Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Biggest Mistake I Ever Made

And Bingo was his name-o.

On New Year's Eve, my son was nipped on the face by a chocolate Lab. He was already nervous about dogs and the event basically pushed that nervousness over the top to full-blown phobia. Having grown-up with dogs my whole life, I couldn't imagine what life would be like if one were terrified of dogs. So I decided that we would get a puppy to help my son with his fear. My logic was that you can't learn to handle a dog by being around cats or guinea pigs... you learn to handle a dog by handling a dog. Secondly, I figured that a puppy would be more appropriate because he would grow up in our family with our kids being a normal part of his life. Conversely, our kids would be around the growing puppy and wouldn't have to deal with an adult-sized dog from the beginning. And I didn't want to worry about leaving my kids in the room with a rescued dog, not really knowing its history.

I still think my logic was sound but the actual implementation was incredibly more difficult than I imagined.

Since Bingo was a puppy, he nipped and his teeth and claws were sharp. Day one went very well because he was still figuring out the lay of the land around the house. But that's where "happy puppy experience" ended. I believe he nipped and scratched both kids on day two, which essentially ended "happy puppy experience" in our house. From that day, and for two months, Bingo was either completely separate from our family, or if he was loose in the house, the kids would literally lay on the very top of our couches to be away from him. This sounds funny, and some day it might be, but it was truly Hell while it lasted. Because my wife and I couldn't overlap time with the puppy and time with our kids, we basically had no time to ourselves or peace in our home. From 5:45 in the morning on my first walk with him until around 11 at night, my wife and I were busy looking after someone. I have never been so exhausted.

So we found an incredible home for Bingo (our dog trainer took him) and chalked that one up to the biggest mistake of my life. At least we learned that we're not dog people and that, if I have to stand up for my son during every encounter with a dog, it will be hundreds of times easier than trying to live with a puppy!