Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tails from the bark side

Today's Ledger-Enquirer includes a column about how we impulse-adopted our now 9-week-old puppy, Harvey.

I’m the kind of person whose instincts don’t always cut it when it comes to parenting kids and dogs. I look to books for guidance in the mysterious ways of young beings and then I proceed with caution.

So for months before Will was born, I was reading parenting books and considering the kind of parent I wanted to be. Sometimes it drove Rob crazy, but I learned a lot from the stories of other parents and doctors and experts, and it gave me a foundation for launching into motherhood.

But I didn’t anticipate our new dog Harvey’s arrival in our lives until about five hours before Rob brought him home. I did manage to jaunt out to the library in that short interval and grab a few books on puppies but they were all in the children’s nonfiction section, and I was thinking of the boys as they got them. There did happen to be one title “Super Puppy” that I picked up that was a sort of parent-child guide to raising puppies, which happened to be authored by Daniel Pinkwater, whose zany stories we learned to love on our road trip. We relied on the Pinkwater book quite a bit for our first couple days of ownership – and in fact Pinkwater became Harvey’s middle name. (His full name, Fireboat Harvey Pinkwater Addington, was Will’s way of paying homage to a fireboat named the John J. Harvey, that stars in a story we somehow acquired about a decades-old fireboat that came out of retirement to fight the ground zero fires after 9-11.)

We like to think that Harvey is destined for heroic greatness, but right now he’s mostly a chewing, peeing and poopin’ pup whose many problems we have not yet solved, because he is of course a young puppy. We are trying, though, and looking to models like Cesar Millan (of “Dog Whisperer” fame) and the Monks of New Skete (with their book “The Art of Raising a Puppy”) as we try to figure out how to “be the pack leader.” Right now Harvey’s still trying to lead our pack.

If you've ever trained periodically hyper-active, chewing puppies, I'd love advice from you -- or book suggestions.

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