Perhaps my wife and I could have used the sage Jedi wisdom Luke Skywalker delivered to Emperor Palpatine in a PetSmart parking lot a few weeks ago.
“Your overconfidence is your weakness,” Skywalker tells the wizened Sith lord in the throne room on the second Death Star. It seems we suffer from the same fatal flaw.
Which, to make a long story short, is how we ended up in a still-unpacked house with two new, high-energy dogs.
Looking back on it, adopting a pair of year-old herding dogs and bringing them into a house still cluttered with moving boxes probably doesn’t make sense. It sure felt good at the time though!
After weeks of pouring over dog profiles on the Rescue Rovers Facebook page, my wife and I were excited to finally meet some of the dogs. We agreed to meet one of the foster moms at the PetSmart in West Jordan to look at a few of the potential pups.
It’s even more apparent in hindsight that we were getting played like a fiddle by the (completely well-intentioned) foster mom. We were introduced to Whistler, a petite catahoula mix, and 9mm, a heeler mix and Tooele County native, at the same time — you know, sort of a package deal.
After being dog-starved for so long, we were beside ourselves with these two gorgeous dogs that weren’t quite a year old yet. They played together, were acceptable on lead and came potty-trained and house-trained.
I even told my wife we were getting suckered into adopting two dogs, but we’d discussed it before. They’d have a playmate and companionship! Everything just made perfect sense.
Needless to say, we ponied up the adoption fee and took our two new wriggling bundles of joy into PetSmart to buy literally all of the things needed to keep not one, but two, dogs. Aside from a small accident from Whistler, they were well behaved and polite to people and pets in the store.
The whole car ride home, I got to snuggle in the back seat with the new pups and I was ecstatic. Once unleashed upon the new house, they were curious but didn’t attempt to destroy any of our things. What luck, we thought to ourselves.
Fast forward to the present day, only a couple weeks later, and the house is still not unpacked. The in-laws are coming from New York next Wednesday for Thanksgiving dinner and we don’t even having a dining room table yet.
Whistler got diagnosed with giardia only a week into having them, likely from something she ate (likely gross) while under our watch or before.
The dogs, billed as good buddies, alternate between peaceful co-existence and sibling-style squabbles over attention, toys and beds. The fence on the north side of the yard still isn’t finished and the fence contractor hasn’t returned our last couple calls.
Suffice to say, my wife and I are sort of floundering along right now. We always joked about having a dog as a test before parenthood; the projected timeline for kids has been moved to suspended indefinitely pending review.
It has been a messy, bumpy ride since we took ownership of our first home and our first dogs. It’s also been a chance for us to finally break out of the settled routine of it being just the two of us and it has been a fascinating challenge.
Don’t get the wrong idea, however, that we have any major regrets despite the underlying stress in our lives. Nine, as we call 9mm now, was slated to be euthanized after he was left at a shelter and I can’t imagine that happening to our poorly-mannered but lovable pooch.
We have a long road ahead of us to get Whistler and Nine into the sweet dogs lurking underneath their damaged exteriors. Nine’s response to certain noises and hand movements suggest he might have been treated poorly at previous stops in his life; Whistler’s violent barking and growling at bicyclists suggests a similarly dark past experience.
Taking the dogs for long walks has been good for me and them; we all need the opportunity to stretch our legs and hopefully clear our minds. We’ve seen so much of the new neighborhood as a result, which has been good for all involved.
It’s nice to come home and flop down on the floor and have a friendly face excited to see you. All the trouble of getting them trained feels worth it when they come over and lay down at your side to be petted.
So things are crazy right now in the Howe household but as they begin to calm, I’m excited to settle into a new kind of normal with our two pups.