If you read my story, “Fall Softly”, then you should know that I had a near death experience right before Christmas. Had it not been for my remembering the words of wisdom from my dad, I probably would be dead right now. Luckily, I survived the accident with only a few bruises and a mild concussion. Now, I don’t know if the concussion had anything to do with my judgment the day I told LP what I wanted for Christmas or not. We were talking about Christmas, and I know I am hard to buy for because I really don’t want anything. Well, a million bucks; a trip to Paris and maybe a job as a journalist writing my own column for the New York Times, but other than that, I couldn’t think of one thing I wanted. So, while we were talking, I thought for a couple of minutes and I looked at LP and I said, “I want a puppy.” LP and others had been mentioning me getting a dog after my Hugs passed away, but I kept insisting that I wasn’t ready for another dog. However, I had been “dogless” for seven months, and for some odd reason, on that particular day I decided that the time was right.
LP got on the internet and found a few places that had puppies for sell. There were several types of puppies to choose from. I could have had a Yorkie, a Chihuahua, an Australian Shepherd, a Bulldog, a Beagle, a Dachshund, a Poodle, a Labrador Retriever, a Schnauzer, a German Shepard, or a Golden Retriever. My sister had a Chihuahua, and although the dog was cute, it barked all the time and I don’t like that. Dad had two Poodles and they were yappier than the Chihuahua. My brother has Yorkies, and they bark a lot too. My last two dogs were Labrador Retrievers, so I didn’t want another Lab because no other dog could replace either one of them. So I decided that I wanted a Golden Retriever. That day we drove seventy miles, in the snow to pick out my Christmas present. There were three puppies left to choose from, and, I don’t know why, but I chose the most active puppy. The lady selling the pups said they called the one I pick out “Feisty” because she likes to play all the time. I smiled and said, “The feistier, the better. It just proves she has spunk and personality.”
We had a week before we could take the puppy home with us because she had to get her six week shots. So, while we waited to get the puppy, we prepared our home for our new Golden Retriever. Since she was so young, we decided to keep her in the house until she got bigger and until it got warmer outside. We have a large fenced in backyard and two dog houses, so when she got older and the weather got warmer, we figured she could stay outside most of the time and only come when we were home and at night to sleep. We ordered a large crate from a company we found on the internet. Then we went to the store and picked up toys, a collar, a leash, puppy treats and puppy food. Then we waited and waited. I didn’t think the week would ever pass by. Then finally, on Christmas Eve, we went to get my puppy. On the way home with her, we decided to name her Rileah because she was so riled up. I call her “My Rileah Girl”, and she is the cutest puppy I believe I have ever seen. Although she is very smart, she is also very hardheaded. LP says she’s just like me.
Anyway, it had been a very long time since I have had a puppy. Both of my Labs had lived to be thirteen years old, so my puppy memories had faded over the years. It didn’t take me too long to remember what it’s like to have a puppy around the house. A puppy likes to bite, chew, jump, and drag everything they possibly can to a central location that is usually right under your feet. I don’t know how my times I have stepped on one of her squeaky toys thinking I had stepped on one of the cats’ tails making them squeal. After four weeks of doing this, you would think I would know it’s a toy I am stepping on, not a cat, but I still jump every time.
It only took two days of living with Rileah until I figured out that I needed to “Rileah proof” the house. I took up all the rugs on the floor, moved furniture around to hide electrical cords, moved my plants, moved our pictures, moved the computer tower, tucked the skirt hanging from my grandma’s rocking chair under the cushion – you name it, I have moved it, I have hidden it or I have completely disposed of it. One tip for anyone getting a puppy – never leave shoes in a puppy’s reach; nor coats, nor toes, nor feet, nor fingers or arms. I have said, “No!” some many times during the past four weeks, I wake myself up during a deep sleep saying, “No!”
Another thing I had forgotten about having a puppy is the fact that they have to “do their business” quite often. If you don’t know what that means, I will be very blunt. Puppies had to pee and poop a lot, and they have to do it all day and all night. Just about every two hours, the puppy needs to go outside. And “outside” during this time of the year is not pleasant. For the first two weeks of having Rileah, the temperature outside was in the teens during the daytime and in the single digits at night. But, fortunately for me, Rileah will pee just as soon as she puts her little paws on the snow or on the grass. However, pooping is a different story. I don’t know about other puppies, but it takes Rileah at least fifteen minutes to find the perfect spot to poop. And people say, “Puppies have accidents.” when a puppy poops on the floor. I don’t believe it’s an accident. Have you ever watched a puppy try to find a place to poop. It doesn’t look like an accident to me; it looks very strategic and intentional.
Anyway, for the first two weeks, Rileahs “bathroom” schedule went something like this:
1:00 a.m. outside
3:30 a.m. outside
6:00 a.m. outside
7:30 a.m. outside
8:30 a.m. outside
11:30 a.m. outside
1:30 p.m. outside
3:30 p.m. outside
5:30 p.m. outside
7:00 p.m. outside
9:00 p.m. outside
11:30 p.m. outside
Believe me, I am not exaggerating; you can ask LP. One morning at 3:30, I took Rileah outside and it was freezing cold. I had on my pajamas, my house shoes and a hooded jacket and Rileah kept walking around trying to find that perfect place. I kept saying, “Come on Rileah! Hurry up; it’s cold out here.” Rileah was sniffing and sniffing and just when I thought she found her perfect spot, she walked off and went over to the side of the house. Finally, she found a good spot and took care of her business. I said, “Good girl! That’s a good Rileah Girl!” Then I tugged on the leash and headed back toward the door and she stopped again. Believe it or not, she had “to go” again. I said, “Come on Rileah. It’s 3:30 in the morning; I’m freezing, and I’m out here in my pjs and this hood over my head, people are going to think I’m a burglar. Hurry up!!!” Just as Rileah got finished, my neighbor’s light came on and I tugged on Rileah’s leash and said, “Run!” We ran back into the house and without stopping, I put Rileah in her crate and I went back to bed. I laid in bed a few minutes thinking about Rileah, smiling as I went back to sleep.
I didn’t get much sleep those first two weeks, but, fortunately, Rileah can “hold it” about six hours now. LP and I were talking about Rileah the other night and I said, “It’s the oddest thing that when she goes, she always poops twice. She’ll do it once and then walk about three or four feet away and do it again.” LP said, “Yes, I’ve noticed that too.” Then we started bragging about how quickly she has learned to “go” outside and that she has learned to sit and to lay down. And so far, she has only had an “accident” in the house once.
It was the night I was baking Quiche. To me, Quiche stinks when it’s baking, so I just assumed the unpleasant odor was coming from the oven. I was standing at the kitchen sink and the smell got stronger. I thought, “Damn. That Quiche stinks more than I can remember.” I turned to walk over to the oven and I noticed something about an inch from my left foot. Yep, it was a pile of poop. I looked at Rileah and said, “Rilieah! I just let you back in! You’re supposed to poop outside!” Then I as turned to grab the paper towels and the Windex, I saw another pile of poop at my right foot. I said, “Rileah – outside!” I let Rileah out and I came back into the kitchen to literally clean up the mess. As I was scooping up those two piles of poop, I shook my head and thought, “Once is never enough for my Rileah Girl!” 😛