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Checking puppy poop: A lesson in parenting
Submitted by Kevin Wuzzardo on Mon, 10/15/2007 - 6:50am.
In late June I moved in with my fiancee Tiffany. A couple weeks later, we made another life decision by adopting a puppy named Libby. She's been an absolute joy to have. She's a lot of fun, and we've learned a lot from her. I like to think of it as a preview of sorts for being a parent one day. Having never had a dog before, I've learned a lot about responsibility and patience. And Friday night, Libby gave us quite a lesson.
Recently, we've been giving Libby more freedom. When I take a nap in the afternoon to recover from my early start to the day, she's behaved well enough that I no longer have to either put her outside or back in her kennel. Yes, sometimes she chews on the throw pillows and blanket on the couch, but nothing major lately. I told Tiffany about this recent run of good decorum, so when she left for work Friday morning, she decided to leave Libby out in the house. When I got home around 12:30 p.m., all appeared well. So when Tiffany and I went out to dinner and the theater Friday night, we decided to again let our baby have some freedom.
On the way downtown after dinner, Tiffany asked, "What do you think Libby's doing right now?"
I replied, "Probably eating a throw pillow." It seemed well within reason.
As we drove home from Thalian Hall, I half-jokingly asked my wife-to-be, "So, do you think Libby's eaten the couch yet?"
We were prepared to find some mess when we got home. Possibly more of the stuffing from her bed, that Libby so likes to extract and distribute around her kennel. But we were not prepared for what we walked into. There in the middle of the living room floor was my checkbook. I had left it on the coffee table, but it was now strewn about in hundreds of shreds, plastic cover and all. Perhaps Libby wanted some money from my account, because my favorite pen was also on the floor destroyed. The rubber grib was shredded, the clip was halfway across the room and the metal shaft had been bitten so many times, it looked like a cheese grater. Fortunately she had left alone the two laptop computers sitting on the coffee table and the bag full of Tiffany's childhood photos she's sorting for our wedding slideshow. "I'm glad I picked the box of wedding invitations up off the floor," Tiffany said.
I was stunned. Tiffany stood there and laughed. That is until she saw the fourth detroyed item: Her $100 pair of sunglasses. But it was this piece of the rubble that caused the most concern. It wasn't the cost. It was the fact that one entire lense was missing. We searched everywhere Libby could have gone with it. We still haven't found it. We called the emergency veterinarian, and she said to give Libby a big meal and wet it down, feed her some bread as well and take her for a walk until she pooped and search the droppings for pieces of the sunglasses. And so we did. "She's having the greatest day ever," Tiffany said. "Out of her kennel all day, an extra meal and a walk."
At 11:30 p.m., when we both hoped to be fast asleep, we were walking through our neighborhood with a precious, pampered puppy who had no idea why Mommy and Daddy kept yelling at her to keep walking. After about 10 minutes, she finally found a spot she liked and made a deposit. Using a stick and a flashlight in the dark, I leaned over the steaming pile and searched for evidence of the sunglasses, but I couldn't find any pieces of plastic. So home we went, figuring if she did eat it, she must have chewed it up finely enough for it to pass without problem. More than two days later, she hasn't shown any signs of distress, so we're hoping for the best.
As we began our movement-inducing walk, Tiffany asked if we were bad parents. "No," I told her. "Parents have to trust their kids and give them chances to succeed or fail and set boundaries."
She thought about it and said, "So when they do stuff like this, that's when you take it away?" Right. Libby is spending a little more time back in her kennel. Over time trust will develop again, and we'll give her a little more freedom. We hope she'll learn from what happened. We certainly have. If and when we do leave her out, we won't make the mistake of leaving things in reach. It's one of many valuable lessons we'll hopefully keep in mind when we (hopefully) have kids. So I guess even though she cost us some sleep and caused us some anxiety, we owe our puppy a bit of gratitude. Thank you, sweetie, for helping make us better parents.
By: Kevin Wuzzardo