Introducing DorkyDog

A chocolate brown poodle puppy looks up at the camera from a grassy lawn

We have been talking about getting a dog for years. Literally years.

We made several trips out to the Hobart Dogs Home. We followed the Facebook Pages for every rescue centre in the state. We asked friends to keep an ear out for local puppers needing a good home.

But the timing never felt quite right. There was always something we had to get out of the way first: an international trip, a busy work spell, visitors coming to stay.

There was also the fact that DorkySon wasn’t really onboard with the idea. He liked the idea of a dog… he liked the We Rate Dogs calendar that sits on his bookshelf… he even liked spending time with other people’s dogs. He just wasn’t quite sure about having one of our own. He believed – quite rightly – that it would be a huge disruption to our calm and ordered way of life.

It didn’t feel fair to force our family of three to become a family of four until everyone was ready. So, we kept talking, kept giving good morning pats to the goodbois and girls we met on the walk to school each morning, and kept waiting until the timing did feel right.

Last year, when DorkyDad was unwell, our dog longing intensified. We often said how nice it would be if he had someone small and warm and wriggly to keep him company during those exhausting, painful days.

But even in our small family of three we wanted very different things. DorkyDad wanted an English Setter puppy. DorkySon wanted a Dalmatian puppy. I didn’t care so much about the breed… but I was sure I wanted an older rescue dog and my absolute line in the sand was that it had to be a girl. I was already outnumbered in the house, and didn’t need any more testosterone added to the mix.

So, we have been going round in circles for months, working out who would compromise, wishing that the perfect doggo would present itself to us.

A fortnight ago, when I was making Saturday morning coffee and using my phone to browse the website of a breeder in Gippsland, she finally did.

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As it turns out, we have all compromised.

She does not have spots. She is not a Setter. And she is not an adult rescue dog.

Luna – an eleven-week-old spoodle who we collected in her crate from Hobart airport last weekend – is not the doggo that any of us had in mind.

But she is here, and she is ours, and we are all four learning to love each other.

*

Having a puppy is every bit as intense and overwhelming as I had imagined. Holy heck, it is so bloody hard. More than one person in this house has cried in the last week, and more than one person has asked what on earth we were thinking. There have been regrets. There have been whispered middle-of-the-night conversations about whether we’ve made a terrible mistake. There has been great effort on my part not to constantly wear my I-told-you-so face.

But there have also, already, been a hundred moments of absolute joy and delight and fun. There have been glimpses of the smart, sweet, beautiful dog that this puppy is going to turn into. And there have been reminders, half-laughing, that one week into new parenthood we were trying to work out if it was possible to hand DorkySon back too.  Sleep deprivation is a powerful thing.

I feel like we made a good decision waiting until DorkySon was really ready for a dog; it would definitely have been a risky move to impose a dog on an unwilling kiddo. Even with his full support and enthusiasm, there has been some disruption this week. He is getting less one-on-one time with me and DorkyDad. He is stepping up and taking on extra chores to help out when our hands are full. For a few nights he moved from his own bedroom into our spare bedroom so he was further away from the howls of a puppy learning how to sleep away from her litter mates. And, having never spent much time around dogs, he is stepping outside of his comfort zone every day as he learns to play with – and care for – little Luna.

It has been a light work week for me, partly due to planning and partly due to luck. That has made it easier to focus on establishing routines. We are settling down more every day, working out how to alternate between playtime and naps, which toys are winners and which treats will buy us five minutes to unload the dishwasher or fold some laundry. Nighttime is already immeasurably easier – DorkyDad has worked some magic there as the official tucker-inner, and Luna walks into her crate without a murmur, sleeping from 9.30pm-6.30am with just one wakeup.

(Thank you God. If she’d kept up the howling and multiple pee trips outside she may have ended up on a plane back to Victoria. I turn into a terrible, terrible person when my sleep is disturbed.)

It is still tiring. We are collapsing into bed each night and this must be the first week in about thirty years when I haven’t managed to read a book. But I think if you’re doing it right the first few weeks with a puppy are supposed to be tiring. There is a level of vigilance required to make sure good habits are created early and that’s not just physically tiring but mentally too.

We are all hopeful that putting in the hard work now will pay off later.

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This won’t turn into a full-on puppy blog. There are other things to write about, and I’m well aware that other people’s dogs are really not that interesting. But I’ll try and post semi-regular updates. I only started writing DorkyMum when DorkySon was two years old, and I’ve often wished I had a record of his early years – that exhausting, emotional, magnificent time when things change more quickly than you can imagine. I don’t want to make the same mistake twice.

I can already tell that there are some lovely parts of puppydom that will pass too soon. Tiny teeth, fear of shadows, growling at her own reflection. The softest of snores at naptime. The waggiest of tails at the sight of my Ugg boots. That curly-haired head cocked to one side at the sound of a galah flying overhead. And the snuggles. Oh goodness, the snuggles.

Right now, though, she is asleep at my feet and I reckon I’ve got another ten minutes tops before it’s time for another snuffle around the garden.

Time to hit publish. Do some physio. Make a cup of tea.

And then off we go again.

Twelve

Two figures walking on a beach

 

“Eleven sucked,” says DorkySon.

“Eleven sucks for everyone,” DorkyDad and I say simultaneously.

We laugh at this, sitting around the table after DorkySon has finished eating the birthday meal he requested – pasta followed by red velvet cake. There is an element of truth in our response. Eleven really is a tricky age; one when you are pulled back to childhood one moment and propelled forward to your teens the next. Continue reading

The one where DorkyDad publishes a book…

The cover of the poetry book 'Slow Walk Home' by Young Dawkins

This isn’t so much a blog post as it is a wee boast…

With everything else DorkyDad had going on last year, he could have been forgiven for not putting pen to paper even once.

But somehow in among it all he found time and energy to pull together a full-length poetry manuscript and – joy of joys – it was accepted for publication.

Slow Walk Home is now available from Red Squirrel Press – a fabulous Scottish publisher. Continue reading

Summer/We Did It

A man standing overlooking the Neck at Bruny Island

We are nearing the end of January, well past the midpoint of summer. It has been a subdued one, really. Cool and damp and much quieter than usual. There have been a couple of days when the temperature has tipped into the thirties; on those afternoons we have sat out in the Adirondack chairs, letting the warmth penetrate deep into our bones. But not once have we hit the switch that turns winter’s heat pump into summer’s aircon. Nor have we removed the woollen blanket from our bed, or had a day when we have braved the water at Long Beach. Continue reading

On

Alright. There is frailness

in all our music.

Sometimes we’re broken

and it’s lost.

Sometimes we forget

for years it’s even in us, heads

filled with burdens and smoke.

And sometimes we’ve held

to it and it’s there,

waiting to break out,

walking back from the end.

 

“In Memory of George Lewis” – Lou Lipsitz

 

*

We were living our best lives, and we knew it.

We have always communicated well, DorkyMum and me. There was so much talk between us in the earliest days and nights, sounding out every reason our relationship couldn’t possibly last and, then, deciding that nothing else we could ever imagine mattered as much as the two of us and how we felt next to each other.

All in.

It has not always been easy. Real life never is. But now we found ourselves living on a windswept island far away at the edge of the world, a place almost too beautiful for words. Our son was continuing to astound us with his inherent kindness, his infectious laugh, his keenness for learning, words and books.

All the food we ate and the wine we drank was produced locally. We were living in a tall, rambling house with room for everything. Our closest friends from Scotland – and DorkySon’s Godfather – had miraculously moved to the same island and now lived just a half day’s drive to the north. We were both working from home, setting our own hours and making enough money to keep it all sweet.

This is our life, we said to each other. This is who we are and what we will be.

We were deeply, deeply happy. Continue reading