Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Puppy For Sale

No! Just kidding! Bisou is the light of my life. However, like all the beings who light up one's life, she has her dark side too. She's four months old, and growing in grace and beauty in many ways. In other ways, she's going to hell in a handbasket.

Two and a half years ago, I was going through Wolfie's puppyhood in the midst of a hard winter—not an easy time, but I remember it as easier than this. Was I that much younger then? One thing I know for sure: by the time he was four months old, he was three times bigger than Bisou is now. He was expected to be smart—he was a German-bred German Shepherd, after all--and we were all extremely concerned not to encourage habits that would become intolerable in a 95lb, scary-looking dog.

Bisou, on the other hand, is small, and cute, and no one will ever be threatened by her. But don't let her dainty looks deceive you. She's every bit the dog that Wolfie is, and she's not giving any signs of becoming “just a lap dog.”

Let us look at the positive side first. Bisou's GI system seems to have settled somewhat and she no longer needs to go outside 97 times/day—only 25 times or so, and believe me, it makes a difference in my life. Also, she can go out on her own, and comes back happily if I hold a piece of puppy kibble out to her. She was sleeping through the night until the time change changed everything. She holds a stay while I put her food dish down. And she has the best eye contact of any dog I've ever known.

But little dogs grow fast, and Bisou is exhibiting clear pre-teen behaviors. When she came to us at nine weeks, she was a fabulous retriever, running after anything you threw and bringing it faithfully back. Not anymore. How silly, how infantile, I can hear her thinking, to assume that you have to return that ball or bone when you can keep it for yourself and kill it over and over again.

Gone too are the days when her greatest joy was to follow me around the house or yard. Now her greatest joy is to see how far away she can get from me, how long she can resist my call, how much exotic poop (deer, rabbit, bird, etc.) she can sniff and, alas, dive into.

Her father is a Mach IV Agility Champion, which I guess is a good thing. In Bisou's daily life, however, this heritage translates into jumping up on sofas, and from there onto occasional tables. The conjugal bed? No problem. She leaps up on her crate and flies over the gap between it and my warm body.

She came with a trousseau of tiny puppy toys from her breeder, all but one of which have mysteriously disappeared. Instead she prefers Wolfie's toys—stone-hard beef bones, a rubber bone that's as long as she is, and, best of all, the teat attachment from a milking machine (the quintessential Vermont puppy toy). She likes furniture, too—there's nothing like the crunch of the bentwood rocking chair, especially after it's been sprayed with Bitter Apple. And she loves to pull the computer cord out of the socket. I know, I know. Danger of electrocution. But she's faster than I am, and sometimes I just have to blink.

She's developing her vocal repertoire—mostly whines and pitiful complaints at being crated. But yesterday, sitting on my lap inside the house, she alerted to the nine deer in the front field and barked so loudly that they gave up and retreated into the woods.

What obedience skills, you ask, has she developed lately? Can she sit? Yes, sometimes. Will she lie down on command? Maybe—I haven't tried that in a while. Does she walk calmly on a loose leash? Hah! In your (and my) dreams.

I think we have a case here of second-child syndrome. You know, the first child—Wolfie--gets the full brunt of the parent's best intentions. He is watched, corrected, disciplined, brought up strictly by the book. By the time the second child arrives, the parent has mellowed, or gotten old, or gotten tired. She watches with a half smile as the second child evolves, hoping for the best. And sometimes gets it.

9 comments :

  1. i'm sorry, but all this is doing is making me want a puppy something fierce.

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  2. This is making me not want a puppy something fierce. More power to all of you :-)

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  3. Four months old already! Time does fly!

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  4. At the puppy class today the trainer said, "You've got an alpha bitch there, and she's going to test you every way she can." And all I wanted was a docile little Cavalier....

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  5. That would make sense because you probably picked out the most spirited puppy!

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  6. mrb, as it turned out, she was the only female available. And because she was a Cavalier, it never occurred to me that she would be so intense.

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  7. Females are often the most spirited and determined ;-)

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