Exploring Dominance at Three in the Morning, or Sleepless Is the House with Two Puppies

Right now, I’m feeling a special kind of crazy, the kind of crazy that said “Having two puppies at the same time sounds like a great idea!” And it is a great idea, at least in theory. But where I used to get some reading done or maybe make it to yoga, I now spend my evenings refereeing cage matches and tug-o-war and tail-twirling contests, making certain that no one swallows wood chips or eats one of my old tennies that they’re in the midst of destroying, and sponsoring field trips outside just in case the youngest addition might have to go to the bathroom. When I asked Joel what he would like for Christmas, he said, “A third dog. So that we can potty train it, too.”

He was totally kidding.

I hope.

Don’t get me wrong–I love both Eleanor and Beatrice. (And yes, we know their names make them sound like a couple of old biddies, but that is part of their charm.) I love puppy breath and waking up to find them bigger and the constant exploring. I laugh when friends and neighbors see me on the street for the first time with the both of them and say, “You DIDN’T!!” (Oh, but we soooooo did.) This morning I took a shower with both a lab and a German Shepherd, and it wasn’t because either of them needed a bath. They saw me disappear behind the curtain and thought they needed to be there, too.

Joel has been gone the past couple of days to a work conference in California, so it has been just me and the dogs, which gives me a whole new level of respect for single parents. When Beatrice arrived, we put her on the same puppy food as Eleanor, but between stress, leaving home, flying, and a completely new environment, both dogs decided that the perfect welcome gift would be to get really really sick. I’ve had a few days of modified food, canned tripe, nearly subjected them to canned pumpkin, and I’m now one of those people that cooks for the dogs. Last night, I made up a big batch of brown rice, hamburger, and sweet potato, and fortunately, that seemed to do the trick. I must confess to rolling my eyes at myself when I sacrificed the carrots I’d been saving to the dogs.

Beatrice is a dominant wee beast, much more so than I was anticipating. It’s been a week now, and I can still hear her howls when we tried to crate her at night. After three hours of abject wailing, I pulled into bed with us. She hasn’t left since. You’d think that since she was so much happier sleeping with the family, she’d be more considerate about her night-time antics. That hasn’t proven to be the case. We all pile into bed together, and after a few not-so-subtle reminders that bedtime is NOT playtime, I try to get to sleep. While I may get to sleep, staying asleep is a very different issue. It never fails that Beatrice starts chewing on Eleanor, Eleanor retaliates by chewing back, somehow they wind up in the middle, each trying to be the big dog. I should also point out that I’m not at my best at three. I cannot find my glasses, I forgot where I hid my slippers from the dogs (thereby hiding them from myself), and it doesn’t make sense why this is the call to play. But then there are the idyllic moments, when they snuggle up close, hoping for an extra chest rub or an ear pull. If I’m lucky, there’s a deep puppy sigh and a maybe a scant hour of sleep before it’s time to wake up.

And with that, I’m off to bed. I only hope that I won’t be up commenting on my own work in the pre-dawn hours.

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