Daddy Talk: Puppy Power
If you have clicked on my wife’s social media profiles any time in the last couple months, you probably already know that we recently expanded our family. We are the proud owners of a little beagle mix puppy. And as with any transition, the added responsibility of caring for this pet has been taxing on our lives. But, goodness, he’s so cute!
One of the more amusing recent conversations we’ve had with our kids involved naming the puppy. Suggestions from our kids came in abundance, ranging from the practical, human kind—Hunter—to the surprising kind I never would have thought of—Butter—and everything in between. After days of consideration, the kids settled on the name Jett, having voted on it democratically. My wife was openly opposed to this decision but was simply outvoted; the name was not my first choice either, but I’m content with it, especially given the runner-up option, Kong.
As you may have expected, our kids were, in fact, the root cause of this puppy acquisition. Our seven-year old, Tanner, has for the last year been asking for a pet that he could take care of. And though we already had a cat and a dog in our family, my wife and I realized that since both of them are older than our kids are, these animals were not at the season in life when they desired to play and be taken care of by grade-schoolers. So we started entertaining the possibility of a younger animal. How nice it would be to teach our kids some responsibility through taking care of a new pet! Perhaps our older dog, Stella, could have a more satisfying social life! This puppy could grow up alongside our kids and become part of their cherished childhood memories!
Of course, after we acquired Jett, we discovered that his main contribution would be peeing all over our floor. Since it’s not ethical to lock a puppy in his crate for a year until he’s housetrained, we took the alternate route of laying plastic drop cloths all over our house. This method has protected our floors somewhat; however, any guests we’ve entertained over the last three months have assumed we’re in the middle of a massive painting project. And regarding the potential pitfall of having our house smell like dog urine for the next year, we’re fortunate that my wife’s sense of smell ranks almost as high as that of the beagle himself, and she is rather determined to confront odor issues head-on. Our kitchen counter now resembles one from an infomercial for modern cleaning products. We have all sorts of chemicals and deodorizers—natural and essential oils—ecofriendly sprays and wipes. The puppy is probably convinced that his new home is a hospital. It’s so clean that he routinely eats straight off the floor to prove it.
In addition to Jett’s claim to fame in using the bathroom all over our living room, he has also become locally renowned for finding dirty laundry wherever it may be hiding and pulling it out for the world to see. After some friends left our home a few nights ago at the end of a get-together, I casually waved goodbye, closed the front door, and turned to see my dirty underwear proudly on display on the club chair next to our door. Jett clearly placed it there to welcome the visitors, as it would be the first item in view upon entering the living room. But since I never entered the front door myself during the party, I never noticed it hanging there.
I don’t have space here to talk much about how Jett likes to chew on things, but he does seem to be vying for an Olympic medal in that category as well. Luckily, his puppy-ish attention span allows us to trick him into refraining from chewing things that he shouldn’t chew on. Even my four-year old, Lydia, has picked up on this weakness and was quick on the draw this afternoon when she saw Jett run past with her soccer shin guard in his mouth. She pulled a squeak toy from underneath the couch cushion and traded with him for the shin guard. And I suppose that was the sort of maturity I was hoping to see in my kids when we got a puppy: the ability to exercise intellectual authority over lesser beings.
Tim Krason trains puppies and four-year olds in Clinton, MS.