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The Art Of... Puppy Parenting 

click to enlarge MEREDITH COEYMAN
  • meredith COEYMAN

The day we got the puppy is a blur. When I awoke that morning, I had no idea that by evening I would own something that might poop in my shoe. Nor did I foresee that at 3 a.m. the next day I would be sitting on my bedroom floor with a tiny pup in my lap wondering what I had actually done.

This story is not packed with solid puppy-rearing advice. But it is an honest account of a day in the life of a super softhearted, usually responsible person who made a somewhat rash decision — and now must raise a puppy.

6:45 a.m. High-pitched yipping. Puppy must exit crate immediately. Half asleep, I stumble over and release a wild creature determined to climb up my body and lick off my face. Beg puppy to hold her pee. Make it to front lawn. Inside to feed puppy. Beg children to ignore puppy and get ready for school. Remove shoe from puppy's mouth, put it on child's foot. Put puppy in pen, where she barks like we're running a puppy mill in our sunroom. Race to school.

8:29 a.m. At dog park — without coffee. Nobody there, so let puppy try big-dog section. Dogs arrive and play with her, i.e., roll her like a barrel while she yips for dear life. I carry her to empty small-dog section. She lies in the sun. We could do this in my backyard — with coffee. Puppy friend arrives! They wrestle and bite each other's faces. I feel the sun on my arms and realize that I totally made the right call getting a puppy.

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10:06 a.m. Time for a "walk." Exit front door with leash in same hand as coffee cup. Puppy bolts, coffee explodes. Puppy expels a poop that includes a coffee bean. I'm surprised it's not a Lego. Puppy chases a leaf. And eats a mosquito. And sniffs every single blade of grass. I confess to puppy that I'm not really a dog person. She seems OK with it. Puppy is suddenly terrified by a lawn mower. Trainer said to normalize scary by acting cheerful. I blurt: "Lawn mowers are AWESOME!" in a too-loud voice and force a demented chuckle. Puppy turns feral, attempts to chew off leash. This means she's tired, so we sit down on someone's lawn. Relax. Really, this puppy is adorable! Just look at her, grooming herself, licking ... her bum. Then my eye. I curse.

10:45 a.m. Open laptop and begin working. Remember advice: "Puppy follows your schedule, not the other way around." Puppy whines at door, starts chewing a book. Bring her out to pee, then she rolls on a dead worm. Back to work. Shove peanut butter into chew toy to buy seven minutes of peace. Wrangle permanent marker from puppy. Car alarm: puppy barks. Phone rings: puppy barks. Despite trainer explaining that words mean nothing to dogs, I implore her to stop. She holds eye contact, so I'm pretty sure the trainer is wrong about this particular puppy. A stranger suggested that I shake a plastic bottle filled with pennies at her to get her to stop barking. Puppy watches, perplexed, as I fill a bottle with pennies.

2:33 p.m. Plop puppy into her spa/pen: ice water, chew stick, peanut butter toy, plush bed. Puppy barks. I shake bottle of pennies at her. She cocks her head to the side and barks louder. Leave to pick up kids.

3:18 p.m. Kid 1 storms through the door, lets the dog out of the pen, lays down on the floor while hyper puppy scratches her face. Kid laughs, then cries. I ask her to take the puppy outside to pee. She does, but gets distracted by a bug and drops the leash. I run outside and grab it before puppy bolts into road.

3:44 p.m. Back inside, kid 2 lays with puppy and strokes her ears. Kid whispers in puppy's ear: "I still can't believe we have a puppy ... the cutest puppy in the whole world."

4:34 p.m. Making dinner. Use cut-up hotdog to get puppy to drop son's Lego creation. Must finish dinner. Put puppy in crate, where she falls asleep. Kids decide it's time to wake puppy up in the middle of dinner. Ask if they can feed her chicken. Ask if they can feed her carrots. Leave table to find list of foods deadly to puppies. Dinner gets cold.

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6:49 p.m. Evening walk during which puppy wants to run. I decide it's time to pick up jogging again and so We're doing this! I'm one of those "jogging with my dog" people! Puppy zigzags, leash instantly wraps around my legs, I narrowly escape a sidewalk face plant. Would kids be scarred if we returned puppy?

7:48 p.m. Puppy bolts upstairs, pauses in doorway of kid 1's room like she's spotted the chocolate waterfall in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Puppy is about to destroy all the things. Put puppy in crate so kids can brush teeth, put on pajamas, argue, set up an obstacle course and read a book. Kids in beds, puppy out of crate to pee. Kid 1 kisses puppy goodnight. Puppy jumps into kid 2's bed, digs at the covers, then collapses at his feet. With puppy, kid 2 can finally fall asleep without a parent in the room.

11:00 p.m. Wake puppy up to pee. Carry her down the stairs while she yawns, squeaks and licks my face in a way I don't mind. Decide this puppy can stay another day.


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