Puppy Stuff & ZZeke Update

I suspect one reason that so many dogs wind up in shelter/rescue situations is that many people just have no idea about what it means to own a puppy. Likely this is the same reason that many children are abused/neglected -- because most of us are ill-prepared for the rigors of parenthood.

Raising a puppy is not unlike having a toddler, and this is why it is usually a really awful idea to get a puppy for the kids -- are children really prepared to raise a toddler?! Now, we all know Alex is an exception -- he is actually ready to go to college and have three children and run a business -- but he is an unusual 11 12 year old and that is why he has Mesa London.

Puppies are hard work for so many reasons. For example, I have already taken Harper out at least five times and I have been up for a whole two hours. So there is the constant need for vigilance and marching outside in the snow and cold so she can develop appropriate potty habits -- this goes on ALL day long. We are on Puppy Schedule -- not our own schedule -- and I swear every time I sit down, it triggers a need for her to go outside.

And so puppies need owners who have the ability to put puppy needs ahead of their own -- this is not a universal trait in humans of any age. The other trait that a puppy owner has to have is the ability to sit calmly with pain and/or frustration. For example, Harper leaps up at me and bites -- usually she just gets a piece of clothing but sometimes she connects with sensitive body parts. What is the appropriate response? I guess we all need to decide that for ourselves but I choose not to react in any way -- except to say "ouch" as needed and/or disengage her locked jaws from my pants or sweatshirt and redirect her -- oh, I also admire her great athletic abilities!

Experience has taught me not to stress about normal puppy behavior -- and puppies bite and chew -- that is in their job description. Harper is never, ever corrected -- for anything. Would we correct a human baby for putting everything in her mouth?! Babies of all kind use their mouths to explore their new world -- it is just unfortunately true that puppy explorers have a mouthful of very sharp teeth.

I let Harper mouth my hands all the time and give her a verbal "ouch" when it hurts -- this helps her develop a soft mouth without causing any fear or discomfort to her. I also redirect her when she is in a wild puppy mood and cannot help but to chomp -- no big deal -- I just give her something else to do, or play tug or something that takes advantage of her frenzy of puppy energy.

The best puppy owners, in my opinion, have the ability to just relax and not make a big deal about stuff. Good puppy owners have the emotional maturity to put puppy needs first for a few months, and they also have a supply of old clothes that can stand a few more little holes. And good puppy owners are not inherently angry or anxious -- but rather can just roll with the punches and know that the worst puppy bite won't hurt as much as the day when that puppy is an old dog and leaves the earth.

I wouldn't mind at all if baby Maize were here and biting me -- but she left Baby Harper behind so I am wrapping that puppy up in everything that is kind, patient, and good-natured -- just like Maize. And I will raise yet another Kaibab puppy without punishment and without any anxiety or fretting about normal puppyhood.  What our puppies get here is gentle understanding about the nature of a puppy, and a chance to be exactly who and what she is -- a puppy.

Barb is a great puppy owner because she is the epitome of relaxed and "go with the flow" -- and that is how she wound up with ZZeke. Barb doesn't stress or worry -- she just handles things -- and I love that about her :) Here is Barb's report on how that cute ZZeke is doing this week...

"Zeke is enjoying his time as a lap dog. He gives sweet kisses. He has a pretty soft mouth and doesn't eat poop. I tried to pick a picture where you could see his gray undercoat.

He is doing a good job in class. I try to do a little practice with him every day.

He loves his walks in the snow.  He has a fort on the deck under the lawn chair.

He is a really sweet gentle soul and we are totally in love with him."

Thanks, Barb -- for the excellent report and for being an excellent puppy home!


by Toby E on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 09:02

Awww, so cute! Holden's coat looks exactly like that, especially now with the snow. He comes in pretty wet and his gray really shows!

by Jennifer G. on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 09:28

This has been a hard week...(not with Mesa/London!). It is sometimes difficult to be in constant contact with people who make poor decisions about their children, but for some reason, this week there were a higher number of families who made the poorer decision to add puppies to that mix and that just really messes things up...for everyone involved. These situations are especially hard for me...I have a soft spot for the dogs with these families! A few of my co-workers told me I would be better suited to work for Animal Control. Animal Control!!? The animals have it figured out. More People Control maybe?

So...I always appreciate your thoughts on raising puppies. They make a lot of sense to me. If more people could raise their children the way you raise puppies....ahhhhh, the thought takes me to a happy place!

And...I should mention that Alex turned 12 on Friday! So he's ready for graduate school now:)

by Carmen K. on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 10:28

I think it is adorable when pups find a den that is unexpected :) Zeke has gotten to be a big boy! And Alex, thank you for your update yesterday and for the pictures of London! What a pair you two make :)

I wish I had this post to read when we got our first puppy, who happens to be Maddie. Having never had a dog before, we really didn't know what raising a puppy fully entailed. Even though I read quite a number of books and articles before hand to prepare for our puppy (some of the information conflicted each other!) we quickly soon realized that we had to adjust all our schedules to puppy's schedule. Though our puppy did not eat poop, she did try to eat everything else and sometimes succeeded, so it caused some stress in the household. We did, however, quickly end up with a de-cluttered home :) Someone asked me two months into it when we were going to get rid of our pup. Shocking! I told her that we had made a commitment and being first-time puppy owners most of the learning and adjustments fell on us, not so much the puppy! And here we are four years later with the same pup that is responsible for a few new pieces in the wardrobe, including a new sandal of mine which I was thankful I bought on sale :)

by Barb on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 12:01

I hope you had a fun birthday!!! We know you already got the best present of all-Mesa! But what else did you get???
Shin protectors? Steel gloves??
Thank you M-A for the nice compliments. I think puppies are like children; when you get older you realize how fast they grow and how time flies. I just want enjoy every day of ZZeke's puppyhood and his cute puppy antics.

by Lois on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 12:07

First some delayed comments as I have been away from electronic access for a few days.
Such beautiful puppies all week to see. And yes, I agree, Alex and Mesa are a perfect match each very lucky to have each other. Zzeke is a handsome boy. I see now from the picture what you mean about the 'grey' puppies. Auggie has a little of that but nowhere near as much. I also see similar long legs and I love his adorable face in his snow den!

M-A, I so agree with your comments. Our home looks like a toddler's home. All the area rugs are rolled up in the garage and the floor is strewn with toys and various items used to distract or fullfill our little guy's energy bursts. Clothes and shoes are a simple price to pay for the gift of our Auggie-Doggie. Rolling with the flow is an easy thing for the most part. My own DH, Paul, is the ultimate easy going guy and I think that has always been a great thing for our dogs (not to mention his years as a single dad!). I find for me the only time I get stressed is when I worry if I am not doing what I need to do to for Auggie to grow up into a welcomed canine citizen (is he not learning to have a 'soft mouth'?? how much is too much?? etc) - so that is when I so appreciate your blogs (and phone calls) and the input of others. Paul and I were talking last night that it was bittersweet to think that when our little land shark went away our adorable little puppy would be going with him as well.

by Lois on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 12:36

Hope it was a special day for you and that Mesa was there to celebrate with you!

by Cousin Julie on Sun, 01/22/2012 - 14:49

What a great idea! Thank you, Barb!!! With my next puppy, I'm gonna add steal toed boots, shin guards, special gloves ect to my list of nessasary supplies, right? Would a helmet be overkill? At least safety goggles...maybe I shouldn't admit this but the vision playing in my mind has me sitting on the floor and I have oven mitts on my hands...TMI? Or...great idea? I think so!
Thanks for your Zzeke photos and updates, too. It's a pleasure to get to enjoy a little bit of puppyhood less the bloodshed! And I couldn't agree more, it really really goes so fast!!! Children and Plumpies. Makes me think about Baby Kai and Heidi Heidi and the overflow of blessings (and sleep deprivation) in that home.
Happy Birthday to Alex, too!!! It's exciting to think about all of lifes experiences and changes and growth he and Mesa will share.
My name is Julie and I am a Plumpieaholic :) that is very grateful for all of you.

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