New puppies, much like Gremlins and teen vampires, tend to be lovely creatures by day and terrifying after dark. (I write these words, as you might imagine, bleary-eyed and disoriented from sleep deprivation. So if this blog comes off as disjointed or even nonsensical, just remember that pickle boots fichus dump truck.)

We picked up Beasley, an 8 week old yellow Labrador, late on Sunday morning, and by the afternoon we were frolicking together in the grass. Things were wonderful. The world was a sunny, beautiful place. The fact that we had a new puppy just when I was entering my busiest and most intense week of the year, NYU Stern Orientation, barely registered. Such was the cuteness of Beasley.

“We’ll take care of her!” my kids assured us.

“What’s there to take care of?” I asked breezily, watching Beasley tumble around in the grass as if attempting to mime the word Cute. She sniffed our faces. She licked our noses. She put her head in our laps.

Then, night fell.

I had read, in a book about raising dogs that was written by monks (I feel like monks should just write books on everything because who’s not going to tell a monk they don’t know what they’re talking about? You?), that we should keep Beasley in a crate next to our bed. I read that I should lie next to her to make her feel safe.

The kids practically begged to let them sleep next to her in our bedroom that night.

“You can stay in here for a little while,” I told them magnanimously. Liz would be in the bed. I would be on an air mattress on the floor next to the crate.

“Yay!” the kids cheered.

“Not too loud,” I said.

“Yay!” the kids whispered.

The lights went off.

And Beasley started barking.

Now, in movies, puppy-barking is universally cute, probably because it’s usually accompanied by a voiceover where the puppy is lost and asking a goat if it can be its new mommy.

This wasn’t cute.

It took all of three minutes for Finn to gingerly stand up and perform an overly dramatic stretch/yawn combo.

“Well, I think I’ll head off to bed,” Finn said. “Lucy, you can stay with the puppy.” But Lucy was already on all fours on the other side of the room, trying sneak out the bedroom door.

I looked over at Liz to see if we should make the kids stay, since they had promised to take care of the puppy in good times and bad, but Liz was already pushing back the covers.

“Yeah, I’m sleeping in the guest room.” (Liz has a big job as a lawyer. I would be gone the rest of the week, and she was getting a glimpse into her puppy-night future. The kids, I don’t know what their excuse was.)

So now it’s just me and Beasley, and Beasley is barking like crazy, and I’ve abandoned the monk-book and I’ve moved on to frantically googling Puppy-Barking-Night-Crate-Oh-No-What-Happened-to-Chasing-Your-Tale-and-Falling-Asleep-with-a-Stuffed-Penguin.

Put your fingers in the crate, I read on the website I found. That way the puppy will think it’s still with its mom.

That didn’t sound right at all but I was desperate so I put my fingers inside and that’s when I found out that puppy teeth are LITERALLY MADE OUT OF RAZOR WIRE. But at least now she’s not barking, so I leave my fingers in there and I’m wondering if it’s possible to fall asleep when your fingers are being chewed on by what feels like a baby wolverine and then I’m realizing that this cheap air mattress I got at Walmart is starting to deflate.

So now I’m lying on a big flap of polyvinal chloride that smells like a Crocs factory and Beasley is chewing my fingers and breathing skunk breath in my face and I’m wondering how I’m going to get to sleep when I realize Beasley is pooping. She’s pooping in her CRATE where she sleeps which has apparently never happened in the history of dogs. So I scoop her up and run outside into the night and plunk her down in the yard except she’s already finished pooping so now she thinks we’ve gone outside to play.

I assure her, in forced coo-ing terms, that she is sadly mistaken.

It was a long night.

I used to think people were exaggerating in saying having a puppy was like taking care of a baby. They were not exaggerating. It’s practice for a having newborn. (Though when I suggested this to my colleague Bryan he looked at me strangely and asked why you would need to practice not sleeping and picking up poop, and thanks but he’ll wait for the actual baby for all that.)

So I’ll say this:

You gotta want a puppy. You gotta be all in on a puppy. Because you’re not sleeping and you’re cleaning up and throwing away a lot of shoes.

But we, the Grennan family?

We are all in.

We got Beasley because our family was incomplete without a dog. That’s who we are. Beasley is a Grennan. And we love her. And I’m tired.

For that reason, this week’s top five list will be as short as I can possibly make it. Ready?

The Top Five More Appropriate Names We Could Have Given Beasley:

  1. Chompy Muppet.
  2. Tumble ‘n’ Poop.
  3. Toilet Face.
  4. Caged Fracas.
  5. She’s Peeing.

Okay, seriously, IF YOU HAVE A PUPPY, I would genuinely love any and all advice. I need it. Give it to me now. Like, stop what you’re doing and start typing in the comments. I’ll wait. 

By | 2018-08-22T12:04:11-04:00 August 22nd, 2018|27 Comments


  1. Sara August 22, 2018 at 12:13 pm - Reply

    Ha! In good times and in bad. It’ll get better. Don’t cave in and let the dog sleep with you. Keep the crate a positive place. Wear that dog out during the day. Treats for training. Love your writing!

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      I was THIS close to caving and letting the dog sleep with me. Seriously.

  2. Jen August 22, 2018 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    I don’t know how it happened exactly, but we taught our lab pup to grab a toy when she got excited so she didn’t nip or bite people or other dogs. Now she’s two and when she gets excited to see someone or another dog comes in, she automatically grabs a toy and can’t “mouth” others. Worked especially well when other dogs came over and for people less comfortable around dogs. Hard to be as afraid of her with a stuffed hedgehog in her mouth. Once the initial excitement was over she would drop it, though. It is funny to watch her scramble for a toy when she knows someone is coming in.

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 1:31 pm - Reply

      Oh my gosh, that is the funniest and cutest thing ever. I keep laughing at that image.

  3. Marcy Prager August 22, 2018 at 12:41 pm - Reply

    Some people say to put in an old alarm clock wrapped up in towels next to the puppy in the crate. (mother’s heart) Keep her in the crate and sleep next to her like you are doing. Remember back to when you children were babies? A puppy is a baby. I have been encouraged to adopt an older dog. LOL! Get some good lotion for your hands and fingers. You do have to take out puppies to do their thing every few hours in the night. They aren’t supposed to crap in the crate. (alliteration) Let us know how it is going with the smallest Grennan. My dog is old and this will be my life soon as well.

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      Old dogs are so sweet! I keep thinking of Beasley as a future old dog.

  4. Kathleen Appel August 22, 2018 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    We have two (yes, two) 18-month-old labs that we got at six weeks old. AT THE SAME TIME. For about four months, I was a zombie, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. I remember when they woke me up just to say hello at 3am.

    Don’t give up on the crate. Put a t-shirt or sweatshirt in there with your scent on it. That sometimes helps. Always make going in the crate a positive, i.e. give a small treat whenever Beasley enters. It will take time, but Beasley will settle down. If Beasley keeps pooping in the crate, have her checked for worms. I would also have her go in for short stints during the day; you may find she eventually will go in herself if she’s tired.

    Replace and unwanted chew behavior with a toy/nylabone/antler. Never rawhide, especially for puppies. It can unravel in their stomach/intestines which isn’t cool.

    And here is a glimmer of hope: our crates are packed away. They don’t need them when we’re not home. They do, however, love to sleep on our bed 🙂

    Love, love, love every moment of this time and take lots of pictures!!

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm - Reply

      Twin puppies!! I’ve never even heard of that. Amazing. Thank you!

      • Kathleen Appel September 27, 2018 at 5:33 pm - Reply

        And yes, ours just went to puppy school for three weeks – manners are now a thing.

  5. Elsa Brule August 22, 2018 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    We brought our pup to a trainer for two weeks. Sure, you’ll miss her, but comes back with manners and potty trained.
    Adorable pup and it will all be worth it!

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 4:07 pm - Reply

      I’m hearing this all over the place! Love the thought of a Brule pooch!!

  6. Julia August 22, 2018 at 2:40 pm - Reply

    I am convinced that you could take the absolutely-worst-thing to happen to people in the entire world, write about it, and I’d want it to happen to me. Good luck with the pup, pretty darn cute!

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Ha! Thanks Julia!!

  7. anna August 22, 2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    It seems Beasley is a boy pup so get ready! Potty training is much more difficult for boys to learn and takes longer. Girl pups are very easy. My Bella just turned a year old in June and what an incredible difference then when she was 10 weeks old. Try to enjoy the puppy craziness. It doesn’t last long, and they are so, so cute during the day. Maybe Beasley is hungry at night?

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      She’s a girl! We’ll see how easy she is :-). But apparently last night she was sleeping better! I wasn’t home but good grades from Lizzie!

  8. Chloe August 22, 2018 at 2:48 pm - Reply

    What we did with both of our dogs was we put their crates/bed in the mudroom. Cookie liked to have towels over the top and sides of her crate (except for the door) because it made a little den for her that was cozy. Fergie was initially crate trained and he whined all night for days….my mom would recommend good earplugs!! I personally don’t think it’s necessary that they be in the same room as you. Our dogs turned out ok! The previously mentioned wrapped alarm clock is a good idea. Lots of soft cuddly stuffed toys for it to snuggle.

    • Conor August 22, 2018 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      How could they not want stuffed cuddly toys??

  9. Mary ann shaughnessy August 22, 2018 at 7:35 pm - Reply

    In regard to the name list would like to add Stopthat and Getdown. Badgirl has a certain ring to it Some days Dammit seems to be especially endearing, but must be uttered between grit teeth to be fully effective. I have an 11 month old Havanese girl who is cute as can be, but has yet to learn (after many explanations on my part) what out is and why it means so much to me. It seems the battle lines have been drawn.

    • Conor August 23, 2018 at 9:48 am - Reply

      Getdown! Such a better name. So into that.

  10. Debbie Shrauner August 23, 2018 at 12:33 am - Reply

    We too, have taken the puppy plunge this summer. This isn’t my first rodeo, (so I agree with Chloe) and we put her crate as far away from us as possible. We Set the alarm twice a night for the potty breaks and by 3 months Molly could make it all night. I’ve been watching wonderful puppy trading videos on YouTube by Stonnie Dennis and Larry Krohn. IMG_9212.HEIC
    Good luck- I hear labs are puppies a LONG time!

    • Conor August 23, 2018 at 9:48 am - Reply

      I so need puppy training videos, thanks. I think this weekend is going to be all about that…

  11. Maurita August 23, 2018 at 7:48 am - Reply

    Just remember to turn off the alarm on the alarm clock!! Just as we were all settled down fast asleep the alarm went off and scared the living daylights out of ALL of us! Puppy never went back in the box!!!

    • Conor August 23, 2018 at 9:49 am - Reply

      I’m the King Of Not Turning Off My Alarm.

  12. Sharon August 23, 2018 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    When my flatmate got a puppy, she slept in a crate in our kitchen and we put newspaper down for any accidents. We gave her old clothes with our scent on and a ticking alarm clock to mimic a heartbeat. She cried for a few nights but it soon became routine and she settled quite soon. A happy memory was whoever opened the kitchen door first got the biggest welcome, then she shot up the stairs to wake up the rest of the house with doggy slobbers 🙂 Enjoy your new baby x

    • Conor August 23, 2018 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      I was away overnight last night and when I came home I got the BIGGEST welcome home, it was amazing!! So true.

  13. Wendy Peter August 24, 2018 at 1:55 am - Reply

    My best advice
    #1 create an association word when your puppy does his business. We used “hurry up”… picture neighbors walking by as you yell “go pee” and you’ll understand why we chose hurry up! Anyway this will eventually translate into the ability to convince your dog to pee on command which is really helpful when it’s -30 mid winter cold.
    #2 Accept that he will own the bed, break all rules and get away with whatever he wants…. eventually

    • Conor September 4, 2018 at 10:21 am - Reply

      Thank you Wendy! I’ve been so grateful that we got Beasley in the summer when I can still go outside and not freeze to death. The hurry up rule will be paramount!

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