“I just didn’t see myself here at this time in my life,” my husband, John, said with an expression that would have done a bloodhound proud. It was the kind of day in the life of a puppy owner when you ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” This was supposed to be our year to travel. We had five trips and three destination weddings planned. Our puppies were coming in winter next year—after our wanderlust was satisfied.
Then the world was rocked by COVID-19, and suddenly, we were in lockdown. So we thought this would be a perfect time to get a puppy … and we got two.
Although John’s comment had been triggered by the particularly naughty behavior of Sadie and Teddy, I think it was more a statement about the whole sorry and unpredictable turn our lives had taken. It was at this point that the two miscreants decided to go sit on John’s feet. He bent over and twiddled their ears. They responded by jumping up on his legs begging to be held and cuddled. Within minutes they had him wrapped around their little dewclaws, licking his stubbly beard and shamelessly simpering in his lap.
Everyone loves a puppy, right? And a puppy loves everybody. Then they start growing at a phenomenal rate. Suddenly the sweet puppy breath is gone, the downy fur is coarser, and the innocent eyes get a willful and knowing glint. This is where we are now. Looking at my furry babies, I realize they really aren’t babies anymore. A human this age would be called pubescent. I can see adolescence looming on the horizon. I can’t say I was crazy about my children’s teen years, and I’m not sure I’m going to like canine adolescence much better.
But here is the difference: human adolescence is a several-year torturesome process, while puppy adolescence (which starts at six months) lasts only until they are two or three. Yes, I just read that from several sources. I guess I should be thankful that I have small dogs, so the process may be shorter. I’ll add that to my prayer list.
Now I don’t want you to think that Sadie and Teddy are maturing into juvenile delinquents. They are really developing on several fronts rapidly. Their childhood misdeeds are becoming more creative, like pushing the temporary fencing to denude the rose bushes and opening the cupboard with their shovel noses to unroll the paper towels and eat an old sponge. On the more positive side, they can now do games with hidden pieces of kibble with a little more finesse. They will also work tenaciously at pulling the squeaky toy monkeys out of the banana and triumphantly squeeze them until our ears ring.
Their curiosity is interesting to watch. Well, in truth, you better watch because if it is dangerous, they will find it. Even if you don’t think it is dangerous, it could be. I never thought dental floss was dangerous, but we just had an encounter with dental floss that happily passed naturally. You will be glad to know it was unused.
Another sign our pups are maturing is their expanding repertoire of emotions. Being dachshunds, Sadie and Teddy have quite expressive faces. Guilt is the look I saw the morning that someone peed on the brand-new dog bed. Since they were both wearing guilty expressions, I’m not certain who was the culpable canine. (By the way, this is bed number five—sneaky teething dispatched the other four.)
There are more types of barking now—and just more barking, period. We dim-witted humans are trying to decode these verbal expressions.
Sadly, we saw Teddy express fear twice. It was hard to figure out, since he was hiding in a corner and shaking, and there was no visible threat that we could see. The first monster was the barbecue. More recently it was the air conditioner. Since it was 103F degrees outside, he just had to weather it (pardon the awful pun). We made his little corner comfy, comforted him frequently, and in no time at all he was okay.
Sadie and Teddy now show concern for one another … when they aren’t busy wrestling, biting, and chasing each other. A few days ago, when Sadie was having her bath in the sink, Teddy whimpered by our feet. When it was his turn, Sadie took off—towel and all. Later, when Teddy was having a nightmare, whimpering and moving his hind legs, Sadie went over to him and licked him gently awake.
The best, though, are the loving looks they give us. If you have a dog, you know what I’m talking about. It’s when they gaze at you like you are not just the moon and the stars but the universe. It touches our hearts, and then we know why we started on this insane puppy adventure in the first place.
I wonder if they will still do that when they are adolescents …