Near total collapse the last couple of days: achiness, exhaustion, lack of focus. And weird, disturbing dreams about violations of the natural order.
And this puppy is so much work. He’s losing some of his housetraining, probably inspired by our crappy housekeeping and our inability to read his cues. The cats are in total exile during the day, all the doors are kept shut, and he’s put to bed in his inescapable crib at night (and the cats freed from exile). He destroys things. He cries. He whines. He attempts to assert his independence. He begs. He gets into everything he can see. He puts the most astonishing things into his mouth. He has accidents. He gets ridiculously carsick. He can’t control his bladder very well or very long, and I have to get up at the crack of dawn to take care of him. Anytime I can’t hear or see him, I assume he’s doing something bad and half the time I’m right. The way I feel responsible for him, all solitary ‘the buck stops here’ish, is why I never want to have kids unless Kevin is also completely enthusiastic about them. I don’t ever want to feel guilty about a kid of mine waking up his father the way I feel bad about Dante climbing all over Kevin when I take him out of his crib for the last hour of the night.
Kevin and Raymond both find the loud, mobile, bumpy growl-filled dog games that fill our hall a bit overwhelming in our small space, but I never mind because I always know exactly what Dante is up to when I hear those sounds and there’s a chance he’ll take a nap afterwards.
On the bright side, he’s a practically indestructible BiteMeez for Hannah, he plays sit-and-fetch even better than she does, and he’s a surprising master of the Baby Mammal Defense System (which invokes the Cuddle the Untaught Tolerance Engine).
But oh, he’s exhausting. Switching between providing limits, guidance and discipline for a rambunctious stubborn unruly hellion to providing affection and comfort for a young animal to providing positive reinforcement for good manners is so tiring. The constant sense of need-to-monitor is tiring. It’s stuff I recall from babysitting Nathan when he was young, but at that point in my life I had a lot less going on.
The frustration is tempered some by knowing he’s supposed to grow out of much of this. I know I could lock him up a lot more than I do and minimize some of that sense of exhaustion, but I sort of think that will make some of the problems into ones that extend into adulthood– that if I don’t teach him about chewing and destroying now, and redirect that energy, it’ll be a bigger problem when he’s an adult and weighs 75 lbs instead of 20. Same with toliet training.
He has temper tantrums. I don’t know how else to describe them. Not the tears and yelling part of a child’s tantrums, but when he wants to do something he simply isn’t allowed to do, that he knows he isn’t allowed to do, and I have to physically restrain him as he squirms and whines and wriggles and tries desperately to get away and do it anyhow because dammit, who am I to say what he can and can’t do? That sure feels like a temper tantrum. And, somewhat like what I did with kids, some of the ‘who are you’ is answered by ‘somebody a lot bigger and stronger than you who is patient enough to sit through your kicking and screaming’.
I don’t know if that’s entirely the ‘right’ thing to do with a dog. But it seems better than, uh, overwhelming negative reinforcement and of course there’s no appeal to reason. I guess we’ll find out.