August 12, 2018

puppy love

"I was breaking the laws that the sign-makers made
And all I could eat was the poisonous apple
And that's not a story I was meant to survive ... "

                - Dar Williams, "You're Aging Well"

"Oh, hai!"
Molly is about to turn three years old in dog years.  I'm not going by a chart to determine that age.  I'm going by her behavior and her developmental stage.  If you've reared a child and passed through this stretch of road, you remember.  It's a road to Somewhere Else.  You wouldn't have dreamed of renting a room here.  You passed on through as fast as the speed limit would allow.  And you went nine miles per hour over it.

The details have mercifully hazed over, but you recall the sense of being tethered, hyper-aware, discovering over and over again small mischiefs of negligible consequence - and sometimes damned near misses of grave consequence - that in both cases required you to be the corrector and guide, the vigilant and appointed enactor of the real meaning of "discipline".  There was no rest, no trust in your charge.  You were always there.

Except for when she's sleeping.  Molly will sleep through the night with us now, but daytime naps last four minutes.  She keeps one eye ready to open when she detects any human movement, even just crossing our legs on the couch.  Then she switches back into awake mode, which has two sub-modes, one of which is come up and asking for affection and the attendant opportunity to lick our faces and bite our noses and chins.

The other mode is seek-and-destroy curiosity.  She finds things like eight-year-old food wrappers that fell behind something in accessible to us and that we gave to Jesus and moved on, and small bottles of lotion from low-lying baskets that we failed to relocate.  Earlier this week, she got a mouthful of body wash.  I never got to find out how she felt about that.  Her breath didn't smell like Sparkling Peach Cider Foaming Shower Gel.

It did put me in mind of the time Chester nicked and ate an entire fucking package of lemon Plink balls and had lemony-fresh breath for two straight days.

We've implemented Phase Two of puppy-proofing.

This is on top of continuing to need to monitor her every move when she disappears from sight, because while we have an imaginary sign posted in our hallway that reads "[THREE] Days Without Piddle Accident", it could still happen.  She's getting much better.  We might be in the home stretch here.  Typing that just doomed us to a piddle accident today.  I realize this.

The pineapple dinners are working.  The bottom half of the sign reads "[SIX] Days Ingested Turd-Free".

But sometimes, there is Molly, lying contentedly on a rug or voluntarily in her pen, where she thinks she is invisible and safe from discovery and interruption, chewing on a shoe or a roll of toilet paper or one of our good colored pencils that rolled under something two years ago and couldn't be retrieved, and one of us issues the corrective rebuke, waits a few seconds, and then reassures her that she is, in fact, a Good Girl and everything is all right.

Because it was all about the colored pencil.  It was never about Molly.  Molly doesn't live and breathe with the awareness that anything she does might be okay but could also bring down wrath that wouldn't be so easily retracted, could bring down condemnation.  Molly knows that if what she is doing is in violation of how we do things around here, she will experience a few seconds of unpleasantness, a learning moment, and then a "good girl" and an ear scratch and a chin to kiss.

She is acting appropriately for her age.  Her intrinsic worth is never invaded and vandalized.  She can do Wrong and never leave the circle of love-light.

Puppies and children deserve this.

1 comment:

  1. You're a great Mom and your children are blessed to have such a loving home! I'm glad all is working out well with Molly! Things are going well with Buddy at my end, too! He is a handful, but he is such a good dog! Two of our three cats are becoming more brave and have dared to be in the same room with Buddy. Buddy is learning quite well that as long as he doesn't bother the cats, all is well! So we are making progress! Yay.