Zero to Sixty

Sigh. He’s sprouting like a weed. All of the sudden he has these legs that are way too long for him, he’s so tall he can barely lick the floor (one of his favorite hobbies), his bark is hilariously deep, and his puppy collar barely fits around his snout. He is almost 5 months old, and he weighs 49 lbs.

Bender, a golden retriever puppy, wearing a USC scarf and modeling his very long front legs.

Look at those legs! They don’t even fit in the picture!

On May 7th, 2013 my friend Tory was visiting for Derby Day (Derby is a big thing for us). We were chatting in the kitchen post-party when my computer dinged and I saw a gchat from my mom.

9:16 AM

Mom: Hey kid, I HAVE GREAT NEWS!!! are you there??

me: Hey mom, what’s up?

Mom: There is a grandmother in our family

me:  … what?

(No one in my family is the type to be popping out any secret babies.)

Mom: There is a grandmother in our family and it is not me 

(I’m an only child so, yes, I was pretty sure the secret grandma was not her)

me: Is it me??? Are there puppies?!?

Mom: YUP

me: Yay!!!!! That IS great news!!

Mom: but you would actually be a great grandmother

me: What’s the situation?!? Where are they?? How many??

(NOTE: I had been bugging my mom for years to orchestrate a litter of puppies from this family for me)

Mom: PUPPIES!!!!!!!! 3 male 3 female, born yesterday

(At this point I called her because she types like a grandma and I needed answers)

Puppies. 6 perfect little fuzzballs were squeaking around in New Jersey.

A very small puppy about 2 weeks old. He has just opened his eys.

This is one of the male puppies at just two weeks old. Possibly Bender!

In September of 2007 Bailey became a mother. The last puppy to leave our house was a little girl we’d named Champagne, when she was 9 weeks old she headed up to Hopewell, New Jersey.

Brady, an 8 week old golden retriever puppy in a red pick up truck headed to her new home.

Bender’s mom, Brady, on her way home

We didn’t hear from Champagne again until that day in May. My aunt ran into the man who had adopted Champagne (now called Brady) and he happily told her that Brady had become a mother the night before! My aunt called my mom, my mom gchatted me, and I devolved into a whirl of emotions.

Brady sits nursing her six golden retriever puppies in the whelping box

Brady with her litter of three week old puppies.

It started off with OMG OMG OMG I CAN’T WAIT TO GET A PUPPY OMG OMG!!! Then spiraled into holy crap I can’t handle a puppy, that’s a living being! What am I thinking?! I barely take care of myself how can I keep a puppy alive and healthy and well trained and happy?! My logical side was continually battling (and losing to) my emotional side (that seems to be a trend with me). Every time doubts crept into my head: how will you afford a puppy? do you know you’ll have to wake up every night to let him out? what will you do when he cries in the crate? are you going to leave him in Colorado when you go away for 2 weeks at Christmas? how will you ever travel again? what if you forget to feed him? what if he eats a rock and dies when you aren’t looking? what if he jumps on little kids and barks at everyone and humps the neighbors?

Bender at 10 weeks chewing on a bike pedal

Just the occasional chewing on a bike pedal

I thwarted these mostly logical (slightly sensational) arguments with one answer: I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. I’m not very good at preparing for disaster. I do a lot of “winging it”. Nate is decidedly more of a preparation guy and forced me to at least create a budget. While I was dreaming of great dog names — Mason, Duffman, Porter, Lager, Spuds, Tank — Nate was having nightmares about $5000 a year vet bills and 40lbs of dog food a month (and chewed up computer cords, pee in the house, never getting to go to happy hours again blah blah blah — like I said, slightly sensational). Nate had never had a dog before so our friends’ stories about machine gun diarrhea around the living room and the complete destruction of their possessions really hit him hard. I assured him that our dog wouldn’t do those things (convincing myself it was the truth or whispering under my breath “we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it”).

Bender at 10 weeks in a basket of clean laundry

Searched for a few minutes and finally found him in here.

So after a lot of coaxing he agreed to bring a dirty, cuddly, chewy, loving, stinky fuzzbutt into our house & hearts. I woke up 3 times to let Bender out the first night we brought him home. We moved into the guest room the next night because we had less possessions in there for him to destroy. With no socks and hardly any furniture in the guest room he set about ripping apart the box spring from under the bed. We didn’t sleep a lot. In some of my gravest hours — 4am watching Bender pee and bolt around the yard with no chance at going back to bed — I thought maybe I’d made a huge mistake. This will pass I thought. This is me getting to the bridge and crossing it I thought. Soon it will be over I thought.

Bender at 11 weeks, lying on the floor in front of the fireplace trying not to sleep

4AM fighting sleep

That seems like a lifetime ago. Back then I was deliriously googling “how to get my dog to sleep in” in the wee hours of the morning. Now he sleeps through the night till at least 7 — sometimes 8 or 9 on the weekends! — and now we can let him out without watching his EVERY move. We have to watch a lot of his moves, but not every single one. Now he comes when we call him. He only chews on underpants he finds lying around (and has only successfully eaten half of one pair – which led to lots of purple poops).

Illustration of purple fabric stuck in some poop

I won’t include a real picture…this gives you an idea….

And in the last few weeks he has started losing his baby teeth like it’s going out of style. He had these huge purple mounds in his gums where his molars were coming in and they have finally burst out of his gums. It must hurt so much! It’s a wonder he’s not just whining all the time. Luckily this teething stage has not lead to any chewing on our possessions. Just a few bloody raw hides when his old teeth fall out.

Bender, open mouthed, with his new teeth poking through his gums

New teeth poking through his gums

Occasionally I miss the days when he could cuddle comfortably on my lap, (now he’s a tangle of legs and a tail too long). But mostly I’m excited to see what kind of dog he matures into. He’s an observant, calm, intelligent and loving puppy, I’m sure his adult self will be just as wonderful, and I’m excited to see him grow up.

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