Our new year began with a bang and a handful of midnight whimpers. You see, on January 1st, we made a two hour drive to the middle of Ohio to meet our newest family member. Described by her breeders as ‘spunky’ (which led us to question… ‘What does that mean…? What have we gotten ourselves into…?’), this tank of a 12 week old chocolate labrador retriever sat quietly as Brent, Baboon and I checked her out on the floor of her breeder’s home. By the time we got ourselves and our new pup back into the car to drive home, it was clear that our litter choice was spot on.
We named her Gorilla. Of course.
The trip back to Cincinnati was marked with snuggling, excitement, roadside urination (the pup - not us), sweet little puppy noises and eventually, exhausted napping. And, yes, we saw signs of her ‘spunky’ nature almost immediately. That afternoon, Gorilla scoped out our home and entertained her first guests. By dinner time, we were all so tired (did I mention we were out late ringing in the new year the night before?) and ready to settle in for a long winter’s nap.
We knew the next 3 months would include wee small hour pee trips down two flights of stairs into the backyard to let a wide awake pup do her business - maybe nightly. And so far, Gorilla has delivered on that promise. What we maybe didn’t factor in, or maybe didn’t care because we were so ready to have a new force in our pack, was that these sojourns would take place in the dead of winter. (Did I mention the first week of January in the Midwest was in the middle of one of the coldest 2 week periods in many years?)
I can tell you that standing outside at 4am, in the dark, in -2F weather waiting for a pet to take a whiz begs a certain kind of fortitude. An almost blind and unwavering commitment that defies logic prevails in that moment. This kind of irrational self-flagellation can only be motivated by one simple thing: Love. More specifically: Puppy Love.
Puppy Love is the thing that allows us to kneel down multiple times a day and scrub pee from the carpet without getting rage-face angry. It keeps a calm voice as Gorilla bears down on our hands with her little shark teeth time and again. It gently redirects her gnat-sized attention span back to her duties in the backyard as every passing leaf or tiny sound causes her head to bob and swing around wildly trying to determine from whence it came. It even encourages our sweet Baboon to welcome snuggles from the new pup - it seems she’s happy to have a sidekick around again, too. We could not be happier about that! Puppy Love appreciates even the messiest parts of this stage of our life together.
Probably the biggest prize that Puppy Love has to offer is that it will still be there long after the cold nights standing in the yard have ended. We know this time will be short lived. We won’t need the level of patience it assures 6 months from now. At that point, we’ll just get to enjoy watching the incredible beast that Gorilla’s already becoming continue to burgeon (did I mention she weighed 20 pounds at 12 weeks? She’s going to be a big’n). By the time summer rolls around, Puppy Love will give way to mutual respect, warm admiration and the joyful, indelible bond that only pet ownership can give.