By: Shannon Ralph
Puppies are adorable. They are cute and cuddly. They are little four-legged, round-bellied, wrinkly lumps of love.
At least in theory.
In reality, as my daughter and I came to learn last night, puppies can be quite a pain in the ass—or, more literally speaking, a pain the fingers and toes.
Yesterday, Sophie and I found ourselves in the unusual position of having an evening alone together. Ruanita was working until midnight, so I was poised for another night of single parenting bliss. With a heat index of 100 degrees, we would be trapped indoors. My night was looking like a veritable cornucopia of pleasure—laundry, fish sticks, dishes, and arguments over the iPad, DS, television, Wii, and cell phone. My excitement level was through the roof, as you can imagine, when a phone call put a sudden wrinkle in my planned evening of euphoric domesticity. My mom invited the boys to spend the night with her.
There it was. My escape! My Hail Mary Pass! My Calgon-Take-Me-Away moment!
did a little jig right there in my living room braced myself against the maternal longing to have my children near and elatedly reluctantly agreed to part with the boys for the evening, leaving Sophie and I the rare opportunity for a mother/daughter date night.
What to do….what to do….?
The possibilities were endless. We could go get pedicures. We could go to a movie. We could go to Yogurt Lab and fill up on toppings galore. We could go to the Mall (this momma likes to shop and hadn’t been to the mall in months and months). Oooh…and there is a Long John Silvers in the food court at the mall! My night was definitely looking up!
I asked Sophie—because, you know, it was all about her—where she wanted to go for our mother/daughter date night (hinting heavily at a fried food orgy at the gargantuan Mall of America). My daughter would have no part of it. I even offered her a trip to the American Girl Doll store. (Why the hell can’t my daughter play with dolls like other girls her age??) She couldn’t be swayed. She simply did not want to go to the mall.
Instead, my daughter batted her long eyelashes, smiled the sweetest little smile her seven-year-old facial muscles could muster, and asked me to please, please, please take her to the Humane Society to see the puppies and kitties.
So rather than domestic (air-conditioned) bliss, we spent the evening in the smelly kennel area of the Golden Valley Humane Society. Though the adoption center is air conditioned, the runs where they keep the dogs are not. Despite the roar of multiple fans, it was pretty damn hot in there. And the heat intensified the smell, which needed little inflation to knock an adult woman to her knees.
Luckily, we did not spend much time in the kennel area. Rather, we took individual pets to the personal “play” rooms that the Humane Society has. Basically, glorified closets with benches to play with the animals and get a feel for them prior to choosing a pet to adopt.
Sophie was immediately drawn to one of two bulldog puppies. A pudgy little brown and white female named Jane. I have to admit she was pretty dang adorable. All belly and wrinkles. She was just barely eight weeks old, so had probably just been separated from her mother. And she was a ball of energy that Sophie was in no way prepared for.
Jane chased Sophie. Jane jumped on Sophie. Jane nipped at Sophie—her legs, her toes, her finger. And Jane had tiny razor-sharp teeth that Sophie was not expecting. Jane was nothing short of canine hell on wheels—er, paws.
too damn long brief visit with Jane ended with Sophie in tears, cradling a red, punctured hand against her chest and me trying unsuccessfully to contain a wiggly nine-pound pooch who had, by the way, peed in the corner of our small closet playroom and proceeded to prance through it while attacking my daughter. And did I mention that she chewed on my favorite Keen sandals—an unforgivable offense no matter how cute you are!
We played with a few more dogs, including a beautifully docile and cuddly three-month-old Coonhound puppy named Bree. She was a doll and I would have taken her home in a skinny minute had I not known full well that Ruanita would have kicked me, Sophie, and the dog out on the streets. The thought of sharing a cardboard box with Sophie and a Coonhound didn’t really appeal to me, so we said a sad farewell to Bree and all the other malodorous mutts at the Humane Society.
Did I get Long John Silvers for dinner? Nope. Sophie won that debate, too, and we ended up at her favorite dinner joint—Carbone’s.
Despite the date night itinerary that would certainly not have been my first choice for a free evening, we had a wonderful time. My daughter is one amazing little girl with feelings and ideas and opinions that are so quintessentially “Sophie” it takes my breath away. Last night was one of those a-ha moments that happen in parenthood. One of those moments where you find yourself drawn out of your usual domestic drudgery and see your child. I mean really see your child. I saw Sophie last night in all of her seven-year-old awkward, beautiful, shy, giggly, independent, tender, clumsy, needy, intelligent, engaging glory.
I am one damn lucky momma!