Splint and Spring

I was standing at the sink doing dishes, the boys were somewhere in the house, and I assumed the dog was with them. Still in my boots from having just gotten home, I took a step back from the sink to grab a towel and heard a loud yelp. Unbeknownst to me, Major was underfoot – literally – for I had just stepped on his tiny little puppy toe. He limped off and wouldn’t let me touch his paw. This was Thursday night and we already had an appointment scheduled for Friday morning at the vet. Perfect.

X-rays showed that I had indeed fractured his little baby toe with my haphazard step, thus resulting in a splint for four weeks and the cone of shame to prevent him from chewing off the tape. Commence Mommy guilt.

SplintRaising this dog has been a bigger challenge that we anticipated, to be perfectly honest. He is dominant, aggressive when playful, and busy, busy, busy. We knew a puppy would require extra work, constant attention, and a test of wills, but we did not anticipate the excessive biting and barking. Major is so lovable and cuddly when he’s sleepy, but when he’s awake and energetic, it’s another story. All of our tactics to curb the biting have backfired. They all make him more aggressive. We’ll be enrolling him in obedience classes very soon.

In other news, spring in nearly here, thank the sweet Lord. Little signs of new life are sprouting in our yard and this past weekend was a wonderful preview of what’s to come. It was 70 degrees and blissfully clear, which meant the pets and I could bask in the sun for hours. East Tennessee is about to get gorgeous.

Green

Red

The Puppy and the Panther

Yes, I know I should be talking about my boys here, but hang on. We’ll get back to the humans next week.

In two weeks time, Salem has conditioned Major not to cross his path. The cat will perch on whatever piece of furniture he can in order to look down upon the rambunctious eight-week-old puppy. He watches the dog with keen, steady eyes and when Major finally notices that he’s been watched, he’ll stop, stare back for a few seconds and then back up slowly. Essentially, when Major locks eyes with Salem, he backs away to give Sir his space.

When they’re outside, it looks like this:

Observe

There have been a few occasions when the pair have been within a few inches from each other and all was well. Salem is always aware, Major not so much, and I’m eyeballing the whole thing to make sure the 16-pound panther doesn’t skin the eight-pound puppy with one fell swoop.

So far, so good. And then, this morning happened on my lap:

Snoozing

sleeping together

Yay for progress! Happy Weekend!

School? What school?

This right here…

Portrait of Major…is why we’ve hardly done any school work. This ankle-biting, attention-seeking, shoe-chewing little bundle of adorable sucks all the energy out of our house, so when he finally crashes to sleep in his crate, we finally get to do all the things we didn’t have a chance to do beforehand.

You know, like use the bathroom.

The boys and I adhere to a university-style schedule. Though we do language, reading, and math everyday, we do history and science twice, maybe three times per week. That’s on top of co-op and church activities, so we stay fairly busy altogether.

Since getting Major last Monday, we’ve accomplished about half of what we usually do and that’s making me entirely anxious. I need to figure out some time management solutions immediately or we’ll lose our momentum by mid-February, deterring us from finishing our curriculum by the end of April as planned.

Despite the amount of work this little guy has been, he has to be one of the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen. This isn’t a blog post written out of regret. Rather, it’s written from a place of exasperation. He has so many needs, and then the boys have needs, and then there’s Salem and the house and commitments I’ve made. There are interviews to be done and dinner to make, and those towels have been sitting in the dryer for three days.

And suddenly Major’s up from his nap and whining to get out of his crate, while I’m still trying to scarf down my lunch…

You get the gist. Having a puppy really is like having a newborn, except you can’t crate a newborn. Thank goodness you can crate a puppy.

The things you don’t remember

When we got Hank, our wonderful coonhound who passed away two years ago, we were newly married and living in a small apartment. We both worked full time, which meant we learned quickly that puppies should not be left alone with your things for seven hours, or even 20 minutes. Within a week of getting our first puppy together, we started crate training him and that made a world of difference.

We’re crate training Major and fortunately that part is going well. He goes in the crate freely when he’s tired and doesn’t whine all night wanting to get out. As long as he’s gone to the bathroom, been fed and played to exhaustion, then he’s good.

That last detail is essential. Playing to exhaustion. I have no memory of playing with Hank intentionally for an hour for the sole purpose of wearing him out. Maybe we didn’t have to do that, or maybe it wasn’t for a full hour, or maybe I’m just too old to remember details from 2000.

At any rate, we are ALL EXHAUSTED. When Major is awake, we play, play, play. Tug of war, biting the rope toys, playing chase around the couch. When he starts to sniff around, we scoop him up and take him outside for potty training, and then we come back inside for more playing. We go until he can’t go anymore, then he puts himself to bed in the crate and we all collapse on the couch with the hope that we’ve got at least an hour of no playing.

And then he stirs and it starts all over again.

Camera strap

Don’t get me wrong – we’re still smitten. Seriously, look at that face! We are still so glad to have a dog again. But somehow I’ve selectively removed from my memory the work involved in caring for a puppy. Either that or Hank really was the perfect dog.

Me: “Remember how Hank would sleep all day and only get up to eat and pee?”

Chuck: “Yeah, that was nice.”

Me: “Yeah, it was.”