Editorial September 1998 Issue

Much Ado About Puppies

Nothing can compete with the appeal of a pup.

Recently, I got to spend an hour or so visiting with a girlfriend and her five-month-old baby. My six-year-old son, Eli, who is an only child and who has been lobbying hard for a sibling to play with, accompanied me on my visit.

To my son’s constant disappointment, I’m not planning on having any more children. Nevertheless, I love babies. I couldn’t resist making a big fuss over Ben, as he put on a fantastic baby show, gurgling, laughing, and smiling a big gummy smile.

After about five minutes of sitting quietly by my side as I gushed over the baby’s beauty and charm, my son said, “Mom, I’m changing my mind. I do NOT want you to have another baby.”

“Why not?” I asked him.

“Because I want all your attention for me!” he proclaimed. When I stopped laughing, I tried to tell him he didn’t have anything to be jealous of. With a wink to my friend, I added that when he was a baby, he was far cuter than Ben, and I paid far more attention to him.

“But, Mom,” he said with a worried look. “I can NEVER be that cute again.”

Same scene, only with dogs.

Just a day later, I got to relive this scene with my dog. Rupert is a nine-year-old Border Collie. From the time that he was a puppy, Rupe has been one of those aloof and perfectly mannered dogs that doesn’t really enjoy playing with – or even being all that near – other dogs.

It wasn’t a lack of socialization; he grew up with other dogs present. But like many stock dogs, he projects the image of a guy who is much, much too busy with IMPORTANT things to consider playing with other dogs – particularly rude dogs who try to touch him. Yuck.

When other dogs approach him, he doesn’t growl or start fights, but he’s mastered the art of turning away so persistently that no matter how another dog tries, she can’t touch Rupert, much less get into his field of vision. (We like to joke that he’s muttering to himself, “I don’t see you. I DON’T see you.”)

Poor Rupert recently met his match, though. My mother came to my house for a two-day visit. To my son’s utter delight, and to Rupert’s utter disgust, she brought her new puppies with her – two super-cute 12-week-old puppies that she got from her local animal shelter.

Of course, I gushed over the puppies, too. Oh, their little puppy noses, their pudgy little puppy paws, that distinctive puppy breath! And those matchlessly amusing grunts that puppies make when you pick them up! – sort of like baby pigs, but with so much more tail-wagging appeal.

My son and I rolled around on the lawn with Grandma’s new puppies for a good 10 minutes before I noticed Rupert standing at the top of the porch stairs, distaste and jealousy etched all across his highly concerned brow. “Oh, poor Rupie,” I sympathized, and he wagged his tail weakly. Then the puppies spotted him.

Imagine germ-phobic Howard Hughes in a crowd of lepers. Rupe ducked and dodged, but they were all over him. He held his head as high as he could, trying to escape their puppy kisses; he lifted his feet like he was trying to fight quicksand.

It was no use; within seconds they had overwhelmed my dignified old dog. He snapped once, blindly, but still managing to bowl over both puppies, who yelped dramatically and ran to my mother. Poor Rupert; I didn’t have to say a word to correct him. He slunk off into the house with his tail uncharacteristically between his legs. I could just see the thought bubble over his head. “I can NEVER be that cute again.”


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