When we decided to get a puppy last summer, I, a cat guy, had some questions. For example, how often do dogs eat? And will it know how to pee outside immediately? The answers to those are all the time and evidently no, respectively. When Burke informed me that we were getting a female dog, I was instantly excited to be able to use the term “bitch” literally and without repercussions. However, it dawned on me that soon I would be living in a house of girls from three different species.

This didn’t seem to matter. The cat is always a psychopath, the human has her moments, but the dog was a puppy, a playful, happy, innocent puppy whose goals seemed to be as follows and in descending order of importance.

  1. Eat.
  2. Find food
  3. Explore under the couch (probably for food, but also sometimes for pens)
  4. Eat the cat’s food
  5. If 4 is not possible, then eat the cat’s poop (the next best thing apparently)

But then at month nine a little splotch of blood appeared from the pup’s nether regions and her nipples got big and some other biological things that I’ll let you imagine. We realized that our little puppy was in heat. My little girl was growing up!

Taking her for a walk elicited heretofore unknown levels of frustration. She smelled everything. Each drop of urine, each pile of poop were like tinder profiles for the neighborhood’s dogs. She smelled each one, took down the dog’s credentials (good diet, healthy, good testicle cleansing regimen). Then she shook her butt until a few inches away she came across Fido’s urine, the chihuahua from flat 12.

Her personality changed a bit as well. She became cheeky, like a teenager. She says mean things to me while I cook and refuses to acknowledge our relationship when we’re around the other neighborhood dogs. As she has long been in a feud with the cat for domination of the flat, she took to attacking the poor B Monster. She rushes her, even sometimes tackles her. The cat, surely remembering her own heat from 14 years ago, rolls her eyes and tells herself that it’s just a phase.

Phase 2 seemed to involve some sort of a clarion call to the dogs of Břevnov that my puppy was open for business. Walking her went from frustrating to genuinely nerve wracking. Every male dog on the street came over for a sniff. On one occasion, she assumed the position and I was forced to snatch her up, scold the male dog for his caddish behavior, and then run home screaming with the dog tucked into my arm like a football.

As the Czechs are a very dog friendly society, most dog owners here will normally approach and allow a little meeting and interplay. Normally, I welcome this as I only stress about the small talk we humans are supposed to have while our dogs smell each other’s butts.

“Your dog has nice ears,” I said once to a woman who had a peppy Jack Russell.

“Let’s go,” she responded and she and the dog were gone.

Now, to avoid appearing rude, I learned how to say “my dog is in heat” in Czech. And have subsequently said “Pes je na hárání” roughly 600 times.

As people seldom want responsibility for a litter of mixed Shih tzu + whatever they have puppies my dog and I are avoided like furry plagues in sweatpants. Small talk is no longer a worry. I will never have children so this is the closest I will ever come to having a teenager and worrying about the chastity of it.  

I have dreams and those dreams often involve me sitting at a train station with a box of Shih tzu puppies I’m trying to hand out to passersby. This wouldn’t be too bad, but it’s the small talk that horrifies me to the brink.   

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