Demir never had a pet growing up. We adopted kittens when we were newly married (Thelma and Louise), and he developed allergies almost immediately. We had fish, and every time one died, he considered it proof that we should not own pets again. Ever.
Enter Capone, my son’s surprise 14th birthday gift and the sweetest puppy ever – about 90% of the time. The other 10% he’s a nippy, crazy, shoe-obsessed little pooping machine.
My husband loves dogs, especially when they belong to other people, but Capone was irresistible. He fell instantly in love.
“Look at his paws,” he said. “He’s going to be big.”
He inspected the paws a bit closer. “Really big.”
He tilted his head to one side, a gesture surprisingly reminiscent of Capone. “How big exactly?”
“Bigger than a bread box and smaller than a young horse. Probably.”
Capone proceeded to be an angel most of the night. Other than a few shoe thefts, he was on his very best behavior. He put on a very good show - sleeping by he fire, cuddling with the boys, playing with my husband.
"He's perfect," he said.
There were adjustments, of course. The floors were completely bare, but every surface of our house was covered with a random and miscellaneous collection of hats, gloves, laundry, books, wine, and anything we didn’t want Capone to eat. There were a lot of things we didn’t want Capone to eat and soon we were running out of surfaces.
Demir had to get used to leaping over the child gate if he wanted to go upstairs, not an easy task when the steps are covered with more things we don’t want Capone to eat. The baby gate is imperative, though. Capone is really good at going upstairs, but downstairs – not so much. He starts out well, but gains speed around the middle and ends up wiping out at the bottom. The gate is a necessary evil until Capone gains a better understanding of the concept of gravity.
Saturday morning Demir woke up at 4 am because he was jet lagged. Capone woke up with him, very happy to oblige. They had a lovely stroll and poop session in the back yard followed by a long and leisurely walk and tug session through the neighborhood. I handed Demir treats and poop bags on his way out the door because I was off to a morning meeting and was throwing him to the wolves. He looked at the poop bags and then at me.
“What are these?”
“In case he poops.”
“What do I do if he poops?”
“Clean it up.”
The look on his face was a combination of outrage and fear. “I didn’t sign up for this.”
“Would you rather leave his poo in someone’s yard?”
They survived the first walk and Capone did not poo. The second day was a little different, but fortunately I was there to take care of matters. Capone chose a bad house and squatted down immediately to poop. If there was a rating system for which neighbors would be the most annoyed at a dog pooping in their front yard, he chose the second worst possible house. And although it was early morning, their lights were already on and I suspected they were watching from their windows. I was too scared to actually look.
My husband used an expletive that had something to do with what Capone was doing at that very moment. It was sort of le mot juste.
“Yep,” I said.
The rest of the walk consisted of Capone either leaping ahead or refusing to move. We finally got to a snowy path through a field, and he happily sniffed around, picking up sticks and prancing around with them. My husband tried to remove the smaller sticks because it looked like Capone was trying to eat them. It was a back and forth of him saying, “Drop it” and Capone refusing to comply.
At one point I was a bit ahead and I heard “No. Drop it.”
Surprisingly, it was followed by a “Good boy,” which meant Capone had actually listened.
That was followed by a panicked sort of yelp, but not from Capone. From my husband. I turned around to see him staring at what Capone had just dropped.
“It’s….it’s….it’s…..” he couldn’t quite get the word out. “A rat. He had a dead frozen rat in his mouth. What do we do?”
I shrugged. It looked more like a dead, frozen field mouse to me. “Keep walking?”
I couldn’t see much of my husband’s face. Most of it was covered with a hood that buttoned around his neck, covering him to the mouth. His eyes spoke volumes.
“Do you want me to take the leash?”
He didn’t have to answer. I gave him the poop bag and he held it as far away from his body as was humanly possible.
“I didn’t sign up for this.”