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Small Talk: Rain, cats and dogs

Thinking I was being ever-so-gracious, in a weak moment I asked my daughter if she would like to foster a dog (that being a dog, single, one, uno) during the stay-at-home order. By the by, she and her husband share our home and they already own three cats.

She, without a shred of shame, admitted she had already signed up at three different local shelters for that very thing and was bringing home a dog next week. That one fell through. Just as well, I thought, and rather forgot all about it until she casually mentioned she was off to pick up a pair of puppies. They needed to be in pairs for companionship and comfort, it seems.

I steeled myself for two and off she went. She brought home three. (Yes, she has always been spoiled.) Suddenly having multiple 8-week-old puppies in the house made me even more impressed by parents of twins or triplets. There is never a moment when something isn’t happening with one or more of them. Add to this the pups are traumatized, fearful, only occasionally house-trained and have traveled across at least two time zones. It was a full-on fire drill of cuteness right from the start.

Fortunately, my house is 98% wood floors. There is one carpet at the far end of the scarcely used living room. It took them about an hour to find it and christen it.

My daughter kept them upstairs mostly, yet successfully away from her cats for two days, which I liken to juggling with knives. She took pains to introduce them slowly. Unfortunately, one pup was particularly nervous and protective and barked at his shadow … and the cats. The cats have coexisted with older dogs before, but not bouncing, barking balls of puppy. They were not thrilled and the high-strung pup earned some crate time.

Meanwhile, our large backyard, which was to be their playground, is an inch deep in water, courtesy of the week-long rainstorm. The trio finally agreed to walk around in the damp. They would not, however, go outside if it was actually raining, which was most of the time. I swore to my daughter she was going to have to deal with any accidents, but of course, I was swiftly recruited, since there was triple the action. There was no way one person could clean up fast enough before another critter needed attention.

As we moved into the fourth day, they seemed to be settling a little and getting their puppy courage up, but life remained pretty terrifying, what with all these new sounds, smells, people and schedules. My biggest challenge? I couldn’t give them any treats. All they are allowed to eat is their kibble, which intellectually I understand. But it killed me to see those big, brown eyes in that sweet puppy face, gazing longingly at my sandwich, and deny them so much as a morsel. Using great moral resolve, I behaved myself, but it was no fun.

The pups are back at the shelter now, needing further medical attention, but it was a lovely, crazy bit of fuzz therapy.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer who was living in Wild Kingdom armed only with a roll of paper towels. Contact her at [email protected].