Adorable puppy changes family dynamic

Published 12:20 pm Friday, October 25, 2013

Column: Things I Tell My Wife, by Matthew Knutson

“No, you don’t seat belt in a puppy,” I told my wife, worried that we had just committed to getting a dog that I’d be raising without the help of my partner.

We’d been considering getting a dog for several months, but just how little experience my wife had with dogs didn’t come up until it was too late to turn back. Sera’s family had two German shepherds when they lived in Kenya named Simba and Nala, but these weren’t pets. They were guard dogs. Her brother had numerous pet animals, but he didn’t get them until after she had left for college. Her previous roommates had cats, but she referred to them as “the ugly one” and “the other one.” It should be becoming clear to you that she’s never been good at liking cute and cuddly animals in anything other than Pinterest photos, but the fact that she wanted to get a dog was signalling some sort of change.

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We began our search a few months ago online by looking at dogs that needed to be adopted. Of course we found one that we wanted, but we ended up leaving empty-handed because she required owners that had previously had the same breed of dog.

When we met Beesly, our new puppy, I knew we were in for a journey that would reveal new sides to our marriage. We’re still discovering those new sides.

Although I’m certain raising a baby and a puppy are fundamentally different, we couldn’t help but feel like new parents that first night. Dare I say proud parents? After falling asleep rather peacefully in her crate, Beesly only needed to be let outside once in the middle of the night before she returned to her blissful rest after five minutes of barking.

“Maybe we actually can do this,” we both thought to ourselves before whispering it out loud to each other. We were too afraid to talk any louder in fear of waking the dog.

Another day passed and Sera and I began to realize that perhaps we had the world’s easiest puppy. Sure, she’d try to chew on things she shouldn’t and wasn’t 100 percent trained to go outside yet, but overall this was frighteningly easier than I had anticipated. I’m really not sure what Sera anticipated.

Perhaps it was easier simply because I wasn’t doing it alone. In the first 24 hours Sera had experienced almost all of the unpleasantness that can accompany a new puppy, yet she only considered bringing her back because “she looks like she misses her siblings” and “we took her from her family!”

Surely we are no dog whisperers. We put up a strong effort to prepare ourselves by watching videos on YouTube and reading a lot of information online about puppy training. Before committing, I even asked my friends on Facebook to tell us every reason not to get a puppy.

What have we learned from the dog?

Patience is important. This pup isn’t just new to us; she’s new to the world. She wants to go to sleep just as much as we want her to; we just need to find the way with the least amount of crying (preferably for all of us).

A dog’s blatant dependence on its owner is a helpful reminder of a marriage commitment. One important part of marriage is putting your spouse ahead of so many other things. As much as I may want to check Tumblr, Beesly needs to be taken care of more.

Doing something that may be difficult with someone you love can make it more worthwhile. Of course puppies are adorable, but there is loss of sleep and stress that accompanies them. Going through these first few puppy-filled days with my wife has made me appreciate her even more.

Sera may not know exactly what she’s doing, and I may not either, but together we’ll figure it out. One day, hopefully, taking care of this puppy will become ordinary to us. As Pam (Beesly) Halpert said in the finale of “The Office”: “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?”


Matthew Knutson is a marketing specialist at Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa. Find him online at