Puppyhood is fleeting and fraught with danger. Most days Luka is full of puppy bravado and bravely challenges vacuum hoses, ladders, and little old ladies with umbrellas. He sneaks up on napping bunnies like a stealthy cat and pounces at plastic grocery store bags. He talks back when disciplined, yet sits politely while waiting for his dinner.
Each day, with frequent walks to new places and the added help of a weekly puppy class, he’s learning some manners and being exposed to new things. I’m amazed with how forward and unafraid this pup is with strangers and unfamiliar things. For all of his life my Buddy would approach the downtown area of our little neighborhood with his tail between his legs – too many people and too much activity always made him apprehensive – yet this little guy trots forward with a happy tail, glad to meet anyone who will pause long enough to coo over him.
He’s been stepped on more than once by clumsy strangers and has learned not to put himself underfoot despite his eagerness. Just yesterday he learned how to go down stairs for the first time and was quite pleased with himself for no longer needing to be carried outside for potty breaks like a little baby. He’s tall enough now to surf the top of the coffee table; making yet another piece of furniture that I have to keep free of clutter. He spends workdays napping, waiting for us to come home to walk him and peeling paint from the kitchen baseboards.
Everything must be explored with his mouth and teeth. Some flower or rock or patch of dirt has managed to upset his stomach – we’ve been dealing with that the last few days. Healthy portions of boiled rice and some canned pumpkin have gotten his poops back to normal, but not without accident and a sleepless night or two.
We’ve been playing fetch in the yard and he’s loving that. He’s still very clumsy and most often lands on his head before getting the ball in his mouth. Today we had a scare when he carried the ball under the Rose of Sharon hedge and disturbed a bunch of ground-nesting wasps. I thought his panic was because the ball rolled out of his reach or that his lead was tangled among the branches, but coming closer I saw that he was covered in wasps. Poor thing! I called Rich from across the yard and we brushed them all off, but Luka was stung and yelping and frightened. We called the vet just to be sure he’d be okay and he is, but it scared me how he became so suddenly quiet and subdued. I wonder if he’ll be put off playing fetch now or if he’ll pester bees in the garden the way Buddy always did.
The books all say that what pups learn now sticks with them for life, so we’re mindful that his expereinces are all as positive as can be. Most indignities have been easily remedied by the generous administration of cookies, but I’m not so sure that this one won’t sting for a good while in his memory.