Minnesota Mamaleh: About A Puppy

I take in that first blissful sip of coffee and my bleary eyes open just a titch. No one needs any help awakening above me. My children, and shockingly not a herd of elephants, make their presence known. And so does Louie with his little yelp. That’s right. Wait for it…We. Got. A.
And a little one at that, only eleven weeks old. Why? Because we’re crazy, somewhat masochistic and as Jason’s buddy said, lovingly I’m sure, just a bit stupid.
I fully realize that my kids are little, puppies are a lot of work and that I am not (so very clearly not) an animal person. But my children? They are. They’re wired to love animals. They collect bugs, build habitats for toads and gulp feed ants, “because they’re hungry!
So that’s what you do when you’re the mom, right? You scoop that poop, hold that leash and love that dog.
Except when you’re me. I was that little girl who climbed my dad’s side as far as I could go in just hearing a dog bark. And I was that twenty-something who held onto Jason’s hand so very tightly when I heard a different dog, but as far as I was concerned, barking the same bark. And I was that thirty-something who pleaded with you (yes, you) to please (please!) put your dog away, wherever it is that dogs get put away, before I came over.
And now here I am. The one with the leash, the dog food, the treats, the toys and the crate. God bless the crate. Our first week together was nothing short of hell. An admittedly little creature absolutely terrified me. Our neighbors, seeing us carrying the empty crate one day, completely rightfully assumed that our puppy was long gone.
But as it turns out, having a dog is much like being newly pregnant or pushing a stroller down the street. Everyone has an opinion, advice and a ready-to-use tip. Fortunately, unlike pregnancy, no one wanted to rub my belly. And we found that many of those tips were indeed, ready to use. And somewhere along the way,

This happened.

And this.

And, inexplicably, this.

Mitzvah the Mutt by Sylvia Rouss

So he’s here to stay. And for the very first time in my life, I totally get why you people like animals.

About a month Before Louie (BL?), the girls and I read Mitzvah the Mutt by Sylvia Rouss. Mitzvah‘s a cutie, for sure, and really, what’s not to love about a dog muddling his way through the Jewish calendar with his new, beloved family? I read this book to my kids because I never pass up an opportunity to read to them. My kids read it because they couldn’t get enough of Sweet Mitzvah.
Fast forward just a few short weeks later when my own children, blissfully glowing the wehaveadog glow, ran over to Louie to wish him a Shabbat Shalom. Chloe exclaimed, “He totally needs a kippah!” And in my mind, I exclaimed, “We say totally way too often!” And in the very same breath, “Thank you Sylvia Rouss.” Thank you for a book that my children can love and relate to and that inspires them to extend and streeeeetch their Judaism. All the way to Louie.

We’re rounding the end of Elul and coming upon the high holidays.Β This is a time of year when we search our hearts, right our wrongs and, perhaps, mindfully make changes. In a word, we do our own streeeetching.

Welcome Louie!

So given that, I could have gone the route of reinforcing who I am, who I’ve always been, and bid farewell to Louie at first sight of those teeth and first sound of that bark. The lesson learned might have been to stay true to yourself. Or to listen to your gut.
But besides the smell of dog food and So. Much. Poop. I saw things building in our home. Like Kayli’s confidence. Chloe’s responsibility. Brody’s independence. And my growth. I teared up a lot those first few days because the whole dog thing just wasn’t me (sob, sniffle). And every time that I would, Chloe would chant, “face it and embrace it!” Where did she learn that from? A wonderful book or an equally fabulous teacher, I’m sure.
And with every fiber of my being I wanted to face it. And embrace it. So I veered away from my stubborn self just long enough to follow some of that excellent advice. And I faced it. Him, I guess. And I’m proud of that.
So, my name is Galit. I have a dog. And I like him. A lot. Lord help me.