Once Upon a Time in Puppyland

There’s a new puppy in the house. I’m not sure when I agreed to this but just the faintest whiff that I might be waffling resulted in a small shaggy puppy I’ve been assured is a purebred. I have my doubts.

It’s been a tooth pull getting me up to speed on puppyhood with all its opportunities for naughtiness and cuteness. There are no straight lines in dealing with a puppy. And you can forget the self-congratulation on your excellent training abilities. Puppies have their own developmental schedule and the human curmudgeon can be damned.

Over the last few weeks I’ve learned that puppies love to pee. And poop. But mostly pee and they are not offended by walking, sleeping, or sitting in it. Babies are babies and babies can’t figure out why you’re flailing your arms and brandishing a roll of paper towels. Maybe it’s time to play.

Puppies want to help. They insist on interjecting themselves into every household activity: mopping up pee, dusting, moving things around, and waiting for stuff to fall off the cutting board. Did I mention mopping up pee?

Small puppies learn from big dogs. Big dogs, even those small in stature, teach the youth how to behave in the pack. There are rules and there is pack etiquette and you must not break the rules. It’s terrifying. The growling sounds like a truck full of gravel being dumped in the living room. After a while you tune it out just like you tuned out all the screaming and drama when your kids were little. Which brings me to the realization that raising a puppy is just like raising a kid. There are equal parts exasperation and amusement, lessons to be taught and mistakes to be made. I might be uncorking a little as the puppy learns and I remember.

If you have an older dog you forget they were once a puppy. If you have an older dog who came from rescue, it’s rather poignant to remember that you never got to see the baby pictures or buy toys or remind it that we pee outside.

On a sunny day, as the puppy learns the grass is not scary and dandelions are not trying to kill you, that you never bedevil a bee, and it’s fun to chase the big dog around the field until you collapse in a heap, I get to watch the silliness and sense of wonder only something so small and young can teach you. Grownups talk about magic but they forget how to find it. Puppies can help with that.

As the weeks stretch by you get to see that all your hair pulling and exhaustion and frustration and treat doling is producing a pretty good dog. But you won’t ever change the essential qualities of the dog’s personality. Puppies are born with a heart filled with kindness and silliness. Humans sometimes change that goodness. It’s true there are no bad dogs. I wish I could say the same for people.

We have a crazy little energy ball in the house careening into every other molecule in its environment. I suspect that won’t change. There is naughtiness in those brown eyes.

Our dogs are with us for a short time. Too short. Puppies give us a glimpse of innocence and foolishness and never-ending optimism. I’m thinking everyone needs at least one puppy in their lifetime.


About Phyllis Alberici

Hanging a few lanterns in the darkness. Let me know how it's going.
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