Franny and I have a lot in common. We both love shoes (though one of us is a tad more into the chewing than the wearing.) We both have big hair, especially after walks in the rain. And we both get a little anxious when it comes to life changes.
Take, for example, Franny’s arrival at our little fourth-floor walk-up. On a mild Monday night, the last in November, we scooped our little goldendoodle up from a happy home shared with her eleven brothers and sisters and forced her to trade the suburbs for the city, and two canine parents for two clueless human ones.
She cried all the way to Philadelphia, whimpering and shaking in the little basket propped up next to my seat. On her first walk around the block, she was petrified of everything, from the cars to the front stoops to the bowl of water I offered her upon our return to the apartment. She had no interest in puppy chow. She had no interest in treats. Our fluffy, adorable puppy appeared to be in mourning.
Meanwhile, Franny’s adoptive mother wasn’t doing so hot either. Anxious and overwhelmed at the prospect of taking care of another living thing – like, whose idea was this? – I too found myself uninterested in the things that had once delighted me: food, sleep, Harry Potter. I was too busy taking care of her, and, most importantly, worrying, to complete tasks routinely mastered by normal functioning adults, like cooking dinner, or showering. I worried that she wasn’t eating enough (she wasn’t), that she didn’t get potty training (she didn’t), that we were horrible parents (jury’s still out on that one.)
During the day, I felt like a prisoner; with Franny dozing in the basket beside my desk, I couldn’t move a muscle, couldn’t possibly grab that glass of water or wash my face or put my hair in a ponytail with the aid of a mirror. Walks outside seemed ludicrous, like an exercise in suicide. How had I never noticed all the cigarette butts, shattered glass and chewed up gum lining our block? How would this dog ever survive? Even during the nighttime hours that Franny slept, in between her 3 a.m. walks and 5 a.m. howls, I found myself wide awake, waiting for her to wake up, waiting to hear her cry, waiting for something to go wrong. I started to wonder if that whole post-partum depression thing could apply to things you yourself had not necessarily given birth to. Also, things that aren’t human.
That all lasted for about a week, a week that hit its fever pitch on Thursday and Friday, when Dave was traveling for residency interviews. By the time he arrived home, I felt, and looked, like a harried new mom: dark circles under my eyes, unwashed hair in a messy bun, too-big pajama pants sagging on my hips.
Fortunately, he – the boy who never even wanted a dog in the first place – took pity on the harried mess I had become. He slept with her in the other room for two nights in a row, to make sure that I didn’t even wake up when he took her out. He piled us all in the minivan and drove us to New Jersey, so that she could run around on grass, sans urban minefields. He spent hours attempting to install two different types of baby gates, and, after watching both of them fail to keep her contained in the kitchen, finally put together a borrowed play pen – lovingly driven down from Long Island – that worked.
In other words, things started falling into place. With a little help.
And now, nearly two weeks in, Franny’s tail is wagging more often than not. She sleeps through the night. She (mostly) goes to the potty outside. I (mostly) don’t feel like a failure. And we’re all having a lot of fun.
The lesson learned is the same one I apparently have to experience over and over again to get it through my dense little head: sometimes, shit takes time, whether it’s finding friends in a new city or getting adjusted to life with a puppy.
Of course, some of those anxiety-producing moments still remain. See: Sunday bath time, which found Franny and I equally fraught.
But mostly we’re very happy together.