I don’t know if I’m prepared for motherhood. In fact, I think it’s safe to say I’m fairly freaked out. It’s been thirteen years since I’ve had a wee one romping around the house and let me tell you, it’s a whole new world in the realm of puppy parenting.
My first indication of unpreparedness came when I visited PetSmart for the first time in a decade. I walked into the fluorescent lit store, the white tiles stained yellow from those pups that came before me, and went in search of dog food. It was insane – three thousand square feet of choice. Never before had I seen so many varieties, sizes, and flavors of pup food: organic, all natural, made with real chicken, real beef, real liver, hormone-free, gluten-free. I was overwhelmed. I don’t have this many options when I go to my local grocer looking for a frozen pizza or a bag of lettuce. What would I buy? Things had definitely changed from the days when I went in to a pet store and had the one choice of Purina Puppy Chow. Four hundred dollars later I left the store with “all-natural” kibble, organic pet treats, gluten free chews, and toys made out of “safe plastic”, whatever that is. I had no idea what I was doing or what I was buying.
My ineptitude is also apparent in my constant worrying. Is he getting enough play time, is he bored, is he socializing enough – with people, with other dogs? Is his water bowl slimy? I even fret over whether he’s smart enough. He’s already learned to use his potty pads 99.9% of the time, to sit, to lay, and to leave it. But just when I think he might possibly be the most brilliant pup in the land he tries to hide his bones. It’s my belief that he loves these bones the way that I love buttery mashed potatoes heaped with creamy gravy. Every night at dinner time, as I set my plate on the table, I tell him to sit and I place an all-natural bacon chew at his feet. He immediately picks it up and runs. The first time he hid it in his crate underneath the wooly pad. “Pretty good, pretty good,” I said, beaming with pride as I found it. However, finding it was a mistake and he’s never hidden it there again. It was the next time that concerned me as he dug at the corner of the carpet and deftly hid the bone in the hallway where a blind man could see it.
Like most mothers my calendar is filling up quickly as well. We have haircuts, Revolution days, shot appointments, and play dates. While I don’t own a minivan it seems I’ve become a Kennel Mom. When I’m not in my Beetle hauling my best friend to his various “activities” I’m spending countless hours researching doggie day cares with dog cams and doggie spas with pet-icures. I’m anguishing over photographs of different Yorkie haircuts trying to decide what kind of son I have. Is he the loveable “puppy cut” kind of dog or he is the “traditional cut” Yale boy with flowing hair, sweaters, and a manly bow? In my research I’ve discovered that there are things that can kill your pup. Along with the more well-known culprits such as chocolate, avocado, garlic, onion, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts, there are the things you think are safe bets like Greenies or Bully Sticks, but when left with your dog unsupervised, can actually kill them. It’s not the products themselves that hurt your dog, I learned from my new friend Lawrence, (more on him later) but leaving them unsupervised and allowing them to swallow big hunks of said treats. The list goes on and the fear increases.
And like all parents at some point in their new role I have had a meltdown. It happened the other day when I visited Trader Joes and purchased an all natural chew stick as I was grabbing myself some groceries. I didn’t want my boy to feel left out as I stuffed my cart with precooked turkey, enchiladas, and various other forms of snacky goodness. I got home with my recyclable bag full of food and pulled out his bone. Though the front of the package had said “all-natural” I wanted to be doubly sure and turned over the tag to look at the ingredients. It simply read, “Steer Pizzle.”
“Steer Pizzle,” I repeated out loud. “Hmmm… what is that? Is that like bull piss? Is that like bovine urine?”
I wasn’t sure but I grabbed a paper towel, just in case, picked it up, and placed it on the ground for So-kr8z’ puppy chewing pleasure. A few hours later, after talking with my friend Lucas, I discovered the truth about this curious ingredient. Steer Pizzle = Steer Penis. That’s right, my adorable little baby bundle of puppy has been chewing on a penis. What’s worse is that when my sweet, innocent pup chews on things he really likes to be near me. For example, he will place his bone, or whatever it is he’s currently gnawing, on my feet or in my lap and proceed to exercise his jaws for hours. Just so we’re on the same page and you understand my full horror, So-kr8z had not only been chewing on a penis but he had been chewing on a penis which was lying across my feet, my belly, my hand. Hence, I was covered in bull penis germs. After a long, hot shower with a heavy-duty loofah, I walked to the kitchen, tore a paper towel off the roller, wrapped it in cellophane and grabbed the offensive chew treat and threw it away.
I’m adjusting slowly. I’m no longer so crabby in the morning when I’m yanked out of my slumber by two furry paws on my forehead and sharp tiny teeth caught in my hair. I’ve accepted that I don’t get my cup of coffee before I play with So-kr8z and Elvis the Rubber Chicken. However, I do have some advice, a little nugget I gleaned after my first few hectic months. Every new Mom or Dad needs a few fellow parent friends; ones who are more knowledgeable, ones who have been there and have lost the look of terror that comes with being a new parent. I found mine in Lawrence and Kevin from Pet-Tique. I’m no longer roaming the dirty aisles of PetSmart wondering, although it says all-natural, if it was actually made in China. I’ve found my place, my support team, in these two men who actually know what’s good for my little guy and what isn’t. They’ve turned me on to healthy puppy treats such as Elk Tendon and Deer Antlers, which are not only kind to the environment and the animals they come from, but are good for So-kr8z as well. (Though I have to admit my apartment is now a veritable Animal Farm meets *Silence of the Lambs* with all of the Elk, Deer, Steer, and Pig parts littering my floor.) It also doesn’t hurt that So-kr8z gets play time in their immaculate store with their three adorable pugs and is made to feel like “King for the Day” every time we go in there. I guess to be a parent these days one must have a few parent friends and carry a big heart, a strong nerve, and a dictionary; along with a large quantity of anti-bacterial wipes.