Puppy love tests our patience but it has its rewards

Nancy Farley Published:

Well, Henry, our mutt of a puppy, has been with us for over a month now, and life has not been the same since he arrived.  Even though he is primarily an outside dog, given the fact he has a whole farm to use for his playground, he manages to stay near our house most of the time, lying on the porch, waiting for one of us to come out and spend time with him as we so often do.
He seems to be able to run faster each day, his long hound ears flapping in the breeze, and his soft pink tongue flowing out from pearly white teeth.  He is a young, strong and beautiful little dog who has already found his way into my heart, causing me to linger on the porch as I hold him in my arms and rock him in the chair like a baby.
 He has a squeaky toy, bones and a rubber snake, but I found that snake lying in tiny pieces one morning, along with stuffing from one of the patio chairs he tore apart sometime in the night. As I was picking that up, I noticed some fresh teeth marks on the rocking chair and feathers from a large bird. Now, I am not sure if that bird just dropped the feathers or if my dog somehow dropped that bird. I really don’t want to know. But, the best part happened last week when my grandson came running in breathlessly saying, “Come and see what Henry caught.”  Lying on my porch was a real snake – a dead one thank goodness, and there stood Henry looking proudly into our faces as if to say, “Look what I did!” I suppose he will be in competition now with those large hawks that swoop down from time to time and carry snakes off into the wild blue yonder.  But that’s okay, for no matter which one gets them, it will be fine with me.
Henry seemed to be excited when we got the pool out for the grandkids and began filling it for the long holiday weekend. He kept grabbing the filter and other parts, running around as if to tease us as we scrambled to put our shoes on a ledge where he could not carry them off too. That puppy, however, was not to be outdone. The next morning while I was waiting for my coffee to perk, I looked out in the early morning light and there was Henry sitting in the middle of the pool, enjoying his morning bath before running to the porch for his breakfast. After he eats he comes over for his pat on the head, and then he rolls over on his back, asking for his tummy to be rubbed.  He is one spoiled dog, but I am happy to be the “spoiler.”
 Knowing that this little guy is going to be destructive for probably another year, I decided to remove the cushions from the chairs we set by the pool whenever we go into the house. And so, last night as I was taking them in through the basement I realized we had one old chair down there, one we never use, but one my husband decided he did not want to throw away. In the evening sunlight that was streaming through I could see the old teeth marks, not from Henry, but from nearly 30 years ago when we got our first dog, Crystal Ann. She had ruined a few things in her puppyhood days too, but we kept that old chair as a reminder, just as we have an old table in the attic also full of teeth marks, not from a dog, but from our daughter. I don’t think we will ever part with those “unusable items,” not because we are pack rats; we are not. No, sometimes it is just good to keep certain things to remind us to stay calm, even when a new puppy goes on a path of destruction, for we know how quickly it all ends. Those puppies grow into dogs; they give us unconditional love and joy, and then they leave us. And those children. Well, they too bring love and joy, along with scarred furniture, even broken hearts. And then, one day we turn around and they too are grown, leaving us to ask that familiar question, “Where did the time go?”
 And so, we will love and enjoy our Henry every day that we have him, smile each time we pat his head and play with those floppy ears, and applaud each time he kills a snake or any other unwanted critter that could destroy our garden. And then one day when it is all ended, perhaps we will add that old rocking chair he is now ruining to our inventory of memorabilia.

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