Friday, August 3, 2007

A Dog's Life - Part 2

In March, I wrote about the death of our beloved Kirby. We heard from many of you who, after expressing their condolences, related stories about their dogs. It seems that "dog people" love to tell and hear stories about dogs, and most of them have experienced the heartbreak and grief when one of these special animals passes away.

After much thought and consideration of all the pros and cons, we have taken the step of adopting another little bundle of energy into our lives. This past Sunday, we bought a cockapoo, black with a few white markings, a male named Knuckles. Such a macho name for this little guy. Our other dog, Miss Dixie, is not so sure we did the right thing. She tries to ignore and avoid him as much as possible, even when he is inviting her to play in his coy puppy way. He stalks her, lies in the grass and watches her. Then he moves up a few feet, lies down again, and watches some more. Eventually, he gets up and starts running in circles around her, yipping at her. She just watches him and then gets up and moves a few feet away. Sooner or later they will be chasing each other around the backyard and playing tug of war and all the puppy games.

It's been four years since we had a puppy. We tend to forget just how much work they are initially. For relatively painless housetraining, I always take puppies outside whenever they do anything new, right after they wake up, after a play time, after they eat or drink; it's straight outside, saying "Go potty" over and over until they do what they are supposed to do, and then it's high praise and cuddles. We keep our puppies in kennels indoors for most of the time to take advantage of their natural instinct to keep their "bedrooms" clean. Consequently, I am taking Knuckles outside every half hour when he is awake, rain or shine. We also have sleigh bells hanging on our back door. Each time we go outside the bells ring. In a few weeks, he will start ringing the bells himself to have us open the door for him. The bells are loud enough to be heard throughout the house. It is great (also a free burglar alarm) and the older dog helps teach the new one.

It's been in the 90's this week and so I am frequently sweaty and dirty (who can resist getting down on all fours to play with a puppy?) and unable to keep my hair in any decent condition. My clothes are covered with little puppy footprints. This is going to be my life for the next few weeks until he starts to get the idea.

The initial cost of the puppy is just the beginning of the outlay of cash. We had all the puppy accoutrements, small kennel, bowls, leashes, collars, etc. I did get a new cushion for the kennel and a few new toys along with a puppy harness. Trips to the vet will add an expense. In a few months, Knuckles will join the ranks of neutered males and with luck we will be spared some of the more obnoxious male dog habits.

He's a cutie, for sure, and is already worming his way into our hearts. He will never replace our Kirby, just as Dixie didn't replace Jesse, who didn't replace Tasha, who didn't replace Pumpkin, or Zephyr, or Pooh-Bear. I could go on, and on, but I won't. Each dog is loved for his or her own personality quirks and lovability. Our hearts have enough love to go around for all of them.

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