So, several weeks ago, my wife and I are reviewing health insurance options and we came up with a reasonably decent idea from a slew of poopy options. Rather than pay exorbitant monthly premiums to an American Health Insurance Conglomerate (and yes, we know that even Health Insurance Conglomerates need love), we elected instead to get a puppy. We ordered up a sweet little English Golden Retriever and we brought him home four weeks ago. Here’s his picture at eight weeks old:
Also, after his sister Lulu went over the wall and never returned, Archie the kitty has been disconsolate; a puppy seemed like a good pal to protect him from the coyotes, raccoons and other alpha cats in the neighborhood. Oh, and did I mention the fact that anyone ambling down Main Street with a Bodie-puppy in tow is an automatic Chick Magnet?
Cuteness is As Cuteness Does
Having had my last puppy probably 20 years ago though, a lot of what’s involved in raising one, I’ve apparently long forgotten. Like many, but not all babies, the primary thing Bodie has going for him is…the Cuteness Factor. Truth be told, however, there’s a lot that puppies DON’T have going for them.
First of all, they don’t wear diapers. As a result a lot of puppy waste product ends up finding its way all over the kitchen floor, the back deck and the neighbor’s perfectly manicured lawn. In order to responsibly address the matter, I just put in a rush order for a large box of Mutt Mitts at Amazon.com.
Another thing that seems to be true about puppies that I forgot, is that they love to chew. Anything. Asphalt shingles (from my reroof in progress), the rubber dishwasher liner, wooden drawer handles, the laces on my sneakers.… Grrrrr. Like many babies, Bodie has way more toys than he could ever destroy. His current favorite is the Wubba Bubba – a fuzzy bear with octopus-like tentacles, currently in the process of being torn and shaken to shreds. Not only is Wubba Bubba good for managing Bodie’s stress levels, but this study suggests having him around the house is supposedly good for lowering my stress levels as well. I’m not so sure about that.
The Master’s Mind is Unpredictable When Highjacked
Similar to children, Bodie invites deep mindfulness practice. On a daily basis I find myself constantly being called to mindfully attend to Anger Arising – like when he nips my ankles for the 20th time, exerting 150-200 pounds of pressure per square inch. It’s a challenge to manage the strong urge to give him a swift boot in the butt when his bite shoots a reactive impulse from my stomach-brain to my leg. He’s lucky I’ve only lost it once so far, putting any one of his 321 puppy bones at risk. If he keeps it up though, he’s likely to not be one of those million American dogs mentioned as beneficiaries in their owner’s will.
In many ways, Bodie mirrors my own brain/mind. He and it are sooo easily distracted. I explain to him just before our morning and evening walk that this will not be a wander-wherever-you-want exploratory excursion. This will be a disciplined exercise walk … over to the abandoned golf course and back. That’s the deal. No rooting grubs or smelling scotchbroom or jasmine, or wandering out into the middle of the road to gnaw on the Botts Dots. None of that. Down and back. We’re building out Executive Function here, pooch, attempting to validate Plato’s observation that a dog has the heart of a philosopher. Yeah, right.
All We Need is Love, Wah, Wah, Wa, Wa, Wa
One place where puppies do have it over children is in the realm of unconditional love. Mostly. A kind word, a playful pat and a bowl of puppy chow and Bodie is once again full of in-the-moment affection. Try that with a teenager or a Gen-Yer. Oh, and have I mentioned loyalty? Or Bodie’s ability to scent out danger or insect invaders? Or how he never asks, “What’s for dinner?” He knows what’s for dinner. It’s the same “what’s” he had for breakfast and lunch: puppy chow.
By now you’re probably beginning to realize that puppies are harder to raise than children … mostly for me. And that’s primarily because I’m way past the time when the emotional capacity to raise a child is even within the realm of possibility. If one of the cutest animals on earth sends me into a tailspin, just think at this late date how much damage I might inevitably do to a helpless human puppy!