Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The reality of puppies

The reality of puppies is that they suck up a frighteningly huge amount of time. If Banner is loose in the house he has to be watched 100 percent of the time. Not like “watching the puppy while watching TV” or “watching the puppy and catching up on Facebook.” I mean WATCHING THE PUPPY. Don’t take your eyes off the little begger or he’ll have something inappropriate in his mouth. Like Phoenix’s tail. This is why the Farmer does not watch the puppy.

The alternative to WATCHING THE PUPPY is putting the puppy in his crate. This allows me to function as a normal human being and try to catch up on the 295 little household chores that have not been done because I’ve spent most of my waking time for the last four weeks WATCHING THE PUPPY.  Which accounts for the marked lack of blog posts lately. Sorry.

In order for puppies to learn house manners, they need to be allowed access to the house, or at least a small part thereof. And they need a responsible person to watch them. Know how when you have a medical procedure done and they tell you to bring a “responsible person” with you? I always think you should bring someone who is capable of watching a puppy. Which pretty much eliminates the Farmer but we’ve been married 23 years and I’m still alive. Maybe watching me is easier than watching a puppy.

I digress.

So far, the only bad thing about having a summer puppy is that we spend all our time running around outdoors and not a great deal of progress is being made on house manners ­­— unlike my cold-dark-raining-snowy-ice puppies who learned house manners from the git-go because we spent all our time in the house.

This is where the big time suck comes in. I very much love teaching baby dog obedience exercises but there is a ton of other stuff Banner needs to learn just to be a functioning member of our household - wait at gates and doors, don’t pee in the house, don’t eat the rugs, don’t eat the shoes, how to go up and down stairs, be quiet in a crate, don’t jump on me, don’t jump on your brother’s head (shoulders, back, tail, etc.), don’t drag things off the table, OUCH LET GO OF MY PAJAMA LEG, don’t eat the recliner, don’t eat that nasty dead thing the cats left in the yard, don’t tip over the poop bucket, don’t splash in the kitchen water bowl, let me brush you, let me look at your teeth, let me clip your nails. Some days, it’s a wonder I get anything else done.

I understand why some trainers like to get adult dogs and bypass the “wonder years” of biting, peeing and attempting to commit suicide by jumping on the heads of adult dogs who are not terribly impressed with the idea of puppies.

On that front, Phoenix has truly become the poster child for Big Brother Of The Year.


Would I joke about something like this?

I would not joke about something like this.


It took Phoenix four weeks before he showed even the slightest interest in Banner. I have never seen a dog ignore another dog with such complete conviction that he could make the other dog disappear simply by refusing to acknowledge him. He didn’t want to look at the puppy. He didn’t want to sniff the puppy. He sure as hell didn’t want to play with the puppy.

For the first few weeks, I took the dogs outside to potty one at a time. If they went out together, Banner had to be on a leash to keep him from doing something stupid, like a full frontal head pounce with a half twist and withers bounce. The Belgian judge would have given him very low marks. He might have given him toothmarks.

Banner was fascinated by Phoenix. He was The Big Dog. He was cool. He had the most wonderfully enchanting tail. Totally. Wonderfully. Enchanting. Tail.

Pursuit of that tail was one of the reasons I kept Bann on leash for a long time. A very long time. Sneak attacks on your housemate’s tail is not going to endear you to him.

By the time Phoenix deigned to play with him, Banner had decided the Big Dog was kind of scary, at worse, and kind of a jerk, at best. He’d been snarked at a couple of times and had developed a healthy respect for Phoenix, following him around the yard at a distance, like a small determined paparazzi.

Phoenix’s initial play bows were received with justifiable suspicion. Granted, malinios play bows being what they are, discretion was probably the better part of valor. Phoenix tends to launch into the air and slam all 53 pounds of bone, muscle and sinew back to earth, front legs splayed, tail wagging crazily and a manical look in his eye. The first time he did it, Banner screamed and ran. Phoenix looked at me like, “Okay, seriously, I didn’t do anything to him.”

Things have progressed from there.

Now Banner chases Phoenix merrily around the yard, with Phoenix looking over his shoulder to make sure his little buddy is still in tow. Phoenix tolerates the head pounces and other full body contact with good grace. He even lets Banner take toys away from him. Phoenix will clean his teeth and submit to having his teeth cleaned. They’re not snuggling up and singing Kum-Ba-Yah together but Phoenix actually seems to enjoy having a little sidekick.

Finally. Praise Jesus. For a brief time, I wondered if we were going to end up as one of those segregated “one dog loose at a time” houses.

Now that I trust them enough to let them be loose together, I hope to find the time to get some photos.


  1. Glad to hear Phoenix is tolerating his new buddy. While Swyatt was older when we rescued him, he very much had the social skills of a naughty puppy. My older and wiser 5 yr old lab mix wanted nothing to do with the energetic psycho 50lb lab. A year plus later and she tolerates him, will on occasion engage in tug, likes to chase him and may even give him an ear cleaning on occasion. =)

  2. We've had two puppies here at different times this last year and it has been a madhouse. Nothing is safe around here, especially us.

  3. I have the puppy blues, read your blog from 2014, and could totally relate. Miserable is how I feel. Pup will be 8 weeks old on Monday. I've had him 10 days.