In 2006, I had landed my first job (with a salary!) out of college, and I thought, "It's time for me to take the next step into adulthood. I will get a dog." Here is a little glimpse into the weird workings of my mind, though: in preparation to get a dog, I didn't research breeds or bone up (heh) on house training I didn't research rescues or trainers. Instead, I made a spreadsheet. I made a spreadsheet to estimate the cost of having a dog to see if I would actually be able to pay for its food, vet bills, potential boarding costs, etc. A spreadsheet. You can see my nurturing instinct kicking in already. Anyway, I looked for dogs for a month or two, visiting a few at the vet school, a couple of rescues, none of which were a good fit for me. And then, I heard that my aunt had bred a litter of Bichon Frises and that there was one female puppy. When I called, my aunt was so enthusiastic about me taking her that JT and I drove down the next weekend to pick her up. She was my 23rd birthday present to myself.
|Gert on the night I brought her home.|
She looks like a baby seal.
I named her Gert because my aunt and I called each other Gert, and the name wound up being a perfect fit. She was six weeks old when I brought her home, and she was cute! and snuggly! and cute! SO CUTE!
I'm not saying Gert was a bad puppy. But Gert was a stubborn puppy and was only six weeks old. You can only do so much in the realm of crate-training at six weeks old. So, suddenly, I had a little poo and pee machine running around my apartment, chewing on everything, keeping me up at night. I bought a puppy book and pored over it, trying to implement everything as best I could. Only none of it seemed to be working. She pooped, she peed, she didn't go to sleep at the right time, she cried all night, she wouldn't eat when I put out food for her, she destroyed everything. And what did I do? I cried. I cried every. single. day. for the first month that I had her. My poor mother fielded weepy phone calls from me, lamenting my whole life and my whole decision to get a dog. When she would try to console me, I would just wail, "But the book says!" Eventually, and sagely, she told me to throw out the book.
|Gert with her valedictorian prize. |
And a horrible haircut.
But, not to make things too easy, Gert began to display some warning signs of food allergies. I would come home over lunch hour to walk her and find her bloody from scratching herself. She would develop hives around her eyes and mouth, and I would have to shove liquid Benadryl down her throat. It was frustrating, heart-breaking, and completely exhausting for me. And, of course, within a month, we had her on a food that didn't make her want to die.
When Gert turned a year old, I cannot tell you the sense of pride I had in the fact that I had succeeded in keeping her alive. It sounds silly, I know, but that year was full of all the worry, fear, and love that comes along with caring for another living being. For the first time, I knew I was solely in charge of this little creature, and I wanted to do everything in my power to make her life a good one. And in the process, she became my best friend.
In the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I tried to spend lots of snuggle time with Gert, knowing that my snuggles would mostly be for my new daughter for a while. And I just kept thinking about how glad I am that my daughter will grow up with a friend like Gert. Already, Gert won't leave her alone: she has to follow me into every room I go with Jo. She stands guard while Jo is being fed, laying at my feet until she's done. She immediately looks for Jo first thing in the morning. Jo is Gert's favorite thing.
...and now I'd better go give Gert a treat.