Two Plus Two Equals Chaos!

May 21, 2009

Of course one mustn’t compare, but… Pups are so much like children. Only, so much easier. They only need to be fed and walked. You don’t have to teach them how to eat by themselves without spilling the food and making a mess of themselves; they are generally tidy creatures who will lick up crumbs from the floor and groom themselves later. (They are also quite helpful in cleaning up spills of an edible nature.) Plus, you don’t have to teach them to speak, read and write, add and subtract, paint, ride a cycle…

Best of all, they will not ever ask you to explain – among other awkward things – why there are 346 photos of one and only 343 of the other in the first few months of their lives with you.

So much for differences. There are some similarities, as well. The pups, in their first few days with us, have been almost as passive as the girls were. The girls have certainly grown out of it, so I’m hoping it’s just a part of the adoption trauma, the uprooting and the unfamiliarity of a new place, a new family. That must be terribly upsetting, even for dogs. Like the twins, one of the pups, Sandy, has a bad tummy (diarrhoea), which could also be due partly or entirely to the change in place and diet. Sandy (like Mrini, who had scabies) also has a skin condition for which the vet has prescribed a course of antibiotics, in addition to a cream and an unhealthy dose of anti-mite spray.

Unlike the twins, who gobbled everything in those early days with us, Mishti is a fussy eater. Even when she’s terribly hungry, if her food doesn’t have a good dose of non-veg in it, she’ll turn her nose up at it in a most supercilious manner. If there is a sufficient quantity of non-veg, she’ll dig her nose into it with determination and snarl at Sandy. They have separate bowls, but they insist on both eating from one and then from the other; I suppose each wants to be sure that the other isn’t getting something more delicious.

Mishti is slowly getting to grips with the concept of being put on a leash and taken for a walk. At least she now does 90% of the walk on her own steam, without being dragged along. She hasn’t yet thought of doing her business while out on a walk, but I suppose she’ll hit upon the idea some day. The last few times, the twins have wanted to join in on the walk-the-dog sessions, and have even taken hold of the leash. Something good should come of this, sometime soon. But Sandy, whom I’ve taken out only a couple of times, is still completely averse to the idea. I’m hoping that once Mishti “gets” it, I can add Sandy to the soup and he’ll pick it up from her.

My memories of my dog days (to misuse the phrase) are full of easy and happy times. As a teenager, I played with the dogs, groomed them, walked them, fed them, scolded them when required, slept with them (something Amit has always been a teeny bit jealous of!)… we were pretty much siblings. With the twins and the pups, it’s not quite there yet. On Monday, when I had turned my back on the lot of them for a couple of ticks, I turned around to find that Sandy had cornered Tara on the floor and was licking her feet and Tara was wailing as loudly and hysterically as she possibly could. It would have been funny, if only the poor girl hadn’t been so totally petrified.

After that episode, it has taken several days for Tara to become even mildly less paranoid of the four-leggeds. The moment they make a move in her direction, she runs screaming and wailing and clutches on to me with all her might. Mrini is less terrorised. On one occasion when both dogs succeeded in backing her into a corner, she put both her hands out in front of her and pushed them away by the nose! I was so proud of her, because she is normally the scaredy cat of the two. Since then, she has made numerous friendly overtures including sitting by the dogs as they sleep, patting them, putting her face within licking distance, poking their eyes and so on. At least she’s getting the idea.

The more dog-friendly of my friends assure me that the kids and the pups will be best of friends – or at least best of siblings – very soon; that the pups will get used to going for walks and doing their business outdoors; that they will all grow up and settle down and I can stop living with all the bedroom doors closed (to keep the messes off the mattresses) and the living room in tatters (thanks to teething puppies) and Tara in tears… it will all come together into one big happy family, some day soon. That’s what they tell me.

Well, I hope they’re right. It can’t be soon enough for me.

So That’s Why They Say, “Be Careful What You Wish For”

May 19, 2009

After the first full day of having the pups at home, I have to admit, I feel rather as though I’ve been run over by a road roller. What was I thinking. They’re peeing and pooping all over the place and the only thing I’m doing all day apart from thinking up and managing ten separate meals (four for the pups in addition to three each for kids and adults) is cleaning up their messes. And stinky they are too! As if I haven’t just had my fill of that – it’s not that long ago that I was up to my elbows in the twins’ pee and poo.

On the other hand, if this is something you’ve got to do, you might as well do it and get it done with while you still remember how. And have the energy for – even if I’m not sure that I really do. I remember feeling equally dazed and road-rollered when the twins came home – and that was with the pee and poo all neatly tied up in diapers. So I know it’s going to get better.

Or at least, I think I know it will.

At any rate, I firmly believe it will.

Or… I somewhat believe it will.

Ok, I desperately hope it will.

It willl.

Won’t it?

Oh, for a garden with a screen door that the dogs can open from either side, like we had when I was a teenager and we had three dogs at home, and everything was so simple – or so it seems with the rose-tinted glasses of retrospect.

The first day, the dogs were both completely subdued. They ate, but they showed no signs of life apart from that. Until 2 a.m. – then they decided it was time to play. They came and pushed open our door and entered our room and walked on to our bed and demanded company, or at least an audience. We threw them out, so they complained for an hour. Then, they fell asleep – or I did, perhaps – only to awaken at 4.45 a.m. with similar requests. This time, I actually got up – and started my day by cleaning up about a half-dozen messes. Charming. However, the dogs did their best to entertain me by chewing my ankles and scraping my legs raw – they were in high spirits and didn’t even remotely resemble the limp, lifeless beings we had brought home some hours ago. Which was great, but… did they really have to wait till 4.45 on Sunday morning??

The rest of Sunday, they alternated between being sleepy or asleep, and being frisky. They played together most adorably in the afternoon, and when S, P and p came to visit in the evening, they were their social best, all wagging tails and huge grins. It was good to see them being more like what I imagined pups should be like. Even the stinking messes seemed a little more bearable when done by a happy, grinning, playful pup.

The twins are quite fascinated by them – when they wake up and come out, they don’t come to me or Amit any more, they just stop and stare at the pups. They’ve patted both pups, somewhat tentatively, though they haven’t tried really playing with them yet. At one point, Sandy went to poop in the bathroom and Tara came and told me all about it, so I could stop whatever I was doing and go clean up. Very nice, thank you Tara.

It took the pups exactly 24 hours to discover the living room, and exactly 24 hours and one minute to pee on the mattress that serves as a divan. In the next few minutes, they also similarly honoured the carpet. Within a few short minutes, our living room was rendered completely devoid of any scrap of fabric other than what was hanging from the curtain rods and stitched to the sofa and armchair. Surely, they will mark those bits of furniture soon enough, but there’s nowhere we can move them to. Besides, we have to have some place to sit.

The only real problem so far has been walking them. They’re terrified of their leashes and of being led around by them. Perhaps they’ve seen too many painful things happening to dogs who get taken away in the Shelter. Anyway, we took them out on Saturday evening, and Mishti managed to wriggle out of her collar, which must have been too loose. I hadn’t worried too much, because I’d thought she’d just stop where she was, if she managed to get free – she seemed so meek and mild. But she streaked off like greased lightening and hid under a car. Sup33 had come to say hi, along with her mother and her daughter, and with Amit and the twins and Sandy around, it was quite a large party that helped or watched as we struggled to coax or otherwise persuade Mishti to come out from under the car. We were still too new to her and she wasn’t inclined to trust us, so it took some doing. At one point, I almost thought we’d have to just leave her there, but that would have been too terrible. Finally, with Amit shooing from one end, and me at the other end making the disgusting kissing sounds one makes to animals when trying to persuade them to cooperate, we managed to get her. And we went straight home and haven’t ventured out since. Of course, we will have to sooner or later – I’m going to have to take dogs and girls out together sometime soon, but I really can’t say yet how that milestone is going to be achieved, much less when.

So life has become tremendously more complicated than it already was. Sigh.

And no, knowing that I asked for it doesn’t make it any easier.

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