PG 64 PAW-RENT DIARY
Tales of a helicopter paw-rent.
it’s been 10 months since Bobby the Pug joined the family, and yes, paw-renthood is as glorious as the Internet paints it out to be. The minute I come home, Bobby dashes as fast as his stubby legs can take him to greet me with slobbery kisses. Our previously quiet home is now filled with happy snorting and the telltale pitter-patter of his paws as he scouts each room. There’s zero privacy now because the fatty needs to know where we are at all times—and he’s so adorable we just let him. There’s just one thing that the Internet left out: The overwhelming anxiety that comes with being a new paw-rent.
Although Bobby is six years old, I think of him as a baby, I mean puppy. He was an ex-breeding dog, so he spent almost his entire life cooped up in a cage. I knew that a domestic life was new to Bobby, but it never occurred to me that I would have to teach my pup what a bed or leash was, or that toys, the human touch, and kindness were things he didn’t have to be afraid of. I believed he was fragile, impressionable and needed our constant surveillance and guidance, so I set out to be the most nurturing paw-rent I could possibly be. I literally hovered over him while he devoured his kibble because I wanted to make sure he was eating (that clearly wasn’t the issue); I spent half an hour every night petting him to sleep; and I manually moved his paws when he was afraid to go for walks.
Going to work was a terrifying experience because the Bobster would be all alone at home. What if he gnawed on our dining chairs or shredded the couch? Did he know that his water bowl was right beside him? Did he know he was in a safe space now? I remember cancelling all my appointments for the first two weeks after we brought Bobby home, so I could spend time with him. On the rare occasion that I brought him out for a playdate and he was out of my line of sight for a minute, I’d ask
in a panic: “Where is my dog?”
After three peaceful, uneventful months passed, I eased myself into paw-renthood. That’s when catastrophe struck.
The choking incident
Last November, I received a WHATSAPP message from my brother who was on Bobby duty that evening: “Next time when we’re feeding Bobby, we need to be present and we need to feed him in small portions.”
As usual, our greedy Pug wolfed down dinner at lightning speed the minute my brother put his food bowl on the floor. To us, this was a normal occurrence. He had choked on a handful of kibble here and there, but it was nothing he couldn’t regurgitate. As my brother stood up to walk away, Bobby’s entire body suddenly stiffened and toppled to the side with his legs awkwardly sticking out. He wasn’t breathing or coughing, and that’s when my brother dove in to do the Heimlich manoeuvre on our dog. After a furious round of tugging, Bobby let out a tiny gasp of air, vomited a huge chunk of dry food all over his feet, sat there quietly and quietly licked his face.
I immediately bought a slow feeder for Bobby, but it was an epic fail. In his desperate attempts to stuff his face with food, he ended up inhaling the kibble instead. We tossed out the feeder. Now, we soak his kibble or feed him small portion by small portion—of course with someone hovering over him throughout his entire mealtime.
The onion episode
You’d have thought that three months after the choking incident, we’d have learnt our lesson and kept anything edible out of Bobby’s reach, but we conveniently forgot about a basket of onions, garlic and chives on our kitchen floor.
I had gone for a short trip to Malaysia with my mum to visit our relatives, so Bobby was left in the care of my dad and my brother. While I was playing a rowdy game of mahjong, I saw my phone light up with a text message from Dad: “Bobby snuck into the kitchen and ate almost a whole onion.” Onions can purportedly cause a dog’s red blood cells to rupture, which may result in anaemia and possible organ failure. I started freaking out. Being miles away from home didn’t help.
Despite my dad’s insistence that Bobster looked fine, I ordered my brother to bring him to the vet right away. “Bring the onion along so the vet knows how much he ate,” I commanded. An hour later, my brother was reporting to us live from the vet clinic. The clinic was packed, but once the vet took a look at the onion, Bobby got to skip the long queue and had vomiting induced to purge the toxins. After the ordeal, my brother sent us a photo of the fatty happily walking out of the clinic, tongue out and tail wagging.
Knowing that these near-death accidents happened when I wasn’t home, I am inclined to believe that I am Bobby’s good luck charm. Needless to say, our kitchen’s had a makeover since to ensure anything vaguely edible is out of Bobby’s reach.
Let it go
For the longest time, my co-workers had been asking me to bring Bobby to the office. But I was anxious. “Bobby is still very scared of unfamiliar places and loud sounds,” I said. When I finally brought the little guy to work, I couldn’t help feeling like a Mum sending her little one off to school for the first time. I shadowed him around the office so he didn’t feel afraid, and I made him sit in a chair beside me when I couldn’t keep an eye on him. I even half-joked that I should put a bell on Bobby’s collar so I’d know where he was every single moment of the day. Despite my paranoia, my colleagues assured me that my worries were unfounded. “He’s so curious and confident. You’re such a helicopter paw-rent,” a colleague teased. That set me thinking: “Was this all in my head? Look at the fatty taking a nap in the sun. Maybe the anxiety was really unwarranted. Maybe I should take a chill pill... or maybe I should get a CCTV to spy on Bobby while I’m at work.” After all, no matter how old he gets, my first furkid will always be my baby.