Training for the Iditarod

Photograph by Alaska Stock Images

We have a dog, or at least what we think is a dog. When we bought her, in the boonies of rural Warner Robins, Georgia, the woman outside Petsmart told us she was a husky. At this point in the story it bears mentioning that our fur-baby was the last puppy left of the day. She was flopped down with all four legs and tongue splayed out when we stumbled upon her. The woman told us if we took her she would only charge 20 bucks, so we left with what we would from then on refer to as our “Clearance Puppy.”

Clearance Puppy is now five years old and much bigger, except her legs never really grew in proportion to her barrel sized body so she kinda looks like a huge corgi. One ear doesn’t really work so it flops over. Oh, and her front legs are shorter than her back ones so she is always walking downhill. How nice. She might be a chow chow since her tongue is spotted black. (My husband Googled this at least a hundred times thinking our dog had a weird form of doggie leprosy affecting only her tongue.) In reality we have no idea what breed she is, except that it has to be some combination of the fuzziest animals ever to live because she is so fluffy. Whenever we take her to the groomer the poor woman emerges after two hours, sweating, and apologetically tells us she did “all she could.” It’s like a scene from a soap opera where someone dies tragically after hours of surgery, and I always expect to go into the back and find Georgia rigor mortis style clutching lilies over her chest. Instead she bounces around happy to be a full four pounds of fur lighter. In time, we have come to the conclusion this Chow/Furby mix of ours must be at least part husky, as promised by Sally Sue from Petsmart, because all of our walks resemble some type of training for the Iditarod.

We tried everything with Georgia when she was little. She went to Doggie School. And Doggie Daycare. And Doggie Boot Camp. We tried choke-chains (I know, I know), Flexi-Leads, and most recently a “Gentle Leader” which really turns your dog into a donkey by clamping a harness over their head. All she needs is a bit to look like a complete ass (Haha. I crack myself up…). Each pet product we purchase promises to tame the unruly beast we cohabitate with, but every time we leave the front porch we are immediately hauling ass down the street seeing how many things we can pee on and how many times we can chase invisible squirrels around trees.

With baby arriving soon, we knew something had to be done if we were to even survive an outing with baby, buggy, and Husky Beast. We decided to practice walking Georgia with the stroller up and down our street; if she was going to insist on running 30 miles per hour down the road, I wanted to make sure I padded my baby with the right amount of bubble wrap, so these things needed to be calibrated prior to trying with actual baby. To ensure people thought I was legitimately crazy, I took the empty stroller and placed a big blue teddy bear swaddled in a blanket inside it–more realistic, I thought.

But then, a miracle happened.

There we were, braced for the ensuing chaos that was to strike as soon as we opened the door. I was pretty confident this experience was going to resemble that one time I walked Georgia while wearing my roller blades, so this time I was prepared with my wrist guards and a healthy dose of wide-eyed terror. Stroller in one hand, beast and leash in the other, I kicked open the door and winced. But then, nothing! My ferocious, precocious squirrel hunter was sitting pleasantly and waiting for me and the teddy bear buggy to go through the door first! Cautiously we set out, and by the grace of Bob our dog was walking, not mushing, alongside the teddy-bear laden stroller. I nearly cried.

This is now our daily ritual. We load up the stroller with bear (I keep adding accessories to the Bugaboo buggy… there’s now a hanging rattle thing on top. I think I saw a documentary like this where old cat-ladies pretend their dolls are actual babies and take them for walks and crap like that. But our neighbors already think we are crazy so whatevs). Stroller, with flair, dog, husband, and I set out each day on this trek in preparation for when there will be an actual baby in there, and so far, so good! She walks nicely alongside us. Who knew walking the dog could be a pleasant experience. I think even when our child outgrows the stroller we will still use it to walk the dog; it’s the only thing that has worked. I’m calling Petco. This is the next big pet product craze.