>Puppy Love

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A Yorky-poo puppy named Libby shares my days.

I suppose I could say, “I own a puppy,” or “I have a puppy,” but saying she “shares my days” more accurately reflects reality.

She often gets me up from my chair, she frequently gets me out through the door, and she often gets me thinking throughout the day.

Sometimes the thing she gets me thinking is, “What was I thinking?”

You see, I’m a writer. And a writer needs large blocks of uninterrupted time for concentration and contemplation. Writing takes focus. And—as my wise second son told me—pets take a lot of focus. Although our four children had many pets when they were growing up, I didn’t really understand the level of focus required for taking care of and training a puppy until Libby came to live.

So you can understand why there are many days—sometimes several times a day—when I ask myself, “Why did I ever get a puppy? What was I thinking?”

Libby is able to sleep on my lap for lengthy stretches, but she often stands up and begins licking my face, which means, “I need to go out right now!” This is inevitably when I am in the middle of a sentence that seems to be going somewhere significant.

At times she will be content to worry a chew toy or tear the fiberfill out of a stuffed toy on the floor of my office, but before long she will jump up and down batting my thigh with her two front paws in her best “Timmy fell down the well” Lassie imitation.

This could mean, “I’m hungry,” or “I’m thirsty,” or “I’m bored and I want you to play with me,” but it could also mean, “I need to go out right now!” If it were any of the first three, one could wait a few minutes, but with a puppy one never knows—it could have the last meaning, and a puppy who weighs only four and a half pounds is bound to have a miniscule bladder with which one wouldn’t want to take chances.

Then there’s also the fact that I have to travel quite often for work. What to do with Libby when I travel? I don’t want to board her in a commercial kennel that won’t give her individual attention and training that is consistent with what I provide. She is very good about ringing her little bell beside the door before we go outside; she obligingly runs up the open stairway so I don’t even have to lean down to put on or take off her leash. And—this is the best part—she knows I’m busy and can’t spend a lot of time fooling around, so when we go outside, she almost always gets right down to business. I don’t want her to lose any of those important gains while being confined to a boarder’s kennel. And I don’t want her exposed to bad habits, bad dogs, or bad germs. Am I a bit overprotective? Possibly. I hope my kids aren’t reading this.

My daughter, who has Libby’s sister from an earlier litter, is willing to take Libby for short term stays, but I don’t want to impose on her and her husband’s good graces too often or for too long. And having both dogs can be a little chaotic since the two “play” fiercely when they’re together. And they sometimes distract each other from obeying commands. As my husband says, “When you have one dog, you have a pet; when you have two dogs, you have two dogs.”

Since Libby is just a puppy, she does puppy things. She will occasionally leave puppy spoor on the carpet. She will occasionally further shred worn carpet edges (it’s needed replacing for years, but we haven’t been able to afford new carpet and now I’m thinking we might as well wait a little longer). In short, I can’t trust that when I think she’s innocently dozing in the sun by the sliding glass door that she will, in fact, be doing only that. Even when I’m not trying to write, I have to always think about her and make sure I have her location pinned in my mind. In some ways, it’s almost worse than a child.

But in other ways, it’s better than a child. I can put Libby in her crate when I have to leave home. I can put Libby in her crate when I’m tired of her distractions and think it’s time for her to take a nice long nap. Try doing that with a child and it won’t be long before child protection service knocks on your door!

Other than getting put in her crate sometimes when she’d rather run free, Libby has a pretty good life. She snoozes on a fat lap most of the day. She goes outside as often as she likes to do her thing and chase bugs. She eats healthy small bites puppy food (veterinary approved!) at a whopping $13.00 for a five-pound bag. (That’s a whole lot more than I’d pay for a five-pound bag of sugar.) She gets regular baths, regular ear cleaning, regular hair combing, regular trips to the groomers, and regular trips to the vet.

But I’m beginning to see ways that Libby is good for me. She gets me off my seat and outside regularly every day. While she sniffs around in the grass and does her business, I sniff the fresh air and watch the dawning sun gild the edges of quivering cottonwood leaves or find a female redstart flitting about in the shrubbery or see the sun glint on the white head of a bald eagle soaring high in the blue sky. Almost every time I pause to enjoy and thank God for the moment, I find new creative thoughts crowding into my mind. And I am blessed.

I’m not only blessed by regularly enjoying the beauty of God’s creation and receiving his gifts of creativity, but I’m also blessed by an important lesson I’m learning from Libby. No matter how we treat her or how often we put her in her crate, she loves us with her whole puppy personality. She is always thrilled to see us and likes nothing better than spending time with us. She particularly loves exposed or sweaty skin. My husband says she can’t control her licker (which is much funnier when it’s spoken).

Libby is a visual aid lesson in unconditional love.

That lesson reminds me of this bizarre joke my brother-in-law told:
How can you tell if your wife or your dog loves you more?
Put them both in the trunk of your car and drive around for an hour. Then let them out and see which one is happy to see you.

Like all outlandish jokes, it’s funny because of its underlying truth.

Few creatures demonstrate unconditional love as well as a puppy.
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3 thoughts on “>Puppy Love

  1. >Thank you!!We are not ready to be “pet people” yet, but we do enjoy other people’s pets… especially the cute ones and she sure is a cutie!

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