Sunday, April 22, 2012

Even The Good Lord Rested On Day Seven

I am seven days into puppy ownership, and I've never been more tired in my entire life.

Turns out, those four kids were just practice for puppyhood.  News in the space has been a little sparse this week because my world has generally become a little small.  Actually, it's become approximately 4x6.  As in, the 4x6 patch of grass in my front lawn, which has now become Potty Training Headquarters.  As Headquarters Supervisor I don't have a lot to say about prowling around waiting for tinkles in the grass.  It isn't exactly the kind of headlining news that good blog posts are made of.

But my wheels are still turning here and there so I'll throw out a handful of tidbits to share.

In honor of seven days of puppyhood I'll give you my Sunday Seven list.  A list format is a rather handy when you're so tired your eyeballs are about to bleed and the thought of coming up with transitional sentences to guide readers from one paragraph to another is so overwhelming that it sends you to the Easter candy cabinet to steal a chocolate chicken from a four year old when she isn't looking.

#1.  The puppy doesn't sleep through the night.  She's not really one for power naps during the day either.

#2.  Worms, I am told, are "no big deal".  Oh good.  Than I won't be alarmed by the two trips to the vet or the twice daily medications.  I will, however, pray that a "big deal" doesn't happen anytime soon.

#3.  The puppy is having an identity crisis.  The good news is that we've narrowed down the name choices to a final two contenders...."Penny" or "Hazel".  Maybe, possibly, hopefully someday she will be able to answer to a single name, regardless of who it is who is calling her.

#4.  The cat is having his own crisis.  He isn't letting up.  At all.

#5.  Max and I were supposed to travel to Hot Springs this weekend to visit Opa.  As of Thursday night, the weather reports looked ominous.  Buzz and I got up super early Friday to check radar reports (how handy!  the dog was awake anyway!!) and it looked like we would potentially have to drive the entire way in severe weather.  So, we cancelled our trip.  I went back to bed and slept for another two hours.  I woke to a brilliant, sunshine sky and there wasn't a drop of rain anywhere near me the entire day.  How is that possible??  I truly missed getting to see my Dad, but an unexpected two days here at home turned out to be really nice.  We taught the puppy how to walk on a leash, I machine quilted a lap quilt project that was in the works, and I got to see Hayden's team win their baseball game.  Not a bad deal at all for a Plan B.

#6.  I haven't had a consistent quiet time this week at all......because there is no more quiet in this house.


I usually get up early and do it before anyone else is awake.  But these days, there is no beating the puppy awake.  And once the puppy is up, we're busy.  Really busy.  It's never a good idea to go days without a quiet time...not for me anyway.  I backslide pretty easily if I don't have God's promises and encouragement to fortify my day.  So, I've removed my quiet time and added a puppy.  No wonder my nerves were a little frayed by day seven.

I woke up (super!) early this morning.  To wailing.  There was no settling the dog, so I gave in and found a pair of flip flops that would coordinate nicely with my pajama bottoms.  :-)  PennyHazel and I set out on our loop through the neighborhood at the peak of dawn.  The smell of spring punctuated the air.  The cool, crisp morning felt refreshing and energizing, even on my end of the leash.  I practiced everything Buzz taught me yesterday.  I had her "heel", and wouldn't allow her to get ahead of me.  I stopped frequently, requiring her to "sit" and "stay" by my side.

It went really, really well.  She was so responsive, especially in the absence of a chatty toddler who normally accompanies our jaunts.  Here's what I figured out.  Dogs really want to please.  When she understood what was required of her, she worked really hard to win my praise.  I had a few treats in my pocket, but honestly, she seemed just as happy to be scratched and congratulated on being such a good girl.

The current wave of dog training theory says that it isn't about teaching the dog to do the behavior you want them to do.  It is about learning to think like a dog and communicate in a way that they can understand.

Fine.  How do you get them to understand the joy of sleeping late??

You don't.  There are some things she can't get.  Not yet.  She might, eventually.  Hopefully.  It's always good to have a goal and to not lose sight of it.  But there are things I can communicate to her.  In the quiet stillness of a spring morning she understands staying close by my side.  She gets that her obedience will make me happy and lead to rewards and praise.  She knows to "sit" when I need her to wait, and she looks to the master at the end of the leash to receive instruction about what comes next.  She looks eagerly.  That tail is going and those silly, unruly whiskers around her mouth are twitching.  She's excited to know what I have planned.  She is eager to know what I have to teach her next.  She wants to learn and to do good.  She is ready.

She does best when there are few distractions.  Too many people around can cause her to lose her focus.

I had a quiet time this morning after all.  Apparently, this puppy of mine, while she's busy NOT sleeping, is being used by God to teach me about more than crate training.  So much, much more.

#7.  I'm seven days into puppy ownership and I've never been more tired in my entire life.

The shepherd David understood tired.  He was a shepherd, called upon to tend the needs of unruly sheep.  He knew the importance of providing rest to his flock.  He knew to "lead them beside still waters".  He understood that shallow, stagnant waters could not provide the nourishing, life giving, reviving qualities of deep, cool springs.  He surely knew as a shepherd how and when to provide rest, and for how long.

There is still rest to be had here, but there is no more room for lazy these days.  That kind of accountability stings a little, and can test my selfish, ambitious, self serving motives.  Puppyhood is an adjustment.  I have to choose "down time" wisely, and invest it in things that really count.  A spare moment isn't taken for granted by day seven, and I've taken stock on how to spend them on things that can bolster my spirits, lighten my mood, encourage my soul, and help me to soldier on to day eight.

That's the lesson I've learned this past week.

And I have to admit.........lessons are more fun when they come wrapped in fuzzy packages with wiggles and waggles.

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