Our family added a member the other day — a deep butterscotch ball of fur that will soon start looking like a Golden Retriever. Kensi (or is it Kenzie?) left her birthmother and four remaining brothers on July 5 at age six weeks and a day and started a brave new life. She came home to live with me, my wife and our son in her new home. Our Sheltie of about 7 years of age rounds out the resident population.
I’ve always maintained that adding a single member of a household has the effect of changing every relationship. For instance, when our first son was born, Susan and I adjusted to him and vice versa, but our relationship with each other required some adjustments, too. That happened again with the birth of our second son (and last offspring).
To a lesser degree, the day we took our young sons to a Richmond, Va., animal shelter and adopted a tiny Cairn Terrier mix, the family adjusted again. Biskit was still with us when we adopted Sasha years later (more adjustments), and Sasha was still alive when we added our first Golden Retriever, Casey, years after that.
Our Sheltie Molly was Casey’s companion for a few years until Casey’s death. Now it’s up to Molly to help us guide Kensi through puppyhood, canine adolescence and canine adulthood.
This isn’t our first rodeo, so to speak, but taking in a new puppy is still an adventure. Our animals have always been indoor pets who used the great outdoors of our lawns for recreation and necessary “business.” Kensi is starting the same way.
The nighttime routine is for Kensi to be placed in a pet crate with comfy bedding and a toy capable of being chewed and squeezed. Our “agreement” is that because she is in training, she will let out a bark or puppy howl to advise Susan or me that it is wise to give her a break from the crate, take her outdoors and coax her to bladder relief – at least.
Coaxing a rookie is not one of my strongest abilities under a moonlit sky at 1:30 a.m. or 4 a.m. or whenever the diminutive fur-ball awakens me and signals me to action. So far it has been more than once per night. Frankly, I’m feeling a little too old to have my sleeping pattern (or sleepless pattern) dictated by a little four-legged, tail-wagging yapper.
Kensi has helped my prayer life. I pray that she will be a quick learner and that the size of her bladder will grow as quickly as the rest of her little body – quickly!
Kensi is at least a reminder that life requires adjustments. Some are temporary, like introducing a puppy to the demands of my world; some are longer term, perhaps dictated by age, health constraints or even disability. Some are a mere nuisance; others are traumatic. Some required adjustments that later produce positive returns. This is our hope with the puppy. Some require adjustments with the primary reward being that we are at least able to manage whatever has prompted these adjustments in the first place.
By the way, my wife, who is an educator still a couple of weeks away from a new school term, is using her time off during the day (sometimes at night, too) to take the lead in developing appropriate canine behavior in this new family addition. Her task is much more intense than the few times I spring into action during the night. After all, during the first few days, we’ve been spared nighttime rainfall.
Susan has assured me we will get through this. After all, how smart can a 6-week-old pup be expected to be?
She is right. We have joyfully survived being parents and even grandparents, at least up till now. Nothing worthwhile in this life is particularly easy. On this particular day, this is especially true of the most recent family member in our household.
So, I will improve my attitude and be a cheerleader: C’mon, Kensi, you can do it!