Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I've had writer's block for the past two weeks. Not with the book, thank God, that's still moving forward steadily and rather smoothly. But for the past two weeks I've been wanting to write about my gorgeous little puppy Nalu and unable to do it. To answer the FAQ about her, she is a black pug, her name is a Hawaiian word that means "wave," she will likely grow to be 15-20 pounds, although she's only 3 pounds, 7 ounces at the moment. I can hold her short squat torso with one hand, with her little legs on either side, sometimes running in the air, which I find hilarious.

Although I was prepared to love my little darling, fuss over her, cuddle her, I was not prepared for everyone else in the world to do the same. From little old ladies to small boys, from matrons to my personal favorite, the burly plumbers we met today, Nalu turns everyone into squealing, cooing sweetness, which is delightful to witness. Seeing people love her helps me see the goodness in everyone, the child in everyone, the pure joy that people can emit for a small helpless creature. One woman ran out of her office, another around the corner, just to pet her and fuss over her. Many people have pulled their cars over--Nalu literally stops traffic.

Other surprises about puppyhood include how little I mind picking up her poop. Honestly, it doesn't bother me in the least. I'm pleasantly surprised by the stores of patience I didn't know I had. She can be determined, nippy, crazed, disobedient, and still I'm consistently patient and kind. We had a rough day at the end of week 1, but since then, I've adjusted my expectations (poor Nalu is also the victim of my perfectionism) and things are going much better. "Bless her, change me" is one of my mantras. The other is "calm assertive." That's the attitude Cesar Millan says each owner should have toward their dog. It helps.

Sweet surprises include the excitement of my loved ones, the visits to meet Nalu, the gifts for her, watching her bond with my parents and Carl's parents, meeting lots of neighbors, the support of other dog lovers and owners.

One not-so-sweet surprise is how many people insist on comparing raising a puppy to raising a child. I know that our human minds look everywhere for comparisons, that it's hard-wired in us, and there are some points of similarity, but come on, I'm not starting a college fund for Nalu. She'll be full grown within a year, the hardest part of puppyhood is over quickly, and she can be left home alone for hours at a time without compromising her health or happiness. And though I'm not a parent, I'm pretty sure that none of those things are true for children.

I'm not surprised by how much I love her, but I am surprised by the worry and the guilt. I have flashes of irrational fear of finding her dead in her crate. And if she's alone for more than two hours, I find myself rushing home, anxious to rid myself of the guilt.

This journey with Nalu has just begun, and I'm sure there will be much more to say about it. There's lots more to say right now, which is partly why I was blocked. Getting a puppy is a huge thing for me. I went 32 years without having to be responsible for any other living creature, and now, there is a small animal in my home that relies on me for food, shelter, health care, training, emotional well-being, a creature who cannot be alone for more than a few hours. That's huge for Julie Owsik Ackerman, but I'm getting used to it.

I promise to post pictures soon.


Kooky Carl said...

Ah, now I know why they call it puppy love. We picked Nalu up on a Sunday and I had to work on Monday. That first week was really hard - going to work and knowing you were home taking care of Nalu - I couldn't wait for the day to come to an end. Now its been three weeks and I feel better about leaving Nalu. I know she's adjusted to our home and feels safe and secure.

I really enjoyed reading your blog because you express all the excitement and fears I feel as well.

My favorite part is when Nalu sleeps on my lap. Oh yeah, and the way she smells - fresh puppy scent. Wait, wait, also when she licks my face and wags her tail.

Edgar said...

I can't wait until my cousin gets a little bigger and I can take her to my trails.

sulu-design said...

A surf vacation and a new puppy? Can life be any better? So glad to hear you were up to such fun while I was away. Can't wait to meet the pooch.

Nell said...

I am in complete and utter love with Nalu. When she rested her sweet little head on my boot, I nearly melted. I read a quote recently that made me giggle: Whoever said that money can't buy happiness forgot about puppies.
I can't wait til I see her again!!