Step 1: There is no way to mentally prepare yourself for a dog, especially if you’re a cat person, and even if you are already a parent of humans. The End.
Ok, just kidding. Here are the steps that don’t actually work to prepare you for anything but you could read them anyway if you want:
Step 1: Be a cat person for 40 years.
Step 2: Realize that life is short. Boys and husband have begged for years, so let them have a dog.
Step 3: Regret this decision immediately.
Step 4: Remember step 2.
Step 5: Repeat steps 2 and 3 multiple times.
Step 6: Do not give local shelter your first born child. WTH is that all about? We have three healthy boys and three healthy cats! I’m pretty sure we know how to take care of living things. No one did a home visit before we left the hospital– “We’re sorry, your house does not yet have socket protectors or a baby gate, you cannot bring your child home. Also, we need to call three people who know you and also have children to see if you will be fit parents, as well as a pediatrician who will release all of your other children’s medical records to us. If these do not meet our standards, we will give your child to someone else.” That place was MENTAL.
Step 7: Do not reinvent the wheel–go back to the wonderful shelter where you rescued your kitties.
Step 8: Visit several times over several weeks. Become discouraged. Repeat steps 2 and 3.
Step 9: On the 5th visit, decide to give a dog a trial run at home with the shelter’s “Pajama Party” program. Watch the family fall in love over the weekend, and maybe do the same (but don’t tell anyone).
Step 10: Decide to keep the dog.
Step 11: Panic. Repeat step 2. Panic. And so on, indefinitely.
Step 12: Become more broke than you already were because boys/kids.
Steps 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17: Spend 95% of your time cleaning up pee and poop in the house, spend 95% of your time cleaning up poop outside, spend 95% of your time washing dog-smell bedding, spend 95% of your time saying “Good Girl!” (Freaking exhausting for this cat-person who believes in intrinsic motivation. Do you really need that much praise? I mean, I like validation, but can’t I just remind her once in a while? And does she really need to follow me around all of the time? Yes, I like you too, now stop needing me constantly. Geezus, it’s like an insecure boyfriend who keeps asking if you’re mad at him), spend 95% of your time saying “Oh my God!! Drop it! What the hell are you doing?! Where’s the dog?! Get down! NO! Leave it!! Don’t eat that!! DOG!!! And, OH MY GOD THAT IS DISGUSTING!!!!”
Step 18: Nearly have an anxiety attack because holy crap what have you gotten yourself into and how are you supposed to function in life if this thing is causing turmoil all over the place and the poor kitties are scared to death and you have no time to even think let alone sit down.
Step 19: Watch it get a little easier every few days.
Step 20: Watch yourself melt when the dog shows you unconditional love and affection. (Deny it if mentioned.) Realize that she really needed us.
Step 21: Watch your boys smile, laugh, relax, and be comforted and understood by this difficult and adoring creature who has just thrown a giant wrench in your life.
Step 22: Feel completely overwhelmed and want to run away because boys AND dog.
Steps 23-76: WINE
Step 77: Watch your husband light up every day and brim with emotion because he has wanted a dog his entire life.
Step 78: Allow your ever-shifting standards to sway, step away and look at yourself standing in the center of the storm, and hang on for the ride.
Step 79: Remind yourself that change is the only constant–my ever-present undercurrent of consciousness. Change is the only constant. And man, it sure makes my heart happy to see my family smile. Also wine.