A dog’s purpose

Two weeks ago we brought home a new puppy. Her name is Coco and she’s absolutely turned our lives upside down. In many ways, we should have seen this coming. We’ve been building up to this moment for a couple of years now. The girls continued to make requests for a pet. Finally, by the end of last year, the chorus of four little girls demanding a dog was too strong. So we relented, but with conditions. We held out long enough for them to plausibly be old enough to care for a pet. We extracted promises that they would clean up after, feed, and walk Coco. In the weeks leading up to her coming home, we even saw an uptick in children voluntarily completing chores to demonstrate their own responsibility. But when the moment of truth came, guess who has been left with the chores? I ended up with a new dog, and I’m not sure how this will play out.

Our adventure with Coco began auspiciously. Though we’d met her when she was first born and visited her a few times while she was weening with her mother, we hadn’t spent extended time with her in our own home. Within the first 24 hours home she’d peed and pooped both inside and outside the house. Apparently she really enjoys our nice clean beige rug and couch in our living room. Makes perfect sense, serves as a perfect backdrop for her puppy excrements!

For the first few days we settled into a routine of me rushing to take her out in the morning to relieve herself, followed by almost futile attempts to get work done afterwards. It seemed like the more familiar she became with our home, the more she wanted to play. And pee. And poop. I found myself taking her outside every few hours, but soon that didn’t seem to be enough. Factor in the additional attempts to train her with basic commands, sit, down, come, pee, poop on command, and this was turning into a round the clock full time job. I already have a few of those with my actual work and raising kids.

Coco vs the Roumba

My daughters, once the ringleaders of the “let’s get a dog” crew had abandoned me. Suddenly, they were nowhere to be found. Apparently our youngest two daughters are scared of Coco, and so every time she comes near them they run screaming. Meanwhile, our oldest two have attempted to play with and walk her, but they’re deterred by her mouthing stage that she’s going through. Apparently puppies have to be trained not to bite. They are after all still animals right?

I was beginning to get discouraged. When I had to go out of town for business, I was kind of glad to get some time away from the madness, but felt bad that I was leaving my wife in the thick of it by herself. It sort of reminded me of the first business trip I took when our oldest Riley was born. I slept like a baby in that hotel my first night away! Funny thing though, for some reason I found myself talking about Coco. I even kept sharing pictures of her. Could I actually be missing her?

By the time I arrived home, I had resigned myself to accept the fact that Coco just might be a fixture in our family. I left convinced that perhaps this wasn’t going to work out for us. We’d given it the good old college try, but she was just too disruptive of our family routines and way of life. What if she just wasn’t a good fit for us, or we weren’t a good fit for her?

Last night for movie night it was my pick, so I choose the movie A Dog’s Purpose. I was initially going to choose the movie Marley and Me. Either way it was going to be a movie about raising a pet due to our experiences of the past two weeks. By the end of the movie there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. My favorite line? Bailey’s (the dog) assertion that perhaps a dog’s purpose in life was simply to be here now, in whatever season or version of life you may find yourself. If that’s not a lesson we could use right now, I don’t know what is.

I think Coco is right where she belongs right now, and I can’t wait to see what she has to teach us.


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