It’s been really fun having a puppy in the house. Over the last 6 months, I’ve had the joy of being a parent with a very accelerated schedule. Our puppy Elle has progressed from a very shy small puppy through the younger years of childhood and into a teenager. She went through the attachement phase where five feet in distance was too far from us. This was followed by the exploratory phase where she ventured away from us; but stayed within sight. Her most recent game has been chase–I run away and you chase after me. This makes her the worst teenager we’ve had since she doesn’t listen and loves to run away.
Teenagers are great fun to have around as long as one remembers a few golden rules. First, as a parent one should not be seen and certainly should not be heard. Two, parents don’t know anything; they are just old foggies who came from the dark ages. And three, parents exist to make sure their kids have everything they need or should desire. And the most important rule of all — DON”T DO ANYTHING THAT MIGHT EMBARRAS THE KID. But that last rule is actually the best tool a parent can have.
The kid may think your bad now; but just imagine how bad it could be. I remember picking up my oldest daughter Maggie from Band Practice one night. She had the most anoying habit of not acknowledging us at school. We did not want much; but a simple hello would have been nice. So one evening, Bob–my spouse and Dad to the three kids–went to greet Maggie. He walked right into her group of friends, inserted himself into the convesation, said hello to everyone, and told some jokes. Maggie was mortified, he looks slightly disreputable with a beard and an old plaid shirt. But she got the message, say hello to your parents.
Now with our dog, Elle, we have the opposite problem. She wants to say hello too much. But hello to her means jumping up on people and grabbing their hands or clothes with her mouth. Not to bite, but as a way to create physical contact. I’m told this is a common trait in golden retrievers. Cute in a small puppy; but not acceptable for a big dog. So we’ve had to be more creative in teaching her appropriate greetings. And she’s been working at changing her own behaviors. Now she grabs a stuffed animal or some other toy or a shoe and then comes to great us. The shoe or whatever the item is shoved into our hands. Her whole body wiggles with excitement and she makes these wonderful grunts. You know she’s glad to see us. It is wonderful to be loved so much with such minimal conditions — feed me, pet me, and make me part of your pack.