No, I am not pregnant (that factory closed 8.75 years ago). My third child’s name is Truffle. And he’s technically not a child but a canine. But like Chloe and Sophie, he demands much of my time, attention and affection.
If you had asked me a couple of years ago whether I’d ever write about a dog in a loving and maternal way, I would have laughed you out of my house. But look who’s eating crow now.
Truffle unknowingly makes me feel guilty when I ignore or berate him. He follows me like a shadow and sometimes makes Sophie a little jealous when I focus on him and not her. “Mom, that’s not fair! You’re feeding Truffle before you feed me!” Does the addition of Truffle to our family make Sophie a middle child? Although Truffle doesn’t attend pre-K and will never be a college graduate, in the 10 short months of his life so far, we’ve spent more money on private training and obedience school than I care to admit.Truffle is my toddler with four legs. He doesn’t wear diapers but he requires an endless supply of poop bags. He wasn’t potty-trained to go on a toilet, but instead prefers the mulch in our backyard. Like a toddler, he tries my patience, makes me laugh and sometimes causes me to yell. He’s a selective listener. He gleefully struts around naked, just like my girls when they were little. He doesn’t cry, but his bark is a lot more grating than toddler tears. He jumps on furniture, encouraged by Sophie, who also jumps on furniture. He doesn’t always nap when I’d like him to nap. He squirms when I try to clean his ears or brush his fur.
The anticipation of him looking like a bizarre mix of mole rat and shorn sheep made me sadder than any rational person should be. He is happy and healthy, after all, which is what we all want most for our kids and canine companions. I mentally prepared as I entered the groomer’s shop to pick him up. You need to be his cheerleader, I repeated to myself. You need to boost his morale by telling him what a handsome and good boy he is. You must play your part as best you can, and your husband and the girls will do their best, too. After all, isn’t that what family is for?Much to my chagrin, Truffle had to be shaved down today because, despite our best efforts, his puppy coat and his nascent adult coat were at war with each other. And the cone he sported for two weeks after his neuter surgery turned his neck and chin into a vortex of knots. A dog lover advised me to make sure we shield Truffle from any distaste we might feel for the way he looks post-shave; otherwise, he will sense that something’s not right.
Truffle finally came bounding out from behind the counter. At first I didn’t recognize him. But then I caught a glimpse of his eyes. And his wagging tail. And it didn’t matter that he looked like a creature from outer space, albeit an extremely cute creature from outer space, with adorable markings to boot. Because underneath the pounds of shorn fur, he’s still Super Truffle, our adorable puppy.
Actually, Truffle reminds me of the resilient lamb in Pixar’s Boundin‘ cartoon, minus the hooves. An aside: Boundin’ is one of my all-time favorite Pixar shorts – you can check it out here.
Our groomer – hero of the day for saving more fur than I thought he’d be able to save – now has Truffle and me on a schedule, so that we can nip any future matting fiascoes in the bud.
And since Truffle’s coat is so short for the summer, I may just have to invest in a baby pool for him to romp around in. Because he’ll love it and we’ll love watching him love it. And that’s what parenting is all about.