Tag Archives: parenting

Puppy’s First Weekend Away

Every year, Kira and I get away from the rain and dreary weather of Seattle to travel down to Santa Monica, CA for an Ultimate Frisbee tournament called Lei Out. There, we join thousands of other Ultimate fanatics for two days and three nights of sun, sand, Ultimate, and debauchery.

(I have to get this out of the way. If you don’t know Ultimate, watch this)

We go every year to take in some mid winter sun and to stave off the cabin fever of being stuck inside on the cold days of January and February. We usually don’t give it a second thought, taking off an extra day of work and enjoying the three day MLK weekend in style. This past weekend, however, was a bit different in that we had something else to worry about.

What were we going to do with Pickle?

We had never left our pup with anyone else, and in the four months since we got her, I’ve never been away from her for more than 6 hours. Seriously. So when we were planning on leaving for four days, I didn’t know how I was going to react.

We are lucky to have friends who love dogs. We didn’t want to leave Pickle at a kennel or with just any friends, and a good couple of dog owners were willing to help us out. A little bit of worry was lifted from my shoulders.

But not all of it. The days to our flight drew closer, and Kira and I were making sure that Pickle had all of her belongings. I began to get more and more anxious, trying to cover all the details. How much food would she need? Where would she sleep? Would she get along with my friends’ dogs?

The night finally came to drop Pickle off. Kira had homework to do and it was up to me to leave Pickle and her gear. I hauled her kennel, her blankets and favorite toys, and two weeks worth of food up the stairs in my friends’ apartment building, unconsciously slow, suddenly wondering if I should just turn around, cancel the trip and stay home.

What was I thinking? Surely one weekend would be fine.

Or would it? What if she didn’t sleep? What if she drove my friends crazy by not sleeping? Would she miss us? Would she pee in their apartment? Would she eat? Would she get scared and run out the door and escape down the three flights of stairs to the street and run out into the road and get hit by a bus?

I snapped back into it as my friends opened the door to their apartment to let me in. I was greeted by their two border collie mixes and a reassuring sense of comfort. I found myself going into way too much detail about her bathroom schedule, and giving them hints as to what her favorite chew toys are. I was the nervous parent leaving their baby for the first day of kindergarten. Yes, I was that dad.

We were all set. I said my thank you and walked out the door, but not without pausing on the outside, waiting to hear a whimper from Pickle’s little voice. All the way down to the car, I caught myself pausing, waiting, talking myself out of turning around.

I can’t explain it. I knew Pickle was going to be taken care of, she would be loved and exercised and would be happy. But I never thought I would wonder if my dog would miss me, or if they would be happy to see me when I came back.

We went to Santa Monica and had the best weekend we could hope for. We partied, hung out with most of the Seattle Ultimate players and made some great memories (and lost some). Yet, come Monday morning, as we headed to the airport to return, I was excited to see my baby girl. I was that dad.

Of course all my worries were swept away when we returned. Pickle was thrilled to see us, she was healthy and looked like she doubled in size. She was a ball of excited energy, jumping and licking anything she could get her tongue on. All of my time in a dog kennel and I finally understood why a dog was so excited to see their owner after only four days away.

But more so I understood a new part of dog parenting that I never knew before. When you are responsible for a pet, you learn to love them like a child. You raise them, teach them good habits, provide them with food and healthcare, and they become part of your everyday. Every minute is about keeping them entertained, making sure they don’t pee in the house or shred a sweater. When they are gone, even for a few days, there is a hole left behind. I grew up with a dog, but I don’t remember raising her as a puppy. I remember being sad when I left her for weekend trips, leaving for college, but this was a whole new feeling. This was what parenting felt like. As much as I wish for days off sometimes, when I finally got one, all I wanted was my puppy.

Love your puppy and they will give unconditional love in return. All it took was one weekend for me to see how important that all was.

Potty Training … for Humans

Surprise, puppies don’t come potty trained.

We were painfully reminded of this fact the first night our little Pickle came home. She was stressed out with an upset stomach and her poo was, well, loose. To add extra trauma to our already unpleasant evening, Pickle is too young to be out on public ground where lots of dogs are able to go to the bathroom. Her immune system is not yet strong enough to fight off lots of the illnesses older dogs carry, and is still 5 weeks from being completely vaccinated.

Oh, and there’s the little, minor, not-that-big-of-a-deal issue of us moving into a new place that does not have a grass yard.

But we were “prepared”.

In a small 1-1/2 X 2-1/2 ft tub, we gave her the only yard that we could. We filled it with dirt, and a small patch of sod that we hoped she would take and adopt as her short-term potty spot. Our efforts, though, were futile. She had come from a foster home with a full backyard to roam, and this little patch of sod wasn’t cutting it for her. For two days we suffered through accidents and using the sidewalk as her only potty spot. Any sign of squatting, and out we rushed to the porch, first to the sod, which she would usually tear up and try to destroy, then to the sidewalk where at least she had learned to do her business. It wasn’t ideal, but at least she was going to the bathroom.

So we plotted. We schemed. We drew blueprints. And finally the three of us got in the car and drove to Home Depot. One cart load of planter boxes, grass plants, a bag of dirt and two bags of river rock later, we were in business.


The result was turning our roughly 25sq/ft porch into a doggie play pen. (Note, we started with the grass tub in the upper right.) She was instantly drawn to the different textures and terrain. I was glad the summer I just spent working alongside a landscape designer paid off!

Soon, she was even using it to go to the bathroom!

Eventually I'll get a camera better than my phone.

I feel bad that we can’t expose our puppy to the world she sees off the porch, but better to be safe with her young, weak immune system. Luckily it has been a few days and the accidents inside have almost stopped, so she must have figured it out. I’m happy to say she only went “#2” inside the one time, and she whines and barks when she needs to go out when in her kennel. We are thankful to have a pretty smart pup 🙂

Some natural questions follow (at least in my head) about keeping the space clean. Well, we’re working on that. I made the joke this morning (much to the annoyance of my girlfriend) that date night now involved a bucket of soapy water, two scrub brushes, and soiled river rock. I think she’ll buy in soon.

At least Pickle has bought in and seems happy with the space. Soon as she’s old enough we’ll be able to branch out (and maybe even get our sitting area back) and we can dismantle the play pen. But for now, I’m just happy she’s not going inside.