Over a month ago, my kids launched a sneak attack on me to get a puppy.
“Finn (our two and a 1/2-year-old Jack Russell) needs a playmate.” “We are in quarantine! We will all be around to potty train.””It’s spring, a perfect time of year.”
Truthfully, I didn’t want a puppy. I love puppies. I mean, who doesn’t? But Finn was finally grown up and trained and could be left alone for extended amounts of time. He is fully respectful of the invisible fence boundaries on our property. He rides calmly and waits in the car alone without feeling compelled to chew up the interior if I have to run a quick errand. He shares my passion for hiking and my “let’s keep going” attitude.
The kids ganged up on me, and I had to admit their persuasive arguments were pretty solid. I grudgingly said yes, because they promised to take on the majority of the puppy stuff.
During a pandemic, shopping for a puppy online is the only option. The kids found a 5-week-old Jack Russell puppy named Ninja, 4 hours away in Pennsylvania. We all agreed he was “the one.”
When I dropped the deposit in the mail, I realized I had only three more weeks to enjoy sleeping through the night and come and go from my house without lining up a puppy-sitter. Then the realization hit that I had to stock up on paper towels (puppies make lots of little accidents…everywhere!) in a world where paper goods were now both scarce and limited to one per customer.
The countdown to pick-up day felt like the news of an unexpected pregnancy. Life as I knew it was about to unravel.
We kept Ninja’s reveal under wraps and spent day after day tossing around puppy names as we waited. There was one vote to keep the name Ninja. It wasn’t mine. I always liked watching a puppy in action first, then finding a name that fits.
Our little guy was adorable and did not disappoint. Sleepless nights, crying to be held, refusing his crate, peeing on the floor, chewing everything he could reach and making us bleed with his sharp baby teeth. He was cute and cuddly and had the sweetest puppy breath too! And every single day, he had a different name.
It wasn’t bad enough that five of us were all trying to pitch our favorite names, but then we started asking friends and family for their opinions. Not smart, because everyone liked something different. The favorites were Monkey, Nugget, Bentley, King, and Harley. For an entire month, we called him all of those plus Puppy too.
The first vet appointment he was Puppy. After that, we worked on liking the name Bentley. It wasn’t a good fit and we liked it even less when our dog groomer said everyone names their dog Bentley. Next! John continued to call him Monkey. Cute, but no. I loved Spike, but when my in-laws met him, Grandpa dubbed him Harley. So for days, everyone called him Harley. I tried, but it never rolled off my tongue.
Last week he went back to the vet as Harley. Social distancing at the veterinary clinic looks like this. You pull into a parking space, call the receptionist from your cell phone, tell them your parking space number and the patient’s name.
“Good Morning!” I beamed as the gal answered. “This is Susan Wheeler in space number seven. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I don’t care! Harley is here for his shots, but please change his name to Spike on your records. You can write that in pen. Thank you!”
So for the next 15 to 20 years, God willing, “Spike” will be part of our daily vocabulary. The debate is over. Puppy has a name.
Cheers to our little man Spike!