This summer, I watched my sisters four kids for a week while she and her husband went on vacation. And that week turned into a parenting crash-course.
Here's the thing; I still didn't experience full single-parenthood. The oldest two went to a day camp and my parents helped out with them most days. But parenthood was hard.
I found myself staying up later than I wanted to just so I could have some time to myself. I took naps whenever I had the chance to. Even then, I didn't nap peacefully in fear that the two youngest kids would get into something they weren't supposed to. I was so focused on making sure the kids were fed and showered, that I didn't even think to feed or shower myself.
I gained so much respect for parents - especially single ones - after this experience.
I also learned that I'm so not ready to be a mom . . . or at least be a mom of four all at once.
Now, why am I bringing this up on a post about my experience as a dog mom? Because, I know that the similarities between raising a dog vs. raising a child are minimal. A dog can't talk back to you, a dog always shows its excitement to see you, and doggy puberty is much more doable than human puberty.
That being said, I feel like I'm getting a second parenting crash course since I've gotten a dog.
So, without further ado, here comes my experience as a dog mom:
This is the first chapter
Everyone, meet Poncho.
I love Poncho.
And Poncho loves me.
(wow I look 14 in this picture)
He's a rescue dog I adopted on Labor Day from a company called Rescue Rovers. We don't know much about his history, but we know he was a stray in Arizona at one point, wound up in a pound in New Mexico somehow, was going to be put to sleep because he was in the pound for so long, adopted out by Rescue Rovers and brought to Utah, was in a foster home in Utah for a month and then was adopted by me.
Also, based on his interactions with men, he was most likely abused by one.
They're not sure his age or his breed, but their best guess is he's 6 and an Australian Kelpie/Cardigan Corgi mix.
He has brought me much joy, entertainment, happiness and love. I am very grateful for him.
Raising Poncho has been a learning curve.
These are stories featuring my greatest . . . uh, I guess you could say, 'learning curve' moments with Poncho.
So, please enjoy.
A different Sunday night
I took Poncho out for his nightly walk before bedtime so that he could pee. Poncho is generally a good walker. However, he also has very specific places in mind where he want's to pee/poop, and he will YANK relentlessly on the leash until you get there. He also rarely pees/poops in the same spot, so you don't really know how long you'll be dragged until he's satisfied.
He had done this during his afternoon walk, so I had let him off his leash and he had done pretty good. He got close to running into the road, but didn't! He had listened to me as I guided him to where he needed to go. So, this time, as he TUGGED on the leash and started trying to run, I finally let him off leash again. I was too tired to run with him, and he runs too fast for me anyway.
Poncho TOOK OFF towards the road.
"Poncho!" I whisper-yelled, trying to be considerate of those asleep in my complex (you can hear basically everything outside).
Poncho stopped and looked over his shoulder at me.
"Come!" I said, smiling and patting my knees.
I swear he smirked at me.
And then he turned and kept running towards the road.
"Poncho!" I continued to whisper-yell, trying not to run too fast after him in fear that he'd think it was a game and keep running. "Poncho, come!"
He got to the road.
And I lost my cool.
"PONCHO! NOOOO!" I screamed.
He ran across the road. And I started running after him.
He took this bizarre route around the main building, and my crappy flats that I wore cause I thought we'd only be outside for a minute got all soggy with mud. Then, he went into a building that's entrance was open.
I sped up, yelling "PONCHO! NO! PONCHO! COME! PONCHO!"
There was a woman standing in her nightgown at the building exit. I heard her gasp as Poncho raced past her.
"Sorry," I said as I sprinted past her.
She gave one of those "it's okay"s where you could tell she so wasn't okay with what was happening, but didn't know what else to say.
"PONCHO!" I yelled.
Once again, he looked over his shoulder at me, and kept running.
Another woman stood at the end of the building, a small puppy in tow. She was pointing at the grass while saying to her puppy, "Pee! Go pee! Pee!"
Poncho stopped and stared at the puppy, doing that cute little head-tilt thing dogs like to do.
That's when I dove.
Like, I literally dove towards him. My knees scraped the ground and everything as I grabbed his collar and yelled, "GOTCHA. YOU LOST YOUR PRIVILEGES, MISTER."
I hooked him to the leash and lugged him back to my apartment while lecturing him the entire time and saying things like, "you come when I call you" and "you do what I tell you to do" and "I'm just trying to keep you safe" and "I'm doing this to protect you" and, the phrase I say to him all the time, "you're embarrassing me."
Because I'm sure he can understand me.
A Monday night
I heard the sound of Poncho's collar jingling and his panting. I pried my incredibly heavy eyelids open and was greeted by his face RIGHT up to mine.
I got a sudden flashback to me as a child, walking into my mom's room and just staring at her until she woke up.
"Whaaaaat," I groaned, and Poncho proceeded to rub his head against my mattress.
I draped my hand over the side, and scratched his head.
I stopped. He whined, and forced his head under my hand again. I then just kinda kept scratching him as he moved his body to where he wanted to be scratched; his back, his chest, his head, his ears, etc.
After what felt like ages, but in reality was probably only three minutes, he returned to his dog bed, and fell back asleep.
Literally all he wanted was attention.
A Tuesday morning
Once again, I woke up to the familiar sound of Poncho's collar jingling and his panting. I opened my eyes to see him sitting nicely right in front of my face.
"Hiiiiiii," I said groggily, and reached out my hand towards him.
He nuzzled right into it and moved around while I scratched him.
But he kept being antsy.
"Do you have to go to the bathroom?" I mumbled, mostly to myself.
And right after I said that, Poncho did his most common and most bizarre "I need to poop" reaction:
He jumped on the windowsill.
"UUUUGGGGHHHHH," I said, getting out of bed.
I put my pants back on, put on the first coat I grabbed from my closet (my heavy, puffy, winter one), the flats that had survived chasing Poncho through the mud, hooked him up to his leash, and waddled outside.
He pee'd a gallons worth of urine as soon as we got to grass, and then began tugging on the leash.
I was in this daze and am pretty sure I had my eyes closed through most of the short walk around my building.
Poncho pooped close to the entrance to my apartment, and I realized I had no bags to pick up his poop with. And I gave the most reasonable response:
I threw my head back and said to the sky, "UUUUGGGHHHHH."
Dragging a now-wide-awake-and-happy pooch, I stomped into my apartment, grabbed a poop bag, and stomped back out. I was still towing Poncho, in case he wasn't done doing his business.
As soon as we reached grass, Poncho stopped and began sniffing and sniffing and sniffing the same area in the grass.
And I legitimately fell asleep standing up.
I couldn't have been out for long. I woke up to Poncho tugging on the least because he was following a scent. But it felt like I was outside/asleep for AGES.
Grumpily, I dragged Poncho to the poop, picked it up, and dragged him back while feeling slightly guilty that I was pulling him away from the scent he so desperately wanted to follow.
We got inside, I took off my pants, coat, and shoes, collapsed on the bed dead asleep. I woke up a couple hours later to Poncho's snoring. I leaned over and saw him curled on his dog bed, sound asleep. And I stared for him for a bit longer cause I just thought he was so darn cute.
Even if he does wake me up in the middle of the night to go poop.
A Monday afternoon
I had gotten off work early and decided to indulge in my favorite hobby: a depression nap!
I grabbed my favorite giant, fluffy, gray blanket and curled up under it on my bed.
Right as I was about to doze off, I felt Poncho's weight land on top of my head.
"GAAAHHH," I groaned into the pillow.
First of all, he's not allowed on my bed.
Second of all, he had just jumped on my head.
But I couldn't stay mad at him for long, because he walked over my head and curled in a tiny ball right next to me.
I put my arm around him, a few minute later we were both sound asleep.
A Wednesday night
It was bedtime. I got dressed in my pajamas and tucked myself into bed.
And Poncho jumped up onto it.
"Hey!" I scolded. "Off!"
Poncho jumped off the bed, then jumped right back on it.
He crawled over to me as I yelled at him and snapped my fingers, telling him to get off the bed.
And then he rested his little head on my chest and stared up at me with those adorable, big, brown, puppy eyes.
"Off! Off! O--aaawwww, you know just how to sucker me in, don't you?" I said.
Yeah, he spent the night on the bed.
The next night
Bedtime, again. And I was exhausted. I had been running around all day, and hadn't gotten home until late. I quickly fed Poncho and let him out, and then collapsed in bed.
Poncho, meanwhile, continued to pace/jog back-and-forth at the foot of the bed. After a few minutes of him doing this, I sat up and yelled, "What do you want?!"
And legitimently right after I said that, he jumped on the bed, circled three times, curled up in a ball, and fell sound asleep.
I was too tired to argue. I flopped back down and fell sound asleep myself.
A Monday night
Okay, I know I'm not the only person on this planet that experiences bizarre, irrational thoughts late at night when they're super tired, right? Cause that's what this story is based on.
So, I was laying in bed, thinking about Poncho. Earlier that evening, Poncho and I met up with some of our neighbors and talked as our dogs played/wrestled with each other. They asked what kind of breed Poncho was and, when I told them, they decided that he was actually a corgi/rottweiler mix.
A lot of people suspect he's part rottweiler, and TBH I'm starting to believe it myself.
So after we got in, I looked up basic breed information about rottweilers and to see if their personality description mirrored Poncho's personality.
The results were inconclusive.
Anyway, there I was, laying in bed. I was nearly asleep and thinking about my dog . . . when the though popped into my head, "A rottweilers general life span is eight to ten years . . . Poncho is six . . . do I only have two more years left with my dog?!"
That thought made my exhausted, irrational little mind spin and I started to cry.
"Poncho!" I called, waking him up from where he slept on his own bed.
He groggily looked up.
"Up! Poncho! Up!"
And he excitedly jumped on the bed.
If I only had two years left with my dog, I wasn't gonna waste an opportunity to snuggle with my dog.
He crawled to my side, and we legitimately spooned all night.
That's my one thing about owning a dog: I hate fur everywhere and vacuum religiously now. That's the main reason he isn't allowed on the bed (but, obviously, sneaks his way into my heart so I allow him to).
So I found myself (and still find myself) both happy that I got to snuggle with my adorable dog that loves me so much, and cursing that there was now fur all over my sheets.
I washed them that night.
A Saturday Afternoon
I met up with some of my friends at a nearby park. We were going to have a picnic and I would introduce them to Poncho.
As soon as we sat down on the blanket, Poncho began tugging on the leash. After a solid 10 minutes of playing a passive-aggressive version of tug-of-war, I finally let Poncho off his leash to roam around the park. After all, the park was massive, and we were pretty far from the street so he shouldn't be in danger, right?
Poncho had trotted right to the road.
"PONCHO." I shouted.
Poncho looked back at me, and came trotting towards me. I breathed a sigh of relief and turned back to my friend . . . when Poncho ran towards the street once again.
I called him again. He promptly looked over my shoulder . . . and started trotting down the middle of the road.
I leaped to my feet and sprinted towards him, realizing just how out of shape I was (and still am). I got close to him, decided it was okay if I started walking . . . and began sprinting again because the excited idiot took off running.
I grabbed him by his collar and dragged him back to the park. I kept holding on and, in a subconscious effort to stay alongside him, continued jogging.
Within a few minutes, I was completely out of breath. I tried to slow down, but Poncho's speed wasn't slowing down at all. So, being close enough to my friend and our lunch station, I let go . . .
and Poncho took advantage of his newfound freedom and sprinted through a hole in the fence and into some random persons back yard.
"Ponchooooooooo," I scowled breathlessly.
I then had to crouch by the hole in the fence and say repeatably, "Poncho! Poncho, come! Poncho, come back here! Poncho."
I don't know what made him come back, but thankfully, he did. And I didn't let go of him until I reached his leash, where I hooked him up and refused to unleash him the rest of the time we were at the park.
He's such a punk.
I love him.
Okay, so the last story is easily the best story and the worst experience, and it's pretty long, so I wrote it in a separate blog post. To read it, click HERE. Or scroll up. I don't care. Just do it.