Living with a toddler

It’s been over seven years since the last time that Deb and I brought a puppy into our world — that would’ve been Dipstick in November of 2015. Before that it was January of 2011, when Scout came home with us. And now, Smudge.

All of those photos were snapped within the first hour that each joined our family.

Our girl Scout, who arrived when we still had a pair of aging Havanese, took to her forever home quickly — The Perfect Puppy who became The Perfect Dog, a title she still holds. When we brought The ‘Stick back from West Virginia he was an incorrigibly mean little bastard, and he stayed that way for over five years. His struggle with Cushing Syndrome mellowed him considerably. Flirting with death due to an intestinal obstruction put a bow on his transformation.

These days he’s so sweet we can hardly stand him.

Smudge’s story has yet to be written, but she’s off to a good start. She’s the typical toddler, variously blessing and cursing us with her antics. Housetraining is a work-in-progress, so at night we put her in a crate. She’s not thrilled about that, of course — she yips and barks and howls her disapproval.

We realize that’s part of raising a puppy. It’s all good.

Now less than 48 hours in, a couple of things stand out to me. In images taken when we met Smudge, she showed signs of stress and uncertainty — a well-loved and well-cared-for pup strained by the long drive, unfamiliar surroundings and strangers. Seeing pictures from yesterday and looking at her sitting beside me this morning, I see her face relaxed, her ears up and her eyes bright.

What’s also very cool is her interaction with Scout. Their play is affectionate, with something I can describe only as mutual respect, as if Smudge acknowledges her elder’s limits and Scout remembers what it was like to be a puppy. Before we went to bed last night the 12-week-old curled up with the 12-year-old, the two spooning and sharing warmth.

Scout never had a litter of her own, but her maternal instincts are intact. I’m not ashamed to say that the sight brought tears to my aging eyes.

Scout, Dipstick, Smudge and us. It’s quite the tribe.

Take care of yourselves, Patriots. Stay calm. Stay sharp. Stay free.

#WiseUp #LibertyOrDeath

#LetsGoBrandon #FJB