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Published May 07, 2012, 11:30 PM

Briggs: Puppy is like having a newborn again

I’ve never been a dog lover. I realize that makes me darn near un-American. Like someone who doesn’t like baseball, apple pie or Betty White (all things I do like). It’s not like I have anything against dogs. I’ve just never really gotten the point.

By: Tracy Briggs, INFORUM

I’ve never been a dog lover. I realize that makes me darn near un-American. Like someone who doesn’t like baseball, apple pie or Betty White (all things I do like). It’s not like I have anything against dogs. I’ve just never really gotten the point.

I never really thought the love and companionship received from a pooch was worth the expense and commitment: taking him outside at 5 a.m. to do his business while you’re left holding the leash in one hand and a plastic grocery bag in the other, spending thousands on veterinary bills or figuring out what to do with him when you go on vacation.

Unfortunately, I’ve been overruled.

After about three years of begging, I finally succumbed to my daughters’ repeated requests for a puppy. I’ve been standing my ground since the girls could form the sentence, “Can we get a puppy, pweaze????” My reasons for saying “no” progressed from matter of fact to grasping at straws.

“No, we can’t have a dog. I don’t like dogs.”

“I think I might be allergic to dogs.”

“Don’t you think our fish will get jealous?”

My excuses could not hold up to the onslaught from the girls and eventually my dog-loving husband. He grew up with dogs on the farm in Iowa. The old home movies show seemingly happy dogs putting up with my toddler husband trying to ride them instead of his Big Wheel.

Our reasons for getting the dog are too complicated to get into here, but suffice it to say I came to the conclusion that I had to take one for the team.

After some research, we settled upon a 2-month-old golden retriever-lab mix. She looks a lot like the dog on the Cottonelle toilet paper package. So maybe I was just inspired by a trip to the bathroom. Either way, she might be the cutest puppy I’ve ever seen. It’s a good thing, because she’s getting on my nerves.

It’s newborn baby time all over again at our house, but at least my kids didn’t pee on the floor, chew on my clothes or bark at 2 in the morning.

Fortunately, my wonderful husband is the one getting up with the dog in the middle of the night since I took most of the night shifts with our babies all those years ago. (Either that or he’s trying to ease his guilt for that dog-riding stuff back in the ’70s). I feel kind of bad though. Getting up with a baby meant snuggling on the couch watching “Roseanne” reruns on TV Land, not going in the dark backyard waiting for doggy poops.

We turn to books for help. But their advice sometimes reminds me of those rigid and ridiculous pregnancy and parenting books I read all those years ago. You know the kind. They’d tell you, “For a nice sweet treat after a meal consider a bowl of fruit with a small dollop of whipped cream.”

Shut up. Where’s my Brownie Earthquake? That book was obviously not written by a woman who’s ever had a baby.

The puppy advice books aren’t much better.

For example, one book tells me I shouldn’t correct my puppy while she’s in the middle of doing something wrong because it will damage our relationship. Instead I need to correct her while she’s still thinking of doing something wrong. OK. Thanks. That makes so much sense. I’ll look into my little puppy crystal ball and go from there.

So when the dog started clawing at my favorite sweater the other day I shouldn’t have said, “Get your paws off my sweater. You know how much that cost?” Probably ineffective, huh?

I know I’m making a ton of mistakes as a new puppy mom. But I felt the same way when I was a new baby mom. And I think my daughters are turning out pretty awesome. So we’ll muddle through this puppy adventure together. The girls seem to love her; I think she’s a pretty sweet, smart dog, and she seems happy with us too. I wouldn’t say I’m a dog lover quite yet, but their appeal is a little more obvious to me.

Years from now, will I come to find the commitment has been worth it? I guess that remains to be seen. But at least for now the fish isn’t jealous.

Tracy Briggs is a mother of two and is an employee of Forum Communications Co.

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