A Tender Distance: Letters from Mothers to Our Sons

Puppy Adventures: Part II

August 29th, 2014 by

 

Earlier this summer I wrote about my son’s family and the birth of a litter of Labrador retriever puppies. Their household of six (including mother dog) grew almost instantly to thirteen with the birth of seven little loaves of canine sweetness.

Terrorists at large.

That was ten weeks ago. Things have changed.

I know several of the people who took pups from the litter and their adorable bundles of have quickly grown into whirlwinds of happy energy. A friend, Ingrid, approached me at church on Sunday and I sensed she was mentally wringing her hands.

“So, how long do Labrador puppies chew on things?” she asked. They’d only had the pup a couple of weeks. I didn’t know how to tell her that this stage could last up to two years.  She mentioned she couldn’t get a thing done unless the pup was taking a nap.

Ingrid and Vern are gentle, quiet, law-abiding citizens. Labrador retriever puppies are none of those things. They are terrorists.

Their names are Floyd, Mitzy, Dozer, Pistol, Karley, Nelchina, and Bane.

They chew, bark, piddle, cry, and make a magnificent nuisance of themselves as they learn to adapt to family life. During the first couple of months having a puppy is like having an infant with teeth and claws. Puppies have an insatiable curiosity which puts them squarely in the diaper pail, the trash bin, and that box of historic family photos you forgot was sitting in the corner. Their baby teeth are being pushed from behind by adult teeth, so their little mouths need to CHEW. Things like computer cords and expensive running shoes and antique table legs are exactly the right medium for scratching that itch. Yum.

Pistol’s owner brought her and their older dog Oreo to work the other day and Pistol spent hours harassing the older dog. Everything was a game. When Oreo got up, Pistol bounced along, pulling on the old girl’s ears, biting her tail, and body slamming her—just as she had with her litter mates. When Oreo had finally had enough, she schooled Pistol by snapping and rolling her forcefully to the ground. Pistol got up, shook off the dust, and resumed her antics.

One family complained that they have not had more than three hours of continuous sleep since they brought their baby home. Since they work, the pup sleeps most of the day and is up and ready to raise Cain much of the night.

My son, Erik, and daughter-in-law, Ashlee, are pleased that the puppies all went to kind and responsible homes. The day the pups left for their new family homes, my nine-year-old grandson, Elias, was heartbroken that the babies had to leave their mother. I know how he felt. I shed tears when my kids left home too.

Ashlee was telling me the other day how nice it was to have one puppy rather than seven in the house. We commented that at least the baby phase of puppies didn’t last that long. Soon everyone’s pups will mature into beloved members of the family.

Meanwhile, however, there will likely be some mishaps. Ashlee had their kids plus a couple of extra at home the other day when their pup, Nelchina, went to the door to be let outside so she could relieve herself. Everyone was downstairs playing and the robotic Roomba vacuum cleaner was going; no one heard whether she whined to be let out or not.  The pup had no choice but to leave a pile in front of the door. Unfortunately, the robotic vacuum discovered the pile before Ashlee did. The robot plowed through the stinky deposit and then proceeded to systematically, room by room, distribute puppy poop throughout the rest of the house.

Ashlee said it could well be the biggest cleaning disaster she’s ever encountered. Poor dear. May their puppy stage quickly pass.

 

 

 

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