A Puppy in the House (again)

Could someone please remind me again why we wanted a puppy? Now don’t get me wrong – he’s an adorable fluffy white ball of energy, with a golden-patch eye and a question mark tail. In fact, he’s the cutest thing since Brad Pitt. But, here’s the thing: he’s making us nuts.

Our puppy in his crate

Bailey’s first night at home

After Tequila, our Cocker Spaniel, died, we waited six months before adopting our newest addition, a Labrador/Australian Shepherd rescue named Bailey. My husband Jim chose him because he said he had the most “personality.” In other words, Bailey is a handful.

I treat my animals as legitimate family members and can’t imagine being guardian to a dog that isn’t practically attached to my hip. In fact, I never knew there were things like dog beds. Isn’t that why king-sized beds were invented?

When Tequila died, I vowed the next dog we had would be properly trained, since we made many mistakes with her. I now own every book ever written on how to raise a puppy and not want to kill yourself.

Yes, I’m determined to have a canine who recognizes the top dog (hopefully that’s me, since I’m with Bailey the most). I hear that’s the best way to get a dog’s attention and respect. Translation: I get dibs on the comfy chair with the ottoman.

I’m told the trick is to train with consistent, humane, repetitive commands and positive reinforcement. But here’s the deal; Bailey doesn’t get it. Is it possible I overestimated his brilliance? I don’t think so. But I’m finding it difficult to discipline a dog with the eyes of a seal pup and he’s taking every advantage.

This is a dog that learned to sit at seven-weeks-old and mastered the dog door on his second try. His intelligence is almost scary. That may be the problem. He doesn’t want to give up his top dog position so I have been relegated to bottom dog — not exactly what I envisioned.

So here we are with an eight-week-old puppy that chases my legs until he can embed his razor-sharp teeth in them. He’s constantly biting my hands so it looks like I’ve encountered a rosebush-gone-mad. And he barks at me every time I look at him.

My mom meets Bailey

I’ve discovered these past two weeks that disciplining is not my forte. I can’t quite get my voice to the testosterone-enriched level that seems to attract Bailey’s attention. If I raise my voice to him, he cocks his head from side to side, determines it’s an invitation to play and lunges for my throat. I’m becoming fond of turtlenecks.

My friends have a slightly different effect on Bailey. Sue walks into the room and Bailey will trot over to her, lick her shoe, and then settle into her lap for a nap. The dog has never so much as nodded-off in my vicinity. With me, he’s like that Energizer bunny with the batteries stuck in the “on” position.

The last two weeks I’ve said, “Don’t bite!” approximately 437 times. I’m up twice a night for potty breaks (Bailey’s, that is) and have spent many hours trying to figure out how to outwit an energetic eight-week-old pup.

When I do, you’ll be the first to know.

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