Friday, October 19, 2012

Lessons from my puppy

I know, I know, I've become one of those crazy people who are obsessed with their pets. Who talk and write about them constantly, who make allowances and excuses for them, and everything revolves around them and...

But that's what happens when a small, free-for-the-taking craigslist puppy who, at 13 weeks looks adorable and pint-sized and hard-to-resist comes home and is quiet and sweet. He looked to be about a normal-sized lab, which was fine with me. We'd already done the out-sized ones. Two at once for seven years, two 100 lb labs knocking on the walls, bumping into my legs, squeezing the air out of rooms and cars, and even the backyard, it seemed. This one, this sweet, caramel-colored, already partly trained Kincade wouldn't be that big or overwhelming, which was a good thing, since I'm a whole lot less able-bodied than I used to be with my bum leg, back, life.

How wrong can a person be?
Today Kincade is 7 months old. Exactly.
Today, Kincade weighs 85 pounds, which is larger than the size I was hoping he'd be full-grown.

Today, our sweet, little, quiet puppy still thinks he's a lap dog, loves every person he's ever met, and has hopes to meet every person who's ever lived so he can love on them as well, is sucking more air out of my life than both those big labs combined. Even this moment when he's snoring at my feet, I'm frantically trying to finish this before he finishes his nap. Because once that nap ends, the quest for more loving will start. More playing, more exuberant...well, just plain being. That's it. He's the most exuberant puppy I've ever known (except perhaps for my niece's St. Bernard, Sally. Hmm, I wonder if this joy for people and play and living comes with the size of heart and paws on a puppy?).

because the dang weather was so nice, so perfectly sunny and beautiful for months on end, a major--MAJOR--mistake was made with him. I love having my quiet time out on our back deck when the sun is bright. Even when the air is cooling in autumn. I just bundle up a little more, drink my tea a little hotter and enjoy the word. And intermittantly throw balls and toys to the dogs.  But Kincade is too young to remember any other routine. In fact earlier this week when it rained in earnest, he was bewildered the first time he went to sit on the grass. That wet on his bum startled him so much he instantly shot back up and turned a circle to see what he'd sat on.  He doesn't know rain. And he doesn't know--doesn't accept--that I'm not going out with them in the morning if the sun isn't shining. He mistakenly thinks my life is all about him. His dog-sized brain thinks that all this time the first action of the morning is outside play-time.

There's a whole lot of new training that has to be done now. He's good at sit, stay, come, drop-it, get the ball, OK (meaning he can eat once his food has been put down). He sits when I raise my hand over my head, stays when I put my hand out, does what I ask with a snap of my fingers. He's one smart and obedient dog for all that exuberance. But now he has to learn that play-time is up to ME, not him.  That, actually, most of his life is up to his master's will. That's the point of being my dog, rather than a wild one, isn't it?

Hmm. Sometimes I forget how much I can learn from my dogs.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

I love hearing what my friends are learning from their puppies! I am quite to content to learn it with you, through your posts here! Maybe someday I'll take the plunge and get another puppy...but for now I'll just enjoy your's and Susie's over at RCL. That satisfies my longing for a lapdog and big wet kisses just fine! LOL! Good post, btw. I am happy for you!