Puppy Peccadillos

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

It had been about a year since we said goodbye to Louie, our yellow Lab who didn't quite make it to his 10th birthday. We still talked about him multiple times each week. My kids continued to include him in the preamble of their nighttime prayers: "Thank you for Mommy, Daddy, Liam, Maggie and the puppy dog."

I missed him, but I'll admit there were some nice things about not having a dog. For one, the lack of hair; if no one vacuumed for a week, dog-hair tumbleweeds didn't line the hallways. Vet bills disappeared. And when we traveled out of town, the only arrangements to be made were for Maggie's beta fish, Unicorn Sparkle Sunshine ("Uni" for short).

Our family wasn't quite the same, though. Maggie, in particular, made various attempts to fill the canine void. First she made a papier-mâché dog, painted it yellow and named it Louie. She then asked for a set of "Peekaboo Puppies" for Christmas, and after receiving some Christmas money, she bought an animatronic stuffed dog. Then she bought another.

It wasn't just Maggie. I've had a canine companion the vast majority of my life, so I was feeling some dog withdrawal, too.

As you've probably guessed by now, we got a new dog. Her name is Rosie, and she's a rescued mutt (the mom was a beagle; the dad was a one-night stand who took off before anyone could lay eyes on him). Rosie, who was 8 weeks old when I brought her home, is impossibly cute - a ruddy brown with white paws, white muzzle and stripe atop her head and just a dab of white frosting on the tip of her tail.

We got Louie when he was 1, and my last experience with a puppy was as a pre-teen, so there was a lot I didn't remember about training a puppy. This is a good thing, because if I'd remembered everything that went into taking care of a puppy, I may not have said yes to Rosie. She's well-loved in our family and a bona fide celebrity at the kids' school, but the world is her chew toy: fingers, toes, ankles, hair, jeans, shoes, furniture, dish towels, bath towels, bathmats, toys, toy bins, pillows, couch cushions, chair cushions, human posterior cushions and everything underneath the bed.

I stupidly thought that since I had now raised two kids from birth to chore-chart age, a puppy couldn't be much harder. I thought it would be like a newborn, but easier. Turns out it's nothing like a newborn. It's like a furry toddler with a pathological biting problem who also likes to eat poop.

To be fair, Rosie has done exceptionally well with housetraining. And for her age, she sleeps pretty well in her crate at night. She even alerted me to a backyard intruder one night. She's learning to sit and to come. And when she's tuckered out, she loves laps more than anything in the world.

Those lap moments are essential. They're memory erasers. The psycho puppy who eats away at my productivity and my house gets lost somewhere in my brain folds, magically replaced with this sleeping creature, who couldn't possibly be the same puppy who was just violently assaulting the spines of my record collection … right?

-Joel Oliphint is a freelance writer known around the neighborhood by his new catchphrase,"No bite!"