Column: Transitioning to a ‘dog person’Puppies are funny creatures. I got my first kitten for my 10th birthday. I was 23 when my dad had to take her to the vet for the last time. Michke, my last cat, was my companion for 14 years. Suffice it to say, I understand cats. If I’d been asked, even three months ago, I’d fall under the “Cat Person” category. But now, Rissa’s come to our house, and she’s really messing with that whole label.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Puppies are funny creatures.
I got my first kitten for my 10th birthday. I was 23 when my dad had to take her to the vet for the last time. Michke, my last cat, was my companion for 14 years. Suffice it to say, I understand cats. If I’d been asked, even three months ago, I’d fall under the “Cat Person” category.
But now, Rissa’s come to our house, and she’s really messing with that whole label.
We’ll have had her for a month this weekend, and it’s been one interesting — and trying — month. For the most part, she’s been an angel, but then again, she sleeps a lot. It’s those waking hours that can be the problem.
I’m used to mellow cats. Mellow cats that were once kittens, but even as kittens, they were a lot more mellow than my puppy. They played with yarn but they didn’t try to tear apart stocking caps and afghans. They slept in my bed but they didn’t walk around in the middle of the night, lick my face and hit me in the head with their tails before settling down to sleep between my legs.
But this puppy of ours, she’s something else. She’s definitely not mellow. She’s a smart puppy, for sure. I know she understands commands, but for some reason, she chooses not to listen to them. We’d done a pretty thorough job of getting everything up off the floor — vacuuming and sweeping and so on — before she came. What I wasn’t anticipating was her ability to get to things on tables. From the day she arrived at our house, Rissa’s gone after pens. Pens, and paper. Go figure. This, of course, is a problem for someone like me, who writes for a living.
We’ve done pretty well with training her not to pull on her leash while we’re out for walks. At least, in the neighborhoods of St. Paul, that works. We’ve gone for a couple of walks on the state capitol grounds, and that’s kind of 50/50 — half the time she walks nicely and sits when we reach the corners. The other half, she wants to run and sniff and pull, pull, pull.
And when we came to Farmington for her vet appointment last Friday, and went out onto the trails at the Kuchera Entrance to Rambling River Park? Oh, she was like Drunk Dog Walking. Weaving everywhere, stopping to smell every tree along the trail (and you can about imagine how tedious that became). I think we’ll have to work on trails — it was like she was on sensory overload and was far too busy checking out things to listen to me, much less walk like a good puppy.
I will say, she behaves pretty well when she’s in public. We got penned in at a PetSmart in White Bear Lake by about a dozen different people who wanted to stop and pet her, comment on how cute she was, and things like that. She sat her little puppy butt right down, perked up her ears and gladly accepted the treats she was offered.
I suppose it’s all the chewing that’s the problem right now. I don’t know where or how she managed to pull my debit card out of my purse, but she chewed that up pretty well the day after Black Friday (I’m pretty sure she was jealous of all the attention the card got on Black Friday). I came into the living room the following morning to find pieces of a pen (but no ink, oddly) strewn around the place. We have a floor plant sitting on the coffee table because she went after the leaves one day, and forget that pair of black clogs that were my go-to comfy shoes – they didn’t make it past Thursday night. And where she found that deck of cards she destroyed Sunday night, I have no idea.
But then again, she’s so doggone cute. She’ll come up and prop her little head on my lap, look at me with those little brown eyes, and I’m a goner. She was afraid of the stairs for weeks, but mastered them over the past weekend, and now she’ll run up and down just for the sake of running up and down whenever she gets the chance. She doesn’t get the whole “fetch” concept very well, but will bring the ball or Frisbee at least half-way back before she drops it, sits down and thumps her happy tail on the ground in this “Look at me! Look what I did!” manner.
I came to understand some of my frustrations Sunday — I’m simply used to cats, and raising a puppy is a whole new experience. I can’t expect a puppy to do the things a cat would do. That’s my problem, not Rissa’s. She’s just being a happy, curious puppy.
I had a dream Sunday night, where The Beau and I were the foster parents and had to give Rissa up to another family for adoption. In my dream, I couldn’t do it. I conveniently forgot the papers and I drove right past the meeting place. I just didn’t want to give her up. The mere thought of losing her made me cry and I couldn’t do it. I guess I’m a dog person after all.