The Puppy and the Preschooler



Just when I was beginning to get my life sorted out, I went and messed it up again… I got a puppy. To go along with the 4-year-old who already wrecks my house.

The Backstory

My old dog Paige passed away last September from lymphoma. She was 10 years old, and had been “my girl” since she was 3. She had always been the perfect dog, well mannered and low-key. When I adopted her, I felt strongly that I should adopt an older dog because they don’t find homes as quickly as puppies tend to. So that’s what I set out to do when it was time to add a new furry friend to the family.

I tried to fall in love with other dogs, really. I went to the Indy Mega Adoption event, I went to Indianapolis Animal Care and Control. I didn’t fall in love with any of the dogs I met, not the way it was when I met Paigey Pie, and that was the emotion I was after to tell me, “This is our new dog.”

Not Love at First Sight

The Monday after Thanksgiving last year, I got back into town from a weekend away and went to my Mom’s to pick up my preschooler. Surprise, the neighbor’s dog had surprise puppies! Well, better go check them out.

I met the puppies on my own the first time. Four little Jack Russell mutt mixes, all brand new and sleepy. Told the neighbor how I’d been looking for a new dog recently, and that I’d think about the puppies. I didn’t really want a puppy.

A few days later, my son and I were back at Mom’s and decided to go visit the puppies. There we are, snuggling dogs, and it just comes out of my mouth before I can really think about what I’m saying, “Do you want one of these puppies to come live with us?” Uh oh, now it’s too late…. He said yes.

For the next six weeks, my son and I talked about how the puppy he picked would come live with us after it was old enough to leave his momma. The reality of being a new puppy parent did not set in until my mom called saying, “The puppies are ready to come home!”

Dang it, now it’s real.

My Life Now

Pebbles has been living with us for over two months now. Pebbles is a Jack Russell mix, and a puppy, so he is a stark contrast from two old, lazy lab mixes. Pebbles, I might add, is also the kind of name you get when you give a 4-year-old naming rights over a living being.

We’ve certainly had some growing pains. For my preschooler, frustration lies in the jumping and nipping, the toy stealing and chewing. For me, it’s also the puppy bites, but more so the fact that now I must clean my floors on a daily basis.

My son doesn’t quite understand why Pebbles isn’t as well behaved as our old dogs. Daily, I’m explaining that Pebbles is like a baby dog – he is learning to be a good dog and it’s our job to teach him how, just like my son learns things as he’s growing.

For the most part, things are getting better. The dog is mellowing out, especially when it’s just he and I at home. When my son is around, Pebbles wants to play, and the boy wants his space. My son is learning that it’s ok to ask for alone time away from the puppy, though I’m also working hard to reinforce that no, the dog cannot spend all day in his crate just because he’s sitting near you and you don’t like that.  

Puppy Lessons

  • Remember that puppies are a lot of work, no matter how cute they are.
  • Don’t compare the new dog to your old dogs and expect success.
  • Everyone in the family will learn to cope with puppiness in their own way.
  • Hire a dog trainer, stat.
  • Triple your monthly paper towel budget.
  • A puppy will break your dog-loving spirit if you let it.
  • Give yourself time to fall in love.
  • Refrain from referring to the new puppy as “the 15-year mistake”.