If you are an overwhelmed homeschooling mother of 6 the best thing to do is to get a puppy.
Yeah, if you asked me 6 weeks ago if I wanted a dog, I would have answered, "Absolutely not. I don't want the extra work of cleaning up the yard or floors after a dog. I don't want to have to worry about being home to take the dog out. I don't want the extra expense of feeding a dog and paying the vet bills. Apple Blossom is terribly frightened by dogs. No, we do not need or want a dog."
I did not want a puppy. Housebreaking is messy and puppies chew things up. I did not want an older dog from the pound because you never know how that dog was treated or why they were given up. I did not want to risk my kids being bitten because a dog has a negative reaction to bananas or some such thing.
Needless to say we went to visit family in New York with no intention of bringing home a dog. Yes, I thought my cousin Martina's new puppy, Roxie, was absolutely adorable. That does not mean I wanted one. She is a professional photographer, of course the photos of her pup are amazing. Then Martina mentioned that Roxie's brothers were available and a switch flipped. Suddenly I did want a puppy.
Maybe want is not the right word. I did not long for a puppy, but getting one seemed like a good idea, or at least possible. I guess I was just ready. Hubby and I discussed the pros and cons. Poodles are hypoallergenic and non-shedding. As his dad is a toy poodle and his mom is a miniature poodle, this puppy should end up being small enough to not knock people over, but not so small as to be too delicate to survive in my family. By all accounts, Roxie arrived pretty much housebroken and with very few problems. Polar Bear and Cookie Monster are old enough to help quite a bit with a dog. Strawberry and Dinosaur can help at least a little. Ducky is sturdy enough that we were not concerned the puppy could really hurt her. Apple Blossom was the only concern we had. Would a puppy cure her of her fears, or would it exacerbate things?
Hubby and I prayed over the decision. We felt that we would know when we met the puppy whether we should bring him home or not. So, that is what we did. Our concerns about Apple Blossom turned out to be needless. When the owner took the strawberry blonde poodle pup out of his travel kennel, she was the first one there to pet him. There was no hesitation, no fear, just love. He licked her face and she was just fine with that. Of course we had to take him home with us!
My initial inclination was to name him Puck. He looks like a Puck. However, small children constantly saying, "Puck" and yelling, "Oh, Puck!" seemed like a bad idea. My kiddos are mostly great with their plosives (usually too great,) but this would be the one time they were not. We went with the safer option. His name is Oberon. Yes, that is the king of the fairies from A Midsummer Night's Dream. I think he can handle it.
Obie has had a few accidents, but he has learned he has to go to the door and he is starting to make a little lot of noise if he wants to go out. He figured out that Hubby and I will not allow him to nip at us, so he doesn't. He comes when he's called and learned his name quickly. We are now working on getting him to sit and stay. I don't think training him is going to be difficult.
Polar Bear is willing to walk Obie, feed him and cuddle with him. He is less willing to play with him. It's just not his thing. Cookie Monster, on the other hand, loves walking and playing with Obie. He also does not mind picking up doggy deposits, but doesn't think to check the dog's food or water. Strawberry does not like playing with Obie because he nips, but she is so compassionate toward him. If someone steps on his paw, she runs to make sure he is OK and she loves stroking his soft belly. Dinosaur wants to play with Obie. He wants to scoop the puppy up and haul him around. We explained that it hurts Obie and so he is doing it less. Dinosaur also enjoys feeding Obie and is diligent to make sure the water bowl is clean and filled.
Ducky and Obie have a special relationship. When Ducky has eaten most of her breakfast, she starts feeding Obie. I will glance up from my newspaper and see that she is holding her hand out and Obie is licking a Cheerio from it. Then, she picks up another Cheerio or two and stuffs them in her own mouth. I think that's gross, but I also read an article that said dog mouths are cleaner than human mouths, so I am not going to fret too much. Ducky now pats her little legs and tries to call Obie to her and that is too cute.
Apple Blossom is still scared of dogs, but she assures everyone that she is not scared of her puppy. She does not like when he jumps or nips, but of course we are working on breaking him of those habits. Apple Blossom loves to have a hand on Obie's leash when we walk.
Having a puppy in our home has turned out to be what Hubby calls a "forcing function." Our kids know Obie will pick up whatever toys they leave out. Hubby and I have become more diligent about keeping things tidier too. There are no longer Cheerios all over the floor anywhere in my house. Over all, the idea of adding a puppy to our already busy house was crazy. It really was not a practical idea. We knew we were taking a risk, but we thought it might just work out and it really has. Sometimes the crazy ideas turn out to be exactly what you needed all along.