Last night I went to my first in-person, without-masks meeting. It was lovely gathering together, enjoying our combined energy and face-to-face camaraderie. Then one person asked me how our dogs were. Rather than reel off a list of some of our current challenges, I said, “They have been very naughty,” and laughed. A lot of the time, I don’t think their antics are funny, so maybe it was giddiness of not meeting on Zoom—or maybe it was the wine.
Whatever it was, I have to acknowledge the pups are truly wonderful—most of the time. They are very loving, funny, intuitive, and companionable, which is what it is all about. But there are times when you want to say to one or the other (or both), “What were you thinking?” The thing is that they aren’t thinking. First, because they are dogs, and second, because they are adolescents. However, there are also times when they show an amazing array of strategic cogitation.
The other day I read about a one-year-old dachshund, Max, who had “cicada fever.” Outside he consumed gobs of the insects, and while they are loaded with protein, they also have a lot of undigestible parts. Max, who was fully potty trained before the flying feast arrived, suddenly started leaving large messes on the family room carpeting. Owner and pet finally came to a solution … sort of. However, Max is still leaving messes on the family room floor.
There are other stories closer to home. Our friends Lois and Luis went camping at the beach last weekend with their doxies, Kirby and Mr. Schnitzel. Kirby discovered the joy of eating sand crabs, which resulted in vomiting throughout the night. The next day, loads of small gelatinous creatures had washed ashore. Before her humans could stop her, Kirby snaffled up a few. The local ranger was consulted. He told Lois and Luis that the creatures were jellyfish and, with a very worried look, said, “Well, keep an eye on her. Good luck!” The feast resulted in diarrhea for two days.
But that’s not all. The last night of their trip, Lois and Luis were playing games with family and enjoying the campfire, thinking the furry ones were asleep in their RV. When they decided to turn in, Lois discovered the pups were having a party of their own. The trash can (filled with the remains of a chicken dinner, corn casserole, and bits of glass from the broken casserole dish) had been left on the floor: a feast for vigilant pups who just wait for human error. As Lois said, “I do not know how (except for divine intervention) both wieners survived the weekend.” More to the point, I don’t know how Lois and Luis survived the weekend!
And now we are at our house. Yesterday John prepared an area for planting. He raked out all the rocks and enriched the soil. Today Sadie and Teddy rearranged the soil and dug lovely deep holes. I’m surprised they didn’t leave a fecal deposit—it’s just fertilizer—but the day is not over. That activity was followed by their daily fence fight with the dogs next door, which sounds like the hounds of the Baskervilles having a particularly vicious family feud. Luckily, the joy in that activity is beginning to subside, since they can no longer see each other. A few minutes ago, I caught Sadie, who usually prefers eating sticks, munching a poisonous iris bloom.
All this makes me wonder how these creatures survive.
Right now, they are having their midmorning snooze. They look so sweet and innocent, and I’m thinking about how they seem to know when I need a cuddle or a warm pup to hold. They welcome me home lavishly when I’ve only been gone ten minutes, and always tolerate my crazy behavior. Maybe the God who gave us these complex creatures includes a few extra guardian angels for human and canine alike. And maybe that’s how we all survive puppy adolescence.