Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the following conversation about, oh, 67 times or so …
Friend: “So … what’s new?”
Dave: “Well, Merry and I got a puppy …”
Friend: “Really? What kind?”
Dave: “It’s a Shichon—a mix between a Shih Tzu and a Bichon Frise.”
If friend is female: “Oh, how cute!”
If friend is male: “Sounds like a pretty small dog.”
Dave: “It’s a little ball of fluff … and it’s taking over our house!”
If friend is female: “Do you have a picture?”
If friend is male: “So … did you watch that Razorbacks game on Saturday?”
Our previous dog died back in March from some ailment undoubtedly connected to 10 years of obsessively chasing balls at full speed down the wooden steps from our second-floor deck. Suddenly we were without a dog for the first time in over 20 years. With our two daughters grown up and married, the house seemed oddly quiet. It was strange to go days and weeks without speaking in that strange, silly voice that otherwise-intelligent adults use when speaking to pets.
Well, now the silly voices are back in full force. Our harsh voices have also returned, as in “Bailey, no!” and “Ow! Bad dog!”
I guess you could say that getting a puppy is what Merry and I needed to force ourselves out of a nice, peaceful, sedentary lifestyle. Puppies are lots of fun, but we had forgotten how much work is required to raise one. It affects dozens of decisions every day.
This little ball of fluff is actually a tyrant in disguise. He demands most of our attention day and night, and he has more energy than we had, combined, at age 30. He bites and chews everything within reach; so far I’ve sacrificed an old pair of shoes and some slippers to the cause.
I think I’ll appreciate Bailey more when he’s a little less frenzied. In the meantime Merry and I are relearning old lessons about patience, perseverance, and the value of teamwork. A verse like Ecclesiastes 4:9—“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil”—takes on new levels of meaning when working together to housetrain a dog.
We also figure that training Bailey is helping prepare us for the next phase of our marriage—becoming grandparents. That adventure begins in a few months …