(one very happy, wet dog after playing in the sprinkler!)
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.
Today, I actually said the following: “I think this will be the last time we have a puppy.”
It’s been 8 years since Bailey blazed into our lives, the little toot. Of course, we had our fine Shadow to mentor him, and I recall that it was a pretty painless puppyhood, mostly because Shadow bore the brunt of his puppy antics.
Dear Shadow, now I better understand and appreciate how much you resented little Bailey, because now I am taking the brunt of Tucker’s puppy antics; Tucker is constantly looking to me to entertain him, and I’m falling down on the job.
My recollection of 15 years ago, which is hazy at best, was that Shadow was the perfect puppy, easily trained and consistently obedient. I don’t remember Shadow’s ever being such a toot, rather he was an old soul to begin with.
There was only one time he really got in trouble, and that was when he nibbled the corner of Joel’s briefcase. He got the “what for”, and he never nibbled on any “off limits” items ever again. Shadow was quite the gentleman, and I don’t recall that he was ever willfully disobedient.
(except there was that one time in his twilight years, when his groomer, Susan, arrived, and he hightailed it south, just as fast as his arthritic legs would go… When I caught up with him, I think he was a little embarrassed; he was stoic about returning to face his ordeal.)
Just a month ago, Tucker also blazed into our lives, albeit with a decided handicap, which we embraced and corrected, with all the baggage that surgery, feeding tubes, conehead paraphernalia and extra TLC entail.
This puppy is a TOOT on the scale of a Bailey, but without the guidance of a Shadow. So it’s up to Joel and me to guide him into greatness, a la Shadow, but without the benefit of Shadow’s serene nature.
I sometimes find myself totally exhausted by monitoring Tucker’s activities, especially being watchful when he’s in his “Jaws” mode. Trying to distract a teething puppy from chewing on inappropriate things involves a lot of “NO! Leave it! Drop it!” and scrambling to replace it with an appropriate chewy. He picks up EVERYTHING in his mouth outside. I think he ate a cigarette butt the other day (left by workmen on our street).
(I’m chewing on something on Mom’s approved list here!)
I simply cannot let him out of my sight.
We practice training skills daily, beginning with a long walk (he heels naturally, and doesn’t pull like Bailey… a big plus). Then there is a lot of playtime, and some school, where we drill on things like “sit, shake, speak, down, roll over, come, go, stay, jump, quiet, upstairs, downstairs, fetch, drop it”. Tucker is doing great at picking up these commands, but still needs to work on consistency.
Sometimes Tucker is perfectly on the mark, and other times, he is stubbornly resistant. I never punish his intransigence, but rather I praise his obedience.
We go outside A LOT; there have been no accidents for quite awhile. I also sit on the floor for much of the day and fling toys to and fro for fetching purposes. Or we go up and down the stairs (a good way to burn excess energy!). But playing in the sprinkler is the best fun!
(herding the sprinkler with wild abandon!)
Then there are the puppy hours, which means early to bed and early to rise. If that means I’ll be healthy, wealthy and wise, well, that would be a bonus. But I sometimes wish that Tucker would sleep in every once in awhile! I don’t get to take long naps like he does during the day.
(nap time, right behind Mom’s desk chair)
However, I keep telling myself to not wish the time away, but instead try to enjoy these intensive puppy days. He is just so cute and very sweet natured.
Sometimes I can’t help thinking ahead to when he is grown up, but oh, how sweet it is when he cuddles in, puts his head on my shoulder and snuffles in my ear… it’s moments like these that I don’t want him to grow up at all.
Looking on the bright side of our Tucker’s development, we are hopeful that he will be a laid back little fellow. Lately we have had swarms of men from the Memorial Villages Water Authority invade our yard to rehabilitate the sewer lines, which run along our eastern and northern boundaries. There are bulldozers rumbling and generators roaring, trucks coming and going, and just causing a big, noisy mess.
Tucker has taken it all in stride as just a normal day at home. Bailey would have been a total nervous wreck with all the uproar and unpredictable aspects of this project.
But Tucker doesn’t react to the noise, greets each man with a wag of the tail, and has not barked at any of them. If I had wanted a watch dog, I guess that wouldn’t be a good thing, but since I just want a mellow, friendly dog, that is a plus! So far, that’s what Tucker has turned out to be…
Doorbell rings? He thinks it’s a new friend! And thankfully, he doesn’t bark.
It’s the same when we go to the vet’s office. Bailey and Shadow would both quake and tremble, but Tucker prances in jauntily, in spite of all the procedures he has had there in his little puppy life. It’s just normal to him. I’m crossing my fingers that this attitude will last his whole life long.
As you can tell, it’s been quite a BUSY month, and will continue to be so until Tucker has matured and settled into being the fine dog he was born to be. Day by day, we are getting closer to that goal, but there is much work yet to be done.
In His infinite wisdom, I think God decreed it that young women with boundless energy and stamina raise up babies. But He didn’t say anything about puppies and tired, older women!
Which is why I have to ask myself, “Will I ever raise up a puppy again?” Joel says yes, that I will forget how hard it is and fall in love with another pup someday. I’m not so sure. Ask me again in a few months!
Note: pewperson will return on Oct. 7.