Yesterday, my favorite ball of fluff ripped a huge hole in my shorts while trying to get my attention. And for a few minutes there, he was no longer my favorite ball of fluff.
I’m ashamed to say that I may have…overreacted…to this brief moment of puppy insanity. I plopped him in his crate, then raced upstairs, burst into my fiancés office, and began crying that our dog was picking on me. “Look what he did!!” I sobbed, pointing frantically at the new golf-ball sized hole in my shorts. “He hates meeeee.”
Then I sat on the floor, furrowed my brows, and shot angry thoughts in Copernicus’ direction. The dog was clearly being a terror on purpose. Didn’t he know that this behavior would not be tolerated? Couldn’t he understand that I only own ONE pair of shorts, because I HATE buying shorts, and now he had gone and RUINED THEM? Was he trying to prove a point, that he didn’t have to listen to us if he didn’t want to? That he hated it here and was planning to run off and join as gang just as soon as he could escape?! I seethed.
Taking a step back
After a few hugs and some much needed chocolate, I was able to calm down just enough to realize that my 13-week old puppy probably didn’t have plans to run off and join a gang. And that maybe, just maybe, he was being a normal, excitable, mouthy puppy. And that maybe, possibly, his excess of energy had something to do with the fact that I hadn’t had time to take him on his typical long afternoon walk. And that perhaps this was just all part of raising a dog.
Getting Even Getting somewhere
I’m starting to understand that raising a puppy means that I need to change my relationship with chaos and unpredictability. And that if I want to get through puppyhood with my sanity intact, it’s time to broaden my perspective and ask the right questions instead of just reacting to incidents as they occur.
I need to understand what he understands. To remember that his world breaks down into attention, energy, food, exercise, and love, while mine involves more complex concepts like appreciation, hurt feelings, expensive couches, and singular pairs of shorts. I can’t waste my energy wishing he understood my world. I need to understand his.
I need to look for the real problem. It’s so easy to see the problem right in front of you (shredded shorts) instead of the real problem (didn’t have time for exercise.) And it’s so easy to place the blame on the obvious culprit (the dog who shredded the shorts) instead of the real culprit (me, and my ability to manage my time). But the good news is that, while I can’t control everything my dog does, I can control myself and my schedule.
And I need to ask what I can do to make it better. Simple as that.
Raising a dog is so much more than I thought it would be. More joyous, more stressful, more wonderful, more difficult, more fulfilling. And I’m getting more opportunities to grow than I ever thought possible.