Raising a Puppy — In a World Full of Delicious Dangers


Have you raised a puppy — a curious, rowdy, wildly energetic puppy? A puppy who was always two – three – four steps ahead of you? Then you know raising a puppy isn’t all sweet cuddles and licks. It’s exhausting! I know because I’m hopelessly in love with a soft-coated Wheaten terrier puppy named Mr. Magoo. But love isn’t enough. Mr. Magoo’s world is full of delicious dangers that he races to grab before I can stop him. Then he looks at me with those eyes that say I betrayed him — again. Doesn’t he know it’s my job to keep him safe?

You Are What You Eat?

If that’s true, Mr. Magoo is a block of wood, a new sneaker, five cicadas, four rolls of toilet paper, a bar of soap, asphalt roofing tiles, three sponges, a plastic flower pot, seven dog toys, and the mail — including a check from the IRS. After the check, my husband Ron was the danger.

The law according to Mr. Magoo — if he can reach it and can get it in his mouth, he must eat it.

Purple Poop – Raising a Puppy

There is no such thing as a Magoo-proof toy. He turned the “indestructible” purple dinosaur into confetti in half an hour. At least the poop was colorful — much nicer than the color left after he ate the green roofing tiles.

He has toys in every room, but Mr. Magoo likes simple things best — household toys I call them. Tissues are the most fun. They shred and fly all about the room. Spatulas, stolen from the dishwasher, turn up with their wooden handles chewed off. (Are spatulas still spatulas if they don’t have handles?) Books are nice treats too — healthier than spatulas since they don’t splinter.

One day I heard the housekeeper calling, “Doggie, stop. Doggie, don’t!” And Mr. Magoo came trotting proudly into the kitchen — with a bottle of Clorox bleach in his mouth.

Mr Magoo - Raising a puppy

I used to worry over every upset stomach. What if it was something serious? What if he’d eaten something toxic? Lots of things are toxic to dogs. I knew because I’d Googled. Before the puppy was six months old, he’d been to the vet so often they were on a first-name basis.

Time has passed and Mr. Magoo is still alive, so I’m a little less uptight. He seems to thrive on strange and dangerous things.

Physics: Speed X Weight = Something’s Broken

I’m not a physicist but as best I can calculate, a thirty-pound puppy running into an object at 20 mph exerts six hundred pounds of force. (Feel free to correct me.)

When that force is exerted on people, ouch! And Mr. Magoo loves people — all people. He has no doubt they love him back — they need to touch him. So, his thirty-pound body runs 20 mph toward whoever comes into his orbit — friend, delivery person, gardener, painter, Jehovah’s Witness, or kid selling chocolate bars to pay for computer camp. He must reach them. He must jump on them. He must lick them. He knows they want it!

Raising a puppy

Barriers Are Not Part of His Reality

Barriers — doors, windows, gates — are not part of his reality. Whatever stands between him and his objective should not be, so it’s not. Therefore he throws the full force of his body into it.

I’ve come to dread the doorbell. To Mr. Magoo, it’s a new friend calling to him. To us, it’s the start of a battle that tests our strength, speed, and wit.

Before the bell, a sweet Mr. Magoo cuddles in Ron’s arms and looks into my eyes in a way that raises my serotonin levels.

Puppy Love

Mr. Magoo Transforms Into Mr. Hyde

Then, the bell! And we spring into action. Mr. Magoo jumps from Ron’s lap straight into the air. Ron grabs for his collar and strains to keep hold of the frenzied puppy. I run to the door, racing to get through and close it before he can break free and get there. It’s pretty much even odds on who wins.

When I win, he doesn’t accept defeat. He throws all thirty of his pounds into the closed door. The last time, the door stuck and we had to pay a carpenter to open it.

“Magoo, I’ve just about had it with you!” I screamed. He gave me that look again.

Mir Magoo Love You

And I thought, oh well, the carpenter wasn’t all that expensive. The door probably needed work anyway.

Windows — You Can See Through Them So They Don’t Exist

We have a whole different problem when someone comes to the kitchen door — windows. Bay windows and door windows stand between Mr. Magoo and whoever is there to adore him. He can see them, so he can reach them. He sails through the kitchen and throws himself against the windows, again and again.

Excited Puppy

I run, screaming every command in my limited vocabulary, “Leave it! Sit. Come! Down! Want a treat? No! Stop! Please.” But he doesn’t stop until I finally get hold and drag him away. Luckily, we have really, really strong windows.

The smart little dog knows the command words. He learned them in one day — so he knows exactly which ones he’s not obeying.

Raising a Puppy – Why Didn’t We Think of That?

Yesterday, I was slogging through 80% humidity and 90° heat to take Mr. Magoo for his morning walk. I was not up to the battle I knew was coming when I saw a stranger walking toward us. The closer she got, the more the dog jerked and lunged to get to her, to jump on her. I yelled the mutually understood commands. He didn’t obey. All I could do was clench the leash and hang on.

She stopped when she reached us. Why? I wondered.

“Beautiful dog. You should train him,” offered the stranger helpfully.

“Yeah. We could do that. But we enjoy the exercise. He’s done wonders for my figure.”

Raising a puppy

Actually, we did hire a professional trainer. He took Mr. Magoo and trained him for two weeks. When he came home, it was amazing. He was perfectly behaved — as long as the trainer was here. As soon as the trainer walked out, Mr. Magoo knew the boss was gone. Only the suckers were still here. We are the ones who learned a lesson — raising a puppy is not for the faint of heart!

By Ruthi Birch
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