Life with a new puppy is really a lot like life with a new baby. I'm not altogether certain I was completely aware of that fact before we got the puppy. Having said that, however, I can tell you that I'm really pleased with how it's all working out so far.
Tuffynamed by my husband, and short for "tough guy"really is a bit of a tough guy, lately. He's become very protective of his family. If there is a sound he doesn't recognize, or if he is startled, he sets to growling, and sometimes even barking. Not only that, he gets all puffed up (his fur actually stands on end) and he places himself between us and whatever monsters may be about to break down the door.
This little, not quite three-pound creature of mostly fluffy fur truly has the heart of a lion.
He's also very adaptable, and he likes his routine. This is a blessing for me, because the one thing I was worried about was that being home with the little guy every day while my beloved headed off to work would infringe on my writing time.
So far, that's not happening. Yes, I know. I crossed my fingers and knocked on wood as I wrote that.
Tuffy gets up for the first time at 4:15 a.m. when the alarm goes off. He is happily scooped from his play pen on wheels that is in our bedroom over nightno mere `crate' for this little guyand he lays on the sofa with my husband until 4:45 a.m. Then it's time for breakfast and a bit of a play while his daddy gets ready for work. Sometimes, if my daughter doesn't have any clients first thing in the morning after dropping off her dad, she'll bring one or more of her puppies with her when she comes to pick him up. So that gives the tough guy a few minutes of romping play with one or two of his buddies, as well.
While all this is happening, I am completely oblivious, because I am still in bed, asleep. Then when my beloved leaves for work, he puts Tuffy back into his playpen. The little guy settles right down and goes back to sleep. Rarely does he wake me before I get up, which is around 8:15.
We greet the day together in lazy fashion, play, and generally wake up. But that's fine, because after two hours, tops, he's dropping off to sleep again. I move his play pen out of the bedroom, into the living room, and he settles down, in his safe place, with his chew bars and squeaky toys and his little house. He sleeps on that house as often as he sleeps in it.
I made it clear to my beloved, when we got this new family member, that I would be happy to baby sit for him while he was at work. Yes, I stressed those two words, baby sit. Because we had been in agreement for the last several years that once our old puppy left us, there would be no more dogs as we've had somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 in our lives together.
In truth, it was David who was the most adamant about this, and I, over time, matched his intensity of dedication to this dictum.
However, neither of us had taken into consideration how much he had invested, emotionally, in that old dog. Nor were either of us prepared for the loneliness that he would experience once his beloved Rochie dog passed on.
So it really didn't take much arm twisting for my daughter to "talk me into" getting this puppy for her father. On the weekends, the two are inseparable. I refer to them as "Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy". I love the puppy too, of course. But mostly, he's his daddy's dog.
My brother was quite surprised and not at all pleased when he found out about the new addition to the family. Pets have never been particularly important to him. He said, "Well, hell, I thought you were going to be done with animals. Now look what you've done! You're stuck with a puppy!"
I just shrugged. And I told him the truth.
My husband is happy, really happy with his new best friend. In light of that reality, nothing else really matters.
As I get older, I hear words come out of my mouth that I used to hear come out of the mouths of my mother, and later, my father-in-law.
I remember how I felt hearing those words too, words that began with the phrase spoken or intuited, “back in my day”. This would appear to be the same way those around me feel when I utter that same concept—if their eye rolls are any indication. There’s a tendency, I suppose, to dismiss out of hand some of the grumblings of the senior generation. I understand that, actually, because I do fully recognize and accept that the older I get the crankier I can be.
That said, I do believe, unrelated to the emergence of my inner curmudgeon, that it can generally be said that in this day and age, two very important—dare I say sacred?—qualities seem to be lacking in our society: common sense, and the art of compromise.
Lack of common sense, when I was a kid, used to get me a swat on the back of the head—or a more severe punishment, like being grounded. Lack of common sense used to be something most people avoided like the plague. To be accused of having no common sense was a stinging indictment, a horrible insult, or in other words, a really bad thing.
When, and why, did that change? Why did we kill common sense? I don’t have the answer for that, but I sure as hell see the results of it in the news nearly every single day. I’ve read stories of a kindergarten boy being suspended from school because he placed a kiss on the cheek of a female classmate. Georgie Porgie anyone? Actually, school administrators are the most bereft of common sense, if you ask me. The latest asinine school admin decision I’ve read about? A boy brought a clock he made to school to impress his teacher and ends up suspended and being considered for charges—hoaxing a bomb, wasn’t it? If you want to charge anyone with that, charge the dumbass teacher or principal who panicked and called the police.
Yes, I know. Perilous times and blah blah blah. People, do I have to say this? Yes, hold the line. Be vigilant. But if y’all are going to run around like chicken little, divorcing your common sense and, apparently, your intelligence, guess what? You’ve handed those terrorists a huge victory—a bigger one, in fact, than the one you’re trying to prevent.
I can just hear them over there now at terrorist central. “Ha! Over in North America they used to have freedom, they used to be caring and kind to one another, they used to have rational discourse between political factions. But we fixed all that!”
Just think about it for a few minutes. It might sink in.
Thinking of those political factions brings me back to the second virtue that’s been murdered: the art of compromise.
Didn’t our parents tell us that we could not have our own way all the time? Mine did and I am positive yours did too (you know, in the days of common sense).
Here’s how I will explain the art of compromise it in terms relevant to my husband’s and my life for those younger folk who don’t know what it is. We married young, and went from our parents’ homes to our own. We had but a weekend honeymoon. David grew up in a family with both parents, but more, a father who was the Commander In Chief. He’d say “jump” and everyone would ask, “how high, sir?”
I grew up in a house where my dad was the head of the family until he died when I was seven and a half. After that, my mom was in charge, and did everything from earning the money to cooking the meals, to fixing the toaster when it broke. She built window valances, and planed one of the plank floors upstairs to make it level.
David and I got home from our honeymoon and my dear new husband tried his hand at edict-issuing a la his dad. He said, “I’ll tell you right now, I eat roast beef, roast pork, mashed potatoes, cream corn and canned peas.” I looked at him and said, “I’m sorry. We don’t earn enough money to eat roast beef and roast pork every night. So you’ll have to eat what I put in front of you.”
We very quickly compromised: he would try everything once. What he didn’t like, I would not make again. In those days the only thing he didn’t like was liver. Now he’s older, and he even likes that too.
I hope we can all get back to common sense and the art of compromise. In my opinion, they can make the difference between living a good and meaningful life, and merely being alive.