Dreams of an empty nest

My life is about to undergo a major overhaul. I have two teenagers who will both graduate from high school within two years. They are working on obtaining driver’s licenses and getting jobs. My days as a part-time taxi driver and 24-hour ATM are waning. The boys need me less and less as they gain independence and figure out their responsibilities as young men. At our last planning meeting, my husband, Ray, and I started thinking about, and making plans for, our time as empty-nesters. Although adopting a dog has been a topic that has come over the years up with some regularity, dog was not a topic that came up in our annual planning meeting this January.

or so i thought

And then my friend tagged me in a Facebook post for a dog that pulled at my heartstrings. I sent an inquiry e-mail before I even thought of consulting my husband. One thing led to another, and we are now the owners, possibly permanently, of a 20-month-old German shepherd named Bella. Full disclosure… it was actually Ray’s fault. He mentioned thinking about a German shepherd to aforementioned friend. I’m right back to parenting a toddler who occasionally pays attention to me. Only this one is 60 pounds and has sharp teeth.

THE GOOD

Bella is well-mannered. She sits on command, shakes, and does pretty well with the commands “stay,” “come,” and “leave it.” She is already quite protective of me, pouncing if Ray hugs me for too long. Bella has not chewed on anything inappropriate, rides in the car well, and is loving to everyone in the family. We’ve even felt comfortable enough to leave her alone for very short periods of time.

THE BAD

Isn’t she cute! Ok… cute, yes. But OMG, what a handful!!! At 20 months old, she is still very much a puppy with a whole lot of puppy energy and a few lingering puppy bad manners. Few because, all things considered, she is really is a well-behaved dog. But those few lingering bad manners are going to be a pain to deal with for a while. And, not having had a dog since the late 90s, I have quickly become aware that there is much I don’t know or remember about having a dog. Fair warning to friends with dogs… I will be calling. Often.

The dealbreaker

Unfortunately, there is one bad habit that is a deal breaker for the whole family. The post for Bella indicated that she was “cat friendly.” While she may not want to eat the cats, she definitely wants to play with them and regularly scares the sh!t out of them. She even chased of our more rotund feline friends 40 feet up a tree. I’m pretty sure she’d never been up a tree and it took her a few hours to figure out how to get back down. I would say the advertised “cat friendly” may not have been entirely accurate. While my cats are no strangers to dogs, they have not been around a puppy who charges and barks loudly. They are all traumatized at the moment.

We have a month to try to work things out with Bella and we are giving it our best shot and working on introducing her slowly to the cats. In the meantime, if you happen to stop by for a visit, please be prepared to be pounced on and pummeled repeatedly by a swiftly wagging tail. And if anyone knows how to curb the desire to pounce, please let me know ASAP!