Just two and a half weeks ago my family adopted two puppies. We had to put our oldest puppy to sleep in February of last year. First, let me clarify – our oldest ‘puppy’ had just turned thirteen, achieving a good old age for a dog of his size. In our house, they are always puppies and are always referred to as such. We miss him a lot, though the two new ones help ease that.
The two new ones are, in fact, baby dogs – what everyone else would call puppies, too. All of ours are rescues, and these are #10 and #11 of a set of thirt-uplets. (No, I didn’t misspell triplets, there were thirteen of them.)
To our family, these dogs are #3 and #4. There’s more about our two older dogs – Chaos and Felony – in previous entries. Now welcome Travesty and Mayhem!
We have gotten much better at this puppy stuff over the years. With the help of a number of rescues that we have sent on to other good homes, we’ve learned how to be a team, what really works when housebreaking a puppy and what doesn’t. This time around, I’m not worried about finding them a home, because they are ours. I’m not upset because I can’t get the dog to pee outside. And no one’s mad at anyone because ‘I thought you were going to clean that up this time!’
I’m really getting to enjoy them, and I’m learning a lot of life lessons – the puppy way. Here’s what I’ve learned from puppies.
Actions have consequences.
Yes, Legos are yummy. Small teeth are sharp and little jaws are strong. Puppies can make short work of this Danish treat. But in about two days, things are going to get rough. When this happens, act surprised.
Some consequences don’t have actions.
Sometimes you get bonked on the head and yelled at in a language you don’t understand and you have no idea why. You have two options now – 1) stand your ground and look like what you are: utterly confused. 2) Act repentant, even if you aren’t sure why.
Work as a team.
In the American Legal System we have trouble punishing someone if we aren’t sure they did it. The Home Legal System often works this same way. Thus, if there is one spot of pee on the floor and two puppies, it’s really hard to figure out who gets yelled at. This works best if both puppies adopt the same confused expression.
Makeup has a lot of pigment.
A lot! If you eat some of it you will poo that color for at least a week. Choose your color wisely.
Cute things fare better in this world, that’s a fact. Puppies are inherently cute, but we should all work to retain cuteness for as long as possible. Humans are biologically programmed to respond to cute things. It’s why they still pick up their own kids and cuddle them after three days of non-stop screaming and pooping.
Perfect several expressions that work for you.
Be sure to have at least one each for: cute, happy and repentant. You’ll find that these three expressions alone will get you through 98% of your interactions. Your natural expression of confusion will work for the remainder.
Cardboard is yummy and provides roughage.
Don’t eat string.
Playtime is sacred.
There should be playtime every day, several times every day if you can swing it. It shouldn’t be mixed with anything else. It can be structured (fetching) or free (Ultimate Puppy Smackdown), but should always be full on. When you are done, collapse in a heap.
Wag your tail to let people know you are happy.
Sometimes you are happy or content and people don’t know it. Wagging your tail signals this. No matter how much you are concentrating on something, or whatever your face says, your tail doesn’t lie. Wag it!
Don’t pull, push.
If a dog grabs you and you pull, the dog wins. Dogs have mastered the art of the pull. This is true with people, too. If they tug at you, they expect you to pull away. If you want to win, you have to push. If you growl while you do it, well, that just helps establish that you are the winner.
Go for the face.
Over the years we have lost a few stuffed animals to the dogs. Though this is always tragic, it’s also interesting. Our dogs only chew up the stuffed toys’ faces. No severed limbs. No missing parts, just the head chewed out and the face shredded. If you are ever attacked, go for the face, it really freaks people out.
The World keeps shrinking.
As you get older, the days go faster. Things you thought were huge are merely regular-sized. And people lose their god-like abilities. One day you are running under the coffee table with ease, and the next time you try, it smacks you upside the head with enough force to knock you out.
Follow the rules.
The rules are there to keep someone safe or a lot of people happy. Though it’s easier in the short term, peeing on the floor is harder to deal with in the long term. Some rules don’t make any sense, but you should follow your pack leader on that one.
Happiness is where you find it.
Bad things are everywhere. There are big dogs that don’t like you just because you are . . . well, just because. But there are good things everywhere, too. A good chew toy. A sunny day. A ball in the grass that you didn’t remember leaving there. Legos in the corner of the living room that taste so, so good.
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