When we adopted Charlotte earlier this month, I knew we had a lot of work to do in terms of unlearning bad habits and trying to teach new, good ones. That much is true.
But what I never anticipated is that we’d go through a middle-of-the-night routine not unlike having a newborn. Which explains why I’m routinely up between 1 and 2 a.m. walking our little terrier around the block so she can go to the bathroom.
Charlotte came to us with a recent past that included sleeping each night in a kennel, so I figured that meant she was down for the night.
No matter if we put her to bed at 10 or 11 p.m. or close to midnight — and even if she relieves herself before doing so — she will be up in two or three hours, barking to be let out.
One might think I’d take the opportunity to complain. But I won’t.
The way I figure it, one of two things is true. Either she’s playing us or she really does have a tiny bladder. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt because each and every time we have that middle-of-the-night walk, she’ll pee and poop.
The other issue is her behavior on the leash. During daylight hours, Charlotte can be like a bull out of a chute. There are just so many sights and smells to tempt a little terrier, whether it’s a squirrel, a bird, another dog or who-knows-what-scents in the grass and leaves. We’ve taken her to obedience classes but so far there’s not much change — and, frankly, I’m not surprised, given that she was living on the streets before she got picked up by the animal shelter folks and subsequently moved to two or three short-term places before she wound up in our home.
After midnight, she becomes much calmer. In the dark wee hours, there is less visual and aural stimulation. She’s more responsive and — maybe this is wishful thinking — appreciative of the relative quiet.
Maybe that’s why I’m not as put out as one would expect. Several times I’ve found myself embracing the experience — the one-on-one time with our rescue dog, knowing we’re the only ones out at that hour, and reminding myself that things could be a lot worse if she were unmanageable in other ways.
I’m sure we look pretty funny. I’ll stagger out the door in pajama bottoms, hoodie and slippers or, if the weather is warm, a ratty T-shirt and baggy shorts. Charlotte, meanwhile, is all but invisible with her jet-black coat.
Once we’re inside, all is forgiven. I’m glad we chose to give this little runt a home. With her playful spirit, she makes it a cheerier place.
Lead photograph: Lori Rauh Rede