Life with River is very busy, especially since he entered the “toddler” stage.
He is constantly on the go and always has extra energy to burn, regardless whether we do or not. Just like parents of young children, you are not allowed to be tired or heaven forbid sick – you must be on top of your game 24-7 because your “baby” needs you and this is what you signed up for.
The baseboards in our kitchen and rungs on wooden chairs are among his favourite chew toys. Our once perfectly sculpted, pristine white trimmings throughout our Cape Cod home are now blotted with canine teeth marks and little chunks are missing. The house is home to tumble weeds of fur that require constant vacuuming as his lamb-like puppy coat has transformed into a thicker coat with a majestic lion like mane beneath his chin and a tail that is a regal plume serving as a hovercraft for his moods or curiosity.
He also is inclined to mouth us, a sign of great affection, but one that must be discouraged. As he attempts to hold my hand or arm he doesn’t nibble yet he sometimes clamps down with a vice grip and looks up with big puppy eyes that make you forget you are supposed to be in charge. He wants nothing more than to be beside us or on our laps at all times.
River is showing is ability to learn tricks quickly and has mastered “sit”, “down”, “stay” and the best command of all – “off”. If you place a milk bone or even peanut butter in front of him with clear ‘stay’ and ‘off’ instructions, he waits patiently until the signal is given that the treat in question is indeed for him and that he can have it! He has taken to chewing paper and loves toilet paper. The dog ate my homework line is often a true story in our household and guests might wonder about our placement of the regular household items. It’s all about River.
Our backyard was fenced in this summer so River now enjoys a new-found freedom. He can access the yard from our deck and both the back door and the basement. He loves visits from our neighbours both through and inside the chain link fence and he and our neighbour Jake, a young boy with energy to match River, have established sprints along both sides of the fencing bringing River and his sidekick great joy. Jake says River can outrun him as he gasps for breath.
And then there are River’s signature zooms which have become grander and longer! River has created a race track along the perimeter of the backyard. His need for speed is undeniable as he cranks it up a notch into superhero mode, speeding around the lawn’s edge with the acceleration of Jamaican track star Olympian Bolt. It is a most joyful sight to see River gallop freely with his crimped ears flapping in the wind and a smile on his sweet face. He is also now on the cusp of a leap of faith into our Nova Scotia waters. It feels like it will soon arrive as he revels in the freedoms of beautiful beaches alternating between digging boldly and running along the water’s edge like the majestic horses of Sable Island.
River has graduated from sleeping in his crate and now has a nightly spot on our queen-sized bed starting each night with his head resting upon my feet. Throughout the night he shifts position and often ends up laying straight up and down between my husband Barry and I with his head on the corner of my pillow. He is also a snuggle bug, soaking up pats, strokes and praise with closed eyes and his head tilted up as he takes it all in.
There is not a doubt that it is a dog’s world in our home and that River is in the lap of luxury. My sister-in- law June says River won the lottery but we know it is us who have really won the prize with this beautiful, affectionate, fun loving puppy as part of our family.