Saturday, October 16, 2004

Just Say No to Puppies OR Teens 4, Lane 0

Dogs 'r not us. We have tried, usually because of the pitiful pleas of our children. Michael had a dog - Scottie - when we met, and once it was, admittedly, me that made the pitiful pleas. That resulted in Blitz, an Afghan hound we never should have owned. But the other dogs we have owned "belonged" to our children, at least until the novelty wore off and ownership passed on to Michael and I. This is not a new story. Most families with dogs (or cats, for that matter) can relate to it.

Tori managed to pull a new one on me yesterday. Tori and her friend Kristen. Picture this: your doe-eyed young teen daughter appears at your front door with her friend and says, "Kristen needs your help." Immediately, the mom-hormones surge and you prepare to tackle a serious problem. I expected Kristen to be locked out, to have forgotten a desperately needed book at school, to be ill, injured or broken. Knowing her mom worked, I expected, at the least, to offer her a free telephone call. What Kristen said was, "I need someplace to keep a puppy until my friend's birthday."

This led to a long list of sensible questions from me. "Why couldn't she take the puppy home?" They have three other dogs. "Why couldn't she wait and pick the puppy up later in the week?" The owners were going to sell it to someone else if she didn't buy it right away. "How did she know her friend could have a puppy?" Oh, it was fine, the girls had asked. "What was her mom going to say about her buying a puppy?" Oh, it was okay because Kristen was spending her own money. Now this should have been a tip-off, because she didn't actually answer the question I asked, but I blew it and didn't make the connection. Score one for the teen-agers.

I expressed my severe doubts about the whole proposition. I didn't even say I'd think about it. But I didn't say it was out of the question. Score two for the teen-agers. They told me they'd be right back and took off around the corner of our street. I didn't think too much about it. Ten minutes later, Tori appeared at the door - sans Kristen - with a puppy in her arms. Score three for the teen-agers.

Puppy aside: This puppy was so tiny I could hardly believe it had been liberated from its mother. Obviously the product of larger dogs by it's coloring and conformation, it barely made a handful and was a slack handful at that, practically non-responsive. Apparently, because I asked, the owners had had a bunch of puppies out in the yard, in the hot sun, on sale even though they were patently too young for separation from mom. Some people are just jerks! And who sells mixed breed puppies? Worse jerks.

Well, not knowing that Kristen had purchased said puppy already, I strongly suggested that she take it back to its mother for a few more weeks. The story unraveled from there. She couldn't take it back, she couldn't take it home and she couldn't give it to her friend until later in the week. If the dog had been conscious, three pairs of doe-eyes would have been looking at me pleadingly. Score four for the teen-agers.

Honestly, I thought it was a goner already and that we were going to have a dead puppy on our hands momentarily. Had it had its shots? Shrug. What was it going to eat? Kristen would bring puppy chow. And then Kristen disappeared, because she wasn't supposed to leave the house until her mom got home from work.

I was skunked by the teen-agers hands down. We dug out the cat crate, made a bed and put the puppy in it. Hours later, she did rouse and I managed to get her to drink some milk and eat some puppy chow, but she wasn't very good at eating the chow. Tori took her into her room for the night and (very reluctantly) got up with her in the middle of the night. I spoke to her from my bed, but didn't get up. Bad mistake. The next morning I went to get her up for a long drive to Kingwood to take her Girl Scout safe boating and Red Cross swim level tests and found her asleep, a lot of very yucky puppy poop on her rug and no puppy.

Yes, you are reading correctly. No puppy. Tori didn't lock the puppy back in its crate after the middle-of-the-night potty trip. Her bedroom door had been closed all night, though, so there should have been a puppy. Looking around the horribly piled up mess in her room, I suddenly realized the puppy probably WAS there. I yelled at Tori not to move when she started to climb out of bed and began digging through piles calling the pup. I now understand what rescue workers feel like digging through rubble after a natural disaster.

Natural disaster aside: Actually, I already knew that feeling because we lost a home in a catastrophe 25 years ago. That's another story.

Tori spotted the puppy first, wedged between the bed and a pile consisting of clothes, books, broken toys, make-up and lord knows what else. Tori shifted the bed and I extracted the puppy. She literally couldn't move because she had dug herself into a hole she couldn't back out of. But the puppy was still breathing - she started crying as soon as I retrieved her.

Did I tell you this puppy was really, really young? She reminded me of about a six-month-old baby who can sit up, but not reliably, and topples over at unexpected moments. The puppy would sit down, try to scratch itself with its back leg, and roll over into a somersault. If she had to pass a drunk test, she would have gone to jail because she couldn't walk a straight line.

When I took Tori to her swim event, we saw Kristen and her mom (they are in the same Girl Scout troop). Of course, I had a long talk with Kristen's mom about the puppy - which makes me the WORST mom in the world, BTW - and, naturally, she didn't know a thing about the puppy. It's a good thing the girls were in the pool and unavailable for the next couple of hours!

The upshot of the whole event is that we kept the puppy until Sunday, when Kristen's family picked it up and returned it to the original owners. (The double jerks, remember?) I do know they got a refund. I don't want to know anything else, including where the double jerks live. Tori is depressed, dejected and miserable even though I told her over and over that we were not keeping the dog. I doubt she learned any lessons, but I had a potent reminder of the parental cardinal rule: Just say NO.


P.S. It is actually Monday now, not Saturday. We went to the Renaissance Festival yesterday and I'll try to write about that soon. It was medieval!

No comments: