Balancing the Toddler and the Puppy

Chris came down with the stomach flu while at the vet with Ozzie on Monday. Sadly, Chris had to manage through the illness mostly on his own while I managed puppy and toddler. Still, he was around the house in a pinch. Chris returned to work yesterday afternoon and so it was my first taste of a six-hour stretch alone with both a toddler and a puppy. When Josh and I first got home (he had school in the morning and we stopped by the library on the way home), it was 1:00 pm. I planned to have us all play in the backyard because Josh already had his snowsuit on. Ozzie kept stealing Josh’s little red shovel and knocking Josh over in the snow. Josh just stood there and cried. It wasn’t any fun and I realized Josh must be overly tired (he usually doesn’t nap until 2 pm), so I gave up and we went inside. I kenneled Ozzie in his main level kennel and went upstairs to put Josh down for his nap. Ozzie, of course, cried the whole time I was upstairs putting Josh down. Then I went downstairs to have lunch and feed Ozzie. Ozzie was so starved for attention though that he started to bark again. While I was on the floor giving Ozzie love and attention, Josh woke up after having slept for only 20 minutes. I popped Ozzie back in the kennel and went back upstairs to try and get Josh back to sleep. He nursed again, but was still fully awake and so we read all of his 11 library books. He was still wide awake. Of course, the whole time, Ozzie was yelping. I think that Josh can hear those yelps pretty good, even with his hearing aids out! I just gave up on the nap and brought Josh downstairs where he ate a very little lunch (stomach is still not back to capacity yet post-flu). We then all played on the floor for a little while, but Ozzie’s wildness overwhelms Josh. (Josh was just diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder on the day before we picked up Ozzie, which I think makes the dog very difficult to handle for him–the noises and the wet mouth touching him, even the texture of his fur).

As a last resort, I bundled Josh back up in his red snowsuit, complete with hat, wool scarf, and thick mittens–it’s very cold here this week) and I put the leash on Ozzie, which I then attached to the stroller, while still holding the leash in one hand. And I pushed the stroller, mostly one-handed, along sidewalks that were not always shoveled. I was wishing I had a stroller with skis on the bottom instead of wheels. Do you think they make such things? Ozzie is doing very well on the leash and, for the most part, walked on the right side of the stroller the whole time. Towards the end of the walk, Ozzie grew tired and cold, so I placed him in the basket at the bottom of the stroller and gave him a lift the last block or so. It was a pretty funny site. Sometimes, I wish there were someone around to take pictures of my crazy days.

When returned home, it was almost 4:00 pm. Josh wanted to play in the garage and I washed Ozzie’s feet in a bucket of warm water in the garage. Ozzie’s little white feet were filthy! When we finally went inside, Ozzie was ready to lay down and sleep in his spot next to my chair. Josh then decided Ozzie wasn’t too threatening. He found a green leather bracelet in one of my craft (aka crap) drawers and wanted me to put it on him, which I did. He then sat down in front of a sleeping Ozzie, pointing to his bracelet saying “See, bracelet. See, bracelet.” I realized that Josh views Ozzie as another rational person who should fully understand language. I have to work on this and find away to let Josh know that Ozzie is a baby dog. And I know that Ozzie just wants to love Josh and play with Josh–Josh just doesn’t recognize Ozzie’s actions as play.  So, the challenge is to translate puppy and toddler language between the two little ones.

Whew! What a day. I learned some things, I think. First of all, Ozzie’s daytime kennel needs to go to the basement so that he doesn’t wake Josh up during his nap. (Ozzie has a kennel in our room for sleeping at night and doesn’t cry in that kennel at all because he can see us, I suppose). Second, I need to make sure I always spend at least 10-15 minutes playing with Ozzie when we get home (what to do though when Josh just wants to go down for his nap; this would be easier if Josh were weaned and I could just stick him in bed) and probably not outside. Ozzie wants physical attention not playtime outside. I am thinking that if Ozzie is in the basement in his kennel, I’ll maybe just leave him there until I finally get Josh down for his nap and then take Ozzie up to the main level of our house and play with him intensely for a while. Third, I really need to find a sled that I can push. Winter walks are going to be essential. I also need better mittens for Josh. What is it with toddler mittens? They are so hard to get on and keep on little hands.

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  1. Oh my! I can relate to this post. I’m afraid we didn’t do a very good job training Maple, because I just couldn’t keep up with it all. We all LOVE Maple and she is so much fun, but right now I think that she is eating a Christmas ornament. Oh well, she keeps me unattached to things!

  2. Julie Coleman said:

    Wow, Heidi, what a challenge to balance a toddler and a puppy, especially during a Minnesota winter!

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