! It was hard to accept, but during that especially difficult first two months, I started making to do lists as follows:
- Keep baby alive
- Walk from couch to bathroom 3 times
- Consider showering
- Bonus task: unload dishwasher
Baby ease of use score: 0.5 (points awarded for independent respiration and digestion of food)
PUPPY: Guys, puppies can walk. They defecate ON THEIR OWN. They have teeth and only eat TWO TO THREE TIMES PER DAY. I’m finding the most burdensome task is watching the little guy like a hawk to make sure he doesn’t pee somewhere in the house or get into other puppy mischief. That and picking up his toys that my now-older baby and her sister leave lying around the house. Today I both showered AND I’m writing a blog post. Because we hope to have an agreeable, pleasant pet in some years’ time, I am spending time socializing him (chatting with the neighbors) and starting to train him (sitting outside with him in this glorious spring weather). All in all…
Puppy ease of use score: 9
Tomorrow I hope to address the two final areas of comparison:
- Interference with sleep
- Feelings of accomplishment
For those of you who’ve done both, what do you think of the comparison? And why to people like to try and scare me so much?