When a new baby enters a home, everything changes – even if it is a fur baby.
Gates go up, locks on cupboards and the fridge get reinstalled, things get removed from floor level and everything from dishcloths, to base boards, to shoes becomes fair game. One easily forgets the puppy stage after having a mature dog but it is a topsy, turvey, wonderful world.
There is nothing quite so delicious yet stinky as puppy breath. Nothing as soft as a new fuzzy puppy coat and nothing like those big brown puppy eyes that will melt your heart even as they chew your favourite pair of high heels. Nothing as lovely as incessant licks and as joyful as a wiggly hide end.
And then there are the traits that are distinctly their own, such as River chasing the Swiffer and chewing the vacuum hose as I try to clean up the tumbleweed of dog hair that has taken over our house. There are the signs of growing confidence and independence such as when River began to bark for his food if we were not serving it quite as promptly as he desired and the cat and mouse antics as we began to teach him to fetch. Patience is not yet his strong suit. He is full of exuberance, glee and curiosity, yet there are also times of serenity and calm.
During our excursions to the beach, River cannot get enough of his new-found freedom. He bounds joyfully chasing sticks or balls and his run is interspersed with an extra little hop as he gleefully patrols the golden shores of Melmerby and Big Island beaches. We are also taken aback to learn that we have a digger on our hands – digging on the front lawn, digging on the back lawn, digging for apples from the apple tree on the edge of our backyard and digging nonstop at the beach with the expertise and devotion of a well-practiced ritual.
River digs not just one paw after each other but like a machine with both paws heaving dirt or sand simultaneously. The deeper the hole, the happier he becomes. He is especially fond of his orchestrated beach excavation as he uncovers seashells and rocks only to cast them aside and dig deeper and then collapses inside the hole he has created and rolls with delight burrowing his nose into the wet sand while kicking with the power of a mule. Nothing makes him quite so proud as prancing along the water’s edge than swinging seaweed and a big seashell.
Another baby trait that is so endearing is his habit of having his very own “sookie” blanket. When he cuddles up on our bed he grabs a piece of the comforter in his mouth. At first, we thought, “O no!” here comes the ripping, tugging and chasing but what happened instead is he just gathers up a good chunk of blanket and holds it in his mouth. He looks up at us with those beautiful, deep, dark pools of puppy eyes as if to say, “Please, please don’t take it away from me.” With his golden head on my legs, he gently closes his eyes and drifts off to the land of nod as the moon casts a light on his now little angelic face.