Say hi to my new addition to the little family of one: Nellie the bichon frise. Sounds fancy, right? Well, she certainly thinks so. She’s a little princess. We’re working on getting her to eat anything but her favorite cheese. Bacon mixed with her (oh-so-boring) dog food was mildly successful.

Nellie playing

Nellie is my parents’ dog – one of them. She arrived here care of my awesome neighbor Friday night. She was in cars, planes, trains, and automobiles before arriving at her new home. I’ve been thinking about getting a dog for awhile. Yeah, part of it was due to the breakup, but a lot of it wasn’t. I love dogs; I’ve always loved dogs; they brighten every day. But I wasn’t sure if I could really handle one right now. I have no one else to care for one, I’m at work most of the day. It’s a big change. I thought about it, talked with friends and family about it, and my parents came up with the brilliant idea of doing a trial run with Nellie. She is relatively trained, knows me, and is pretty adaptable, having come to my parents through adoption a couple years ago. And it would be nice to have a dog ready to greet me after work, take on walks, chill out with. Be goofy.

So I went out and assessed local areas, parks, dog licenses, the nearest animal hospital, potential dog-walkers. Bought a bed, crate, leash, the works. So here she is, curled up in my lap as I type this.

Friday night was a bit nuts. Exciting, but nuts. I left work and took the metro to the airport to meet my neighbor and Nellie. He had her all set up in a carrier and walked her through the madness of airport security, then kept her calm throughout the ride, under the seat in front of him. I’ve totally had a crush on Imeanwhat been fascinated by this neighbor since we met. So like…over five years. Maybe ten. He’s a cool dude. And awesome for dealing with her and basically flying down on a whim. We found a place for Nellie to get out and run around for a bit – and that freedom was all she needed to glare at me when I needed to put her back in her crate. Metro has rules, princess. So we get her/his stuff, get on the metro, transfer, get on another metro, and finally get a cab to my apartment and let her explore her new home. As thanks, I take neighbor out to dinner across the street and it is so crowded I never hear my phone. We got caught up talking until dog-mom kicked it into high gear and we went back. I checked my phone: 2 voicemails from the front desk, about complaints from my neighbors about her barking. So, we should have gotten take-out? Too late now. Cringing, I call back and explain, yes, I have a new dog, and yes, I’m home now, and yes, I’m fine and she’s fine. Apparently my neighbors were worried about me. Wow.My closet makes for a nice bed?

Friday night she slept with me, though whined through half the night for mom and dad. I think I picked this up from our other dog – any time Nellie felt like she was going to jump off the bed, or did jump, I was like a spring, jumping out and getting her back. Our other dog uses this as a good time to leave a mess on the carpet. So it’s practically become a reflex when in the vicinity of one of my dogs. Saturday we were up and at ’em by 8:30 (thanks, dear, for the sleep and sleeping in) and it was a dog day. My neighbor went out on what wound up being a quick touristy-turned-wild-goose-chase to meet with friends and a potential client. Employer? Client. I think. Nellie, at some point, decided that the bottom of my cluttered closet made for a nice place to nap.

I admit, I nearly gave up. I get really freaked out by people complaining, and  wasn’t sure this would work. It’s a lot less space than she’s used to, a lot more crate-time. I freaked. I called my parents. I was almost ready to get her ready to send back home with my neighbor when he left. But, this is new for both of us. People will complain. She will or will not bark. I decided to see how she did, do everything I could to pacify all.

Nellie exploring

I took her outside to learn the lay of her new kingdom, which we explored for over an hour and a half. She is well aware she is the princess. After that I did some bark collar testing, which consisted of trying various things (leave her in the crate, leave her outside the crate, turn the TV on) and waiting in the hallway for a few minutes. Whining was persistent but there was less barking. Still, not quite ready. So we settled down and watched TV together for awhile. I wrote 5 notes for my 5 nearest neighbors, thanking them for their patience as I got my new dog settled in. I placed these in ziplocs, with 2 pieces of chocolate in them. A little while later, I got a knock on my door. Bracing, I opened it, and one of my wall-neighbors said hi, met Nellie, introduced herself, and offered me some chocolate in return. I was a little taken aback – they weren’t meant to be reciprocative? And she said she hadn’t heard anything, and that she was usually home between 4pm and night and if I needed someone to take Nellie out….just wow. Success. Yes? Yes.

We made dinner that night, with some flourishes thrown in by my neighbor. I can bake. I am still learning cooking. It was delicious. Evenings were consumed by movies, talking, and carrying miss Nellie like a rag doll to my bed, where – ideally – she would stay while I brushed my teeth and got ready for bed. So, after I dragged her off neighbor’s bed, we had a much more pleasant night’s sleep. She slept next to me, let me snooze until 10:30 – awesome awesome. Sunday was more adventure-time for neighbor, more dog-time for me. I got some fabulous advice from a friend of mine in vet school who has several dogs, and after walking the neighbor to the metro (Nellie was pretty psyched), I dropped her at home – with the bark collar – and ran to find “rescue remedy” to help calm her down when I was away. She hates the bark collar – and the crate – with a passion. A very excellent guilt-tripping passion. With enough testing and some drops of rescue remedy, I thought I could go out to meet neighbor’s friend and catch the best part of the Superbowl – the halftime show and the ads. 😉 She actually stood up and put her paws on my chest when I leaned down to help her into her crate. Like, “stop, mom.” Killed me. I gave her extra kisses and went out – my phone on loud. This was the test. Because come Monday work calls. We found a quiet bar a few stops away, caught the game (which was only a game in the second half, c’mon guys) and Beyonce’s show. And the power outage. And the ads. And I was hyper-aware of anything happening with my phone. But nothing ever did. My neighbor and I got back and as soon as we got off the elevator, took our hats off and listened.

We listened.

And it was silent.

Success! Wait…what’s that on my door? A yellow post-it? Uh oh.

I sighed, and read the note. This is what it said, from the across-neighbors:

Thank you for the sweets. We are glad to know that everything is fine with you and the dog as we were worried for you. We hope the dog settles well in the new home. Good luck. <names, apt.>

And Nellie was thrilled to see us.

watching West Wing

So, this morning I went to work, leaving my neighbor to take care of her and catch his plane, came home early to work and take her out, and all, for the moment, seems to be well. Almost. She hasn’t been eating much at all. But we gather she’s being picky. I did manage to coax some into her. Hopefully in the next few days she’ll sigh and resign herself to eating actual dog food down here. And we will watch TV. And go for walks. And play. And for now, just be. Like, right now if she can’t be on my lap she’d rather sleep in the small space between my chair and my desk than behind me in her dog bed. D’awwww.

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