One would think that the title of my column would have something to do with the Halloween season, yet I’m not talking about anything related to that day in October.
No. The title of my column refers to the fifth member of our family. The new “kid” on the block. The most ill-mannered and misbehaving being in our house.
Our puppy. He’s 8 months old.
Like many people stuck at home in the months of March and April, we decided it might be time to get our youngest daughter her own dog. After all, the other kids had also been given the responsibility of a dog. This would be dog No. 3 and it seemed like a wonderful idea with everyone at home and on hand to pay attention to the little guy.
Our daughter quickly announced she would be known as the dog’s mother, with Michelle and I being called “Grandma and Grandpa.”
Oh joy. I was not on board but lost the argument. I was not happy about being called “Grandpa” by anyone yet, let alone a four-legged animal.
We decided to get a dog from our local Helping Strays organization and quickly arranged a meeting. There was a litter of chihuahua/heeler mixes, all black and all little boys. All of their names started with the letter P, so we heard about Puck, Pudge, Poppy and Parker.
Parker came home with us. He was tiny, adorable, and slept a lot.
That type of behavior lasted about 48 hours. Once he became acclimated to our home and family, he got comfortable.
Our sons were home from school and began rough housing as soon as the dog showed interest. What followed was basically a game where my sons were giant chew toys. This biting and chewing became quite the pastime, and we were soon trying to figure out ways to put this dog on some type of behavior mod program.
Potty training was not as challenging as we thought it would be, and Parker seemed to understand the situation and the routine quickly. We dealt with a few surprises along the way, but we honestly can’t complain too much about that area of dog rearing.
We had never had a puppy around the house, but we have certainly had four toddlers at various times. This dog was like a toddler amped up on speed.
He would sneakily head down the hallway or down the steps into the basement, only to tear back into the living room seconds later with a mouth full of something: a hairbow or scrunchy, a sock, a pair of underwear.
He finds great satisfaction in doing such things and then proceeds to lead us all around the house, trying to retrieve the item in his mouth. Much like a toddler who seems to have supernatural speed, he bobs and weaves and hides behind the recliner.
It’s quite a game, and I’m sure he thinks “These fools. Watch how I make them run after me.”
It takes very little movement for this dog to think you are ready to play. He heads for your hand, elbow, or any fresh piece of flesh, either choosing to chew and gnaw, or in moments of a blood-thirsty frenzy, clamp down and create a loud howl from the recipient.
Again, I’m sure it’s a grand achievement for the little stinker.
All in all, the acquisition of this pup has been a fun learning experience. He has endeared himself to us, and I know we miss the days when he was a small, cuddly puppy who slept a lot. Although we love and enjoy this dog, I know we all wish for days when he is docile and a calmer, lap dog version of himself.
For now, he is intrusive and demanding. Any time I hug or kiss Michelle, he immediately hops up on the couch or somewhere near to us and tries to push us apart.
A rival, I suppose. A biting, chewing maniac that resembles a small buzzsaw whirlwinding through our day, creating a lot of joy and a small amount of irritation.