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Stuff 'N Nonsense Adventures In Puppy Training
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My husband often accuses me of springing things on him when he least expects it.

For example, one night, almost six years ago, while eating dinner, I told him that I was ready for another baby. Fork midway to his mouth, he stared at me from across the table and pointed out, "Our baby is 10" and assumed the conversation was concluded. Of course, he had no way of knowing that I'd been thinking about another baby for some time but I wanted to be sure that's what I wanted before I made my intentions public. Unfortunately, from his viewpoint, I had just grabbed the idea from left field and lobbed it at him midway through his meatloaf. We argued; we point-and-counter-pointed each other. I cried. He stewed. He relented. I conceived. And today, we have a lovely daughter who has her daddy wrapped firmly around her little finger. We cannot imagine life without our princess and sincerely wouldn't want to.

Well, recently, by my husband's way of thinking, I've sprung something on him again, catching him unaware and certainly baffled but in truth, it's something I've been considering for quite some time.

Let me set the stage.

Generally, each morning we shower together - don't get crazy, it's to save time and water! - and we usually use that time to plan the day and to share what's on the agenda. Sort of like an executive meeting of the household. So, it was during one of these sudsy staff meetings, that I announced that I'd like to get a dog.

Now, my husband isn't an animal person. He grew up in an extremely tidy home (fate was certainly cackling like a mad woman when he and I hooked up!) and animals come with a myriad of opportunity for making things dirty or smelly. He tolerates my cats - barely - and the idea of a dog instantly curled his lip and wrinkled his nose. So you can imagine when he said with an emphatic "No!" I wasn't surprised - or deterred. I made my case to him, saying kids need animals to foster empathy and responsibility, two qualities our princess seemed to lack at the moment seeing as she was the youngest and spoiled within an inch of her life. I wanted the dog for her but I knew the boys would love having a dog. So, in the interest of the kids, I persisted.

My husband glowered, complained, gave me all manner of reasons why he didn't want a dog (poop clean-up being a big reason) and then exited the shower in a bad mood. I didn't worry. I knew that if we were meant to have a dog, it would happen.

Two days later, a 7-month-old stray came into our life. He's a mix of purebred German shepherd and husky with the most gorgeous pale blue eye and one brown (two different colored eyes is a common fault with the husky breed) and the second I looked into his face I knew his name: Cisco. I don't know where the name came from or why but it was immediate and without hesitation. He's smart, beautiful and amazing.

With that said, he's still a puppy. So he needs some training. Overall, he's a good boy but we're working on some issues. I've immersed myself in dog training websites and Youtube videos on dog training. I've bought him toys that are mentally stimulating, treats that are soy and preservative-free. I walk with him on my lunch break so he can stretch his legs a bit. He sleeps in the house and seems to think he's just one of the kids. (He even jumped into my husband's lap, hoping for a reassuring cuddle when he was scared.) He's at the vet's office right now getting neutered and he's already enrolled in a puppy plan for his scheduled shots and wellness care. In short, the dog I wanted for the kids has become my dog. I'm his alpha mama. He listens to me; sits at my feet (actually he sits on my feet) and he's so excited to see me everyday at lunch or when I come home from work. And while I would consider myself a cat person at heart (there's no mistaking that my cats rule the house) this puppy has wiggled his way into my life and I can't imagine letting him go.

And even though the hubby wasn't on board at first, he's starting to come around. The adventures in puppyhood are bound to have a few frustrating moments, but as I've told my husband, at least with this baby, there are no midnight feedings and no diaper duty.

He's a part of our household and we love him.

Now if only we could get him to stop chasing anything smaller than him. And chewing on the outside sofa. And tearing up the bushes. And barking at the cats. And pooping on the sidewalk. And getting into the recycle bin. And...*sigh* oh well. You take the good with the bad. Just like humans.

Kim Van Meter is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News, and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.