I have always been a dog person and although I didn’t grow up with a dog, the second I could get one I did.
My first dog was an English bulldog named Frank who I shared with my ex-boyfriend Tim. Frank was 55 pounds of pure mush – all he wanted to do was eat, nap and love his humans. Unfortunately Frank’s life was cut short by a congenital heart condition, and when Tim and I decided to part ways, we shared custody of the dog (he used to send Frank to me to Manhattan from Connecticut via his own driver which is hysterical now that I think about it) but I realized I needed my own full-time pet, so I adopted a French bulldog, a similar but smaller breed.
I chose a Frenchie because one had come up to me the prior year at the dog park one day, proceeded to sit on my feet, immediately fell asleep and loudly snored for 20 minutes. I knew at that moment this was the breed for me.
That’s when Charlie entered my life. Charlie was the most stubborn and affectionate dog on the planet. He followed me wherever I went, including the shower. (There was not one time that I ever took a shower and he was not faithfully sitting on the bathmat waiting for me to emerge.) Charlie was food motivated and I definitely overindulged him – meaning he was fat. He made me laugh every single day. He was also an incredible companion when times were tough. I really do believe that dogs have an acute sense when their owners are upset.
There were two times during Charlie’s 10 years with me when he was by my side unconditionally – when my mom died of cancer and when my live-in boyfriend (a guy who was not a dog person at all – a huge red flag in hindsight) suddenly ended our relationship, started dating one of our mutual friends immediately afterwards (you can fill in the blanks) and I had to quickly find a new home. Charlie was truly woman’s best friend. He had epilepsy for most of his life, which was managed by meds but eventually his condition worsened. He passed away at home in his sleep in June.
And that leads me to the present day. Very soon after Charlie died, I contacted the breeder from where he came and let them know that I was looking for another dog. I knew that especially with working from home and the pandemic, I wanted another Frenchie as soon as possible. They are such great companions especially when you live in an apartment.
On July 24, Lucy (named after my late mom) arrived by puppy transport van from Oklahoma to New York City. She was tiny, weighing 5 pounds. She looked like a gerbil, not a puppy, when they took her out of the van. It took her about a day to get comfortable in NYC and then she enjoyed exploring, sniffing around and enjoying her new toys and surroundings.
The last month with Lulu has been nothing short of amazing. She never fails to put a smile on my face, yet she is completely exhausting. I had forgotten how much work puppies are. She wants to play all of the time. She sleeps on my head. She is a little space heater. She loves socks. She hogs the covers. She hops around like a bunny. She has the sharpest little teeth, which I call piranha teeth.
No matter how many chew toys I get her, her favorite chew toy unfortunately are my fingers. She loves other dogs and people but she can’t go out on the street yet, so I have been carrying her around in a dog baby Bjorn, which definitely makes my friends laugh and makes strangers give me a second look. But guess what, I don’t care. I’m embracing my new dog mom role especially after just losing my beloved Charlie.
Lucy is such a diva in some ways – she is very high maintenance with her food. When she arrived, she had a parasite (common for puppies) and her vet had me put her on a chicken and rice diet. Well guess what? Now she only wants to eat rotisserie chicken from Whole Foods LOL. So my job is to go to Whole Foods a few times a week and buy this fancy dog her fancy chicken. But I really don’t mind as she is so sweet, provides endless hours of entertainment and I love seeing the world through her eyes.
Getting a puppy has taught me so much about patience, slowing down and enjoying the moment. I’m so thankful to have this time with her while I’m working from home. When I got Charlie, I was working at an incredibly demanding job at Sullivan & Cromwell, and I was barely home. I’m trying to properly train her and speaking of that, one of the funniest things that happened to me over the past year occurred the other day.
It’s a little difficult to find a dog trainer right now or enroll your dog in a puppy obedience class with other dogs due to the pandemic, so I took a shot in enrolling her in a virtual puppy training class over Zoom. Let’s just say it was a complete and total disaster. Imagine 15 puppies running around their homes with an instructor trying to give the puppies and their owners commands to try. I have trouble getting groups of lawyers to pay attention to me over Zoom, let alone my three-month-old rambunctious puppy, who is not in the least bit interested in paying attention to anything but her lamb toy, treats and chewing on my coffee table.
I really had to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation as well as the entire past six months and all that we’ve tried to do to find some sense of normalcy in a time that is anything but normal. I can’t wait for the day when Lucy is able to be in a regular class with other puppies. And let’s just say that obedience training isn’t going so well, but I will continue to read everything I can and reward this nugget for good behavior.
I’m currently in the process of packing up my apartment as we get ready to move, and Lucy is not happy about me not giving her my undivided attention. Every time I try to pack up a box, she barks at me and tries to play. It makes me laugh. So let’s just say that the packing process has not been that productive as I take constant breaks to play with her.
Puppies require constant care and attention, as well as patience. Puppies have accidents. I don’t sleep as much as I used to or have as much free time. I have to keep one eye on her while juggling the demands of my clients and managing a very busy workload. I am also navigating a major move, making sure my loved ones are happy and squeezing in some time for self-care (thank god I have a Peloton at home, which by the way, Lucy does not like one bit because I am not focused on her when I am spinning).
I’ve spent a good part of the summer in Connecticut with my dear friends Chris and Jill who moved there at the beginning of June. It’s been great for Lucy to have the ability to run around their backyard and experience grass for the first time. They have a 14-year-old cranky old lady dog who Lucy tries to win over without any success. It’s really fun to watch though.
All this being said, I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. In my opinion, dogs are the most wonderful companions in the world. Well besides a significant other, of course. They provide unconditional love and support and brighten every day. They are loyal, entertaining, give you reasons to get out of the house and exercise, and make conversations with others. Countless studies say that pet owners are happier people in general. Yes, puppies are a lot of work but they are well worth it.
Happy National Dog Day to all the dog moms and dads out there. Wish me luck with Lucy, you will see a lot more of her on the blog (you can follow her on Instagram at @lucyfrenchbulldognyc).