Scott Anthony
Yogi, Scott Anthony's new Golden Lab mix, hard at work sniffing a shoe and digging a hole.

New Puppy? Never Again

As dog people, Mrs. Anthony and I are fully familiar with the patterns of dog ownership, having raised them together and separately since we were pups ourselves. Once a doggy family member leaves for doggy heaven, we wait for a while and start pining for a new addition, partly to keep our other dog company but also because we feel comfortable with a ‘his and her’ sort of matched set.

Last time around, I picked ‘Zeke’ out from the rescue kennel and because he was my dog, we bonded and had great fun for the entire 12 years we were together. I say 12 years of togetherness, but Mrs. Anthony is quick to correct me, saying, ‘Remember…for the first three months, you kept Zeke in that box in the garage.”

It’s true, I did keep Zeke in a small enclosure next to the furnace, lined with newspaper and along with his water bowl and chew toy, it seemed to work out fine. I would let him out regularly into the yard to do his business or to play, but at night he slept on a raised platform, cozy in his little doggie corral.

With our new golden lab mix puppy, Yogi, we decided to keep him in the laundry room, partly because he was so tiny and cute (at 14 weeks, a scruff of a dog) along with our other dog, Zuzu to keep him company. The floor in the laundry room is a nice washable vinyl and it worked ok for a few hours.

But then that decision came back to bite me. Somehow, during the first night we had him, little Yogi managed to wedge himself in between the washer and dryer (about three inches) until all that was sticking out was one paw and a tail. He squealed so loudly that I thought the smoke alarm had gone off and he didn’t stop until nearly ten minutes after I had extricated him.

Note to self: Puppies have serious lungs.

The next few weeks were ok, and we did the usual silly games; ‘Throw the stick and watch as Dad fetches it over and over’, ‘What’s that mess on the carpet’ and ‘Find the missing sock’, but as Yogi grew he has become, how shall I say it, a bit ‘obstinate.’

It started when he learned the timing of breakfast and dinner. About an hour before each meal service, Yoag will pick up a chew toy and growl moodily while he paces around the coffee table. Not a cute puppy growl, he sounds like a Tuvan throat singer, ululating and moaning and he does not stop moaning until the food is in his bowl. When it’s time to go out, he has learned to scratch the door, which would be ok except the door is clear fir with six coats of laboriously layered varnish. Scratch marks are part of all dog owner experiences, but these scratches are so deep that it looks like they were made by a Wolverine in heat.

Out in the yard, Yogi does the usual stuff too. Except, in Yogi-style, the holes he digs are so deep and numerous that I no longer have a mole problem, or a lawn. Once he had finished reworking that part of the landscaping, he got to work on the shrubs. He seems to like Azaleas best, systematically paring away at them each day until they nearly beg to be pulled up and thrown into the compost pile. And the compost heap is not spared either, as Yoag likes the smell of the rotting vegetable matter so much that some days he comes back in the house with a banana peel or some eggs shells in his fur.

I don’t mind bathing the dog, it’s actually sort of fun. But Yogi doesn’t care much for it, seeming to sense a trip to the tub by laying down in the pond and then growling at me when I come with the leash. I have the books, I have friends who are puppy-smart. They say things like, “Give Yogi only one chew toy instead of several. That way he won’t chew your slippers.” My slippers were the first thing he devoured, so…those were his favorites, for a while. But you can’t watch the dog 24/7, and he has moved on to include: Couch corner, two leather belts, my flannel coat, several of the books I’m trying to read and the knobs on the linen bureau (how did he reach them up there??)

Turns out, puppies grow, and they get taller. I saw last week, out of the corner of my eye, a ten year old blonde-haired boy in the kitchen eating out of the margarine tub. Before I completed a double take, the boy got down on all fours and ran off with the butter, hiding it behind the couch. Yogi, I have learned, at the tender age of four months is a canine delinquent.

As I type this, Yoag is watching me from the cubby under the stairs. He has something in his mouth, gnawing on it. It looks like a brown sandwich, or...oh, it's my wallet.

Mrs. Anthony writes all of this off, “Oh, he’ll grow up…look how cute he is with your underwear on his head!” It’s true, he did look cute chewing up my clothes, but I will really be glad if he ever does grow up, and next time around when we pick out a rescue pet, I’ll look for one that’s a bit more mature.

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