For years, I’ve wanted to own a dog – as an adult – in order to experience for myself the joys and rewards of canine companionship known to so many others. Bringing this little guy, our sweet, sweet Coco, into our lives has been a revelation. A challenge, yes. Great frustration at times? Most certainly. Regret? If I’m honest, yeah, once in awhile.

He, however, gives us so much in return for our trouble. Like a bucking bronco, he tears up the living room, his exhilaration palpable as, one by one, he trots out each of his growing collection of toys as Bill and I go about our morning preparations. We delight at his antics, his simple puppy gestures, his whimpers and growls, his wagging tail, his dark eyes and black button nose, his soft wavy coat, his cherubic countenance as he (at last!) curls up for a mid-morning nap and most of all, his love and devotion to us – his supremely lucky humans.

Puppyhood is likely not for everyone and I’ll be both grateful and sad when he sheds his youthful exuberance for a more stately and dignified – restful – manner. Every day brings new smiles and laughter and a deepening appreciation for the happiness and glee he provides. I can only hope he is as pleased to have us in his life as we are that he is a part of ours.

Our lives are about to change.

In just a few days, we are bringing home a new puppy, a nine-week-old cockapoo male who paraded, with a most princely demeanor, for us when we drove to the breeder’s a week and a half ago to make our selection.

I am terrified.

OK. Terrified might be overstating things a tad. But I do seesaw between bouts of elation and grave concerns of ‘what are we getting ourselves into’. Since my 20’s, I’ve wanted a dog. I pored over library books and dog magazines describing, with delightful glossy photos and charming details, all the various breeds and imagined myself and my new best friend hiking through the woods or curled up in a comfy chair as I read, scratching its lovely ears, rubbing its belly, basking in its unconditional love. Which one suited me best? Always (and still!), I find myself drawn to the big guys: Great Danes, Weimaraners, Labrador Retrievers, Airedale Terriers. I adore Bulldogs, Basset Hounds, Bernese Mountain Dogs and, surprisingly of late, Pugs. Jack Russells, I love you too!

When I retired a year ago, getting a puppy was on my To Do list. After a period of time acclimating to my newfound freedom, I am finally ready to take the plunge into puppyhood – and beyond. Getting hubs on board was also a consideration… I’m happy to report he is, while maybe not as enthusiastically as I am, ‘all in’. He even offered last night to take the day off after we bring puppy home. How sweet is that?

There are sure to be frustrations and aggravations. My goal is to provide the required (and necessary) firm but gentle guidance with a backdrop of calm and stress-free, or as best as I can manage. Coco and I will have our days to ourselves while Bill slaves away at the office and with that, all the time we’ll need to get to know each other, establish solid routines, long walks and backyard training sessions. Oh, but I aim for a well-mannered doogie!!

Sigh.

‘Tis what I strive for anyway. That’s where the ‘terror’ comes in. Can I do this? Do I possess the necessary patience and positivity? And if not, can I cultivate it from somewhere deep within me knowing that it’s what’s best for Coco and, ultimately, for me and for us as well. I’m straying here a bit now from the canine and delving into the heart of desirable human attributes. Will owning and loving a dog make me a better person? I don’t know (yet) the answer to that question but I’m betting that it will. Oh. And from a practical perspective, I’m hoping, too, that the messes and late night treks to the backyard and garfed up shoes and shredded toilet paper will be a minutely small price to pay for those dark eyes of his and his black button nose.

Wish me well, please. I think I’m going to need it.