– James Thurber
I might be getting too old for this.
I mentioned last month we have a new puppy at the house – a freshly recruited playmate and companion for the longtime Top Dog.
Well, I had forgotten about puppies.
Forgotten that they are funny and cute and cuddly, and as entertaining as little comedians.
If you have ever had a bad day, there’s nothing better than coming home, sitting on the edge of a chair and watching a puppy full of energy.
Ours seems to roll almost as often as she runs, which is amazingly fast. She’ll be headed from Point A to Point B, trip or slip and cartwheel a few feet until she regains her paws, bouncing and bounding like it’s all a big game.
It has been fun to watch her engage our older dog, who has gone from visible and growling irritation to what appears to be curious concern whenever his newest little buddy whimpers or slips off to hide.
If we can’t find the little dog, we ask the big dog: “Where is she?”
His ears will perk up, and he’ll trot over to a chair or some other piece of low-sitting furniture and poke his nose in her direction.
I honestly had forgotten about all this fun, but I’d also forgotten that puppies don’t come housebroken.
It’s been eight years since the older dog arrived, and I had somehow been able to push all this into a memory closet I rarely inspect.
That door is now open.
The three house humans have a new duty – keeping watch on the little fur ball. We allow her to play in the living room, and she enjoys going outside, too. But much of the time, when she hasn’t gone to the bathroom for a while, she is being watched like a hawk.
Sometimes she gets what we call the “full Gitmo” – a cell within a jail inside a prison.
She is placed inside a small “crate” doghouse stuffed with old towels. This is set within a plastic baby pen carpeted with “puppy pads” and blocked off from the rest of the house with an adjustable, wooden “child gate” that is stretched its full 8-foot length to wall off the soft den carpet from the easier-to-clean kitchen floor.
My wife – who has done most of the puppy training – says she has learned to detect the subtle signs the small dog makes when she is about to relieve herself. That’s when my wife leaps into action and gets her outside, or at least onto one of the pads.
I, on the other hand, am not so good at picking up these signs. Frankly, the pup looks like she’s always about to go, and I am forever jumping from a chair or couch and rushing her outside, only to watch her sniff grass for 15 minutes.
“We’re getting there,” my wife says, encouraging our training diligence.
(Soon, I hope.)