Earlier this month, I shared that one of my quarantine past times had become searching for a puppy. If you’ve ever been out in public with me (remember those days?), you’re aware I have a wandering eye…that wanders to any and every dog that walks by. I knew I would get a dog eventually, and I’ve had my eyes set on a mini bernedoodle for years. I even made an Instagram handle, @feeltheberndoodle, three years ago and yes, I totally meant to spell bernedoodle wrong…

After calling, emailing, and following breeders and animal shelters on Instagram incessantly, I came to terms with the likely fact that I wouldn’t be getting a dog anytime soon. But then, it was a birthday miracle. I happened to be on Instagram only a few minutes after this post was written:

Frantically, I called and messaged the breeder saying I was very interested. I came running out of our bedroom, interrupted Gregg’s Zoom call, and told him we found a pup! Things sped up quickly from there. The dog, now known as Chester, was supposed to go to a couple in Texas but they passed on taking him home after they both lost their jobs due to Covid-19. We told the breeder we had been looking for a mini bernedoodle and it was my birthday so… come on. We should get this dog!

The breeder had people on a waitlist she would typically offer the dog to but said for some reason (aka my birthday miracle), she decided to try posting him on Instagram instead. There were eight other inquiries but ours was the first she saw. This was Wednesday. She said she had a “flight nanny” delivering two other dogs to California on Saturday so she could bring our puppy as well. The next two days were a flurry of WTF do we do, OMG, we’re really getting a dog!

We placed several Petco orders, ran back and forth to their store, found a vet, got pet insurance, and did a (now looking back) pretty poor attempt at straightening up our apartment to make it puppy proof.

Saturday, April 11, our beautiful pup arrived on a flight out of Utah, at Ontario airport, which I learned, is not in Canada but is an hour from us in Los Angeles. Timid, our puppy was so sweet as he sat in my lap as we drove home. It’s funny looking back because Chester (named after Gregg’s grandpa) is anything but. He is rambunctious, bold, curious, and goofy. He is also a handful and has now become my full-time job. I give anyone who has ever gotten a puppy while also working (which I assume is most) lots of credit.

Between Gregg and I, we have to keep our eyes on Chester at all times. If not, he could be getting wedged behind the tiniest crawl space of our couch, humping our dumbbells, or taking a poop in the shower. I soon realized while I obsessed about getting a dog forever, I never really looked into what dog ownership actually meant.

A puppy needs to be trained and that requires patience. Our expectations may have been a bit high. By day three, Gregg and I complained, why doesn’t he understand he can only pee outside? It’s not that complicated! We have had Chester now for two and a half weeks and some may say, we really messed up our “ideal” quarantine situation. We were two people, engaged, without any kids, who could do whatever we wanted, which included sleeping in until around 10 a.m. most mornings. Now, our days revolve around Chester and they start at 6 a.m. (and really, even earlier, if you count our 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. nightly wake-up calls to take him out).

Crate training is difficult, especially if you live in an apartment. For a little dog, our boy can shriek! It’s heart-wrenching and maddening when he goes crazy in his crate and his howls actually sound like he is saying, “Ow, ow, ow!” Chester may look sweet, but beware of his sharp teeth! His idea of playtime is nipping and biting at us, and my hands look like those of a worker at The Tiger King zoo.

I’m exhausted often and also, my bank account is draining. Hey IRS, if you could send that stimulus check now, that would be great. Wellness checkups, vaccines, and the worst, after two days of vomiting and diarrhea, we needed to take Chester to the vet and learned he had a parasite. This is common in puppies and Chester has since been on medicine that has restored him back to his usual, playful self.

I’ve never been a parent but I have to imagine this is great prep. Gregg and I lie in bed at night, discussing Chester and how we can work on his behavior. We gave each other “OMG” glances when Chester, on his own, walked in and laid down in his crate last night. We work together, taking turns at night to take Chester out. And like most new parents, we can’t stop taking pictures of our new puppy (we’ve also vowed never to refer to him as our “furbaby”).

This experience thus far has been challenging, but also, has given me purpose during this crazy time at home. Getting Chester to “sit” and “stay” for the first time was such a rewarding feeling. Snuggling with him when he’s tired and not trying to nip our noses off is the most comforting feeling in the world. It’s amazing how much I love this pup, yet also, how frustrated he makes me. Who needs kids? I’ve got Chester.

Kidding. Kidding. Mom. Grandma. Don’t freak out.

Chester is growing every day. It’s wild to think he will be full-size (about 30-40 pounds) in just a year. 2020 has not been great for any of us, but welcoming Chester to our family will be the one glaring positive that we can always remember this year by.

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