Saturday, May 12, 2012

Pippy Gone Wild

Pippy has gone wild.
Correction: Pippy has been wild...for quite some time. Try almost a year.
This month marks Pippy's first birthday. This is quite a milestone in my little pup's life! I am contemplating a doggie cake and a party hat. I think Pippy would look good in a pointy hat with a string around the chin. I can see it now. She'd hate it but I'd enjoy snapping some pictures of the ensemble.
The day I picked Pippy up in Kent, Ohio she was shy and reserved. There were two female Schnoodles to choose from. Both enjoyed playing with each other, like most young siblings do. The breeder told me that one of the puppies was a barker and the other was not. Can you guess which dog I took home? The breeder assured me that Pippy was mellow, calm and relaxed. Perfect!
Her behavior was exactly as the breeder claimed - for the first two days. Pippy was friendly but laid back. She let strangers come to her and was welcoming when they put out a hand to pet or hold her. She was never scared of the new people oohing and awwing over her.
Then a switch got turned on inside her brain.
It has not been turned off since.
Pippy decided to come out of her shell. Her friendliness went from enjoying people to throwing herself at every man, woman and child in sight. She can't seem to help but lunge at new dogs in utter joy, just busting at the seams to show her love. Ever heard of hard to get, Pippy? This concept is lost on her.
Thank God she is fixed, because male dogs would be having a field day!
For most of her life I have brushed off this behavior as the "Puppy Stage." I've heard of parents having to deal with the "Terrible Twos." I assumed the puppy stage is the dog equivalent. During that dreaded year, parents are reassured that it is just a phase and that it will end - magically - on the third birthday. Does a Terrible Twos' Fairy suddenly appear to sprinkle special dust to make the unruly behavior disappear with the blowing out of three candles?
I think the terrible twos might be something of a myth. I'm not so sure it ends at two. I've met some pretty out of control three year olds, too.
So, this has me wondering, if the terrible twos is a myth, is the puppy stage a myth, too? Is the doggie birthday cake really going to change Pippy's wild side?
I think the world has been trying to pull one over on me. I fear that the puppy phase is a bunch of hog wash.
Don't get me wrong, I love Pippy and her wild and crazy behavior. She loves people - what a wonderful quality! I never have to worry that she will snap at some people and lick others. I never have to worry that she'll be shaking in fear in a corner if I take her out in public. People don't scare her and she isn't vicious. Yay!
But she has become my personal greeting committee. She has forced me to replace the word "hello" with "I'm so sorry." I think the ability to apologize is a character strength, but I prefer to use the phrase in different circumstances. For example, when I bump into someone with my shopping cart in the grocery store or forget to return a phone call. When I meet people I prefer the traditional greetings: "hi", "hello", "my name is" and maybe even "how do you do" if I'm really feeling old fashioned.
Those phrases are no longer part of my vocabulary when Pippy is in tow. She scampers right over this respectful discourse. Before I can even form a word Pippy is practically pulling my arm off as she yanks her neck against her lead, using every ounce of her body weight to get even an inch closer to the unsuspecting victim. Any welcoming words are snatched from my mind as I jump immediately to apologizing for the small beast on the end of the leash.
Trust me, an apology is in order for this behavior. Pippy resembles a small bear. She ends up on her hind legs and waves her front arms around in a frenzied motion. This behavior slightly resembles waving but more closely aligns itself with insanity. She looks like a character from Where the Wild Things Are. She means no harm, but she looks a little manic.
She goes berserk and I am powerless to put a stop to it.
I've been hanging on to this first birthday, trusting that I will once again embrace "hello." I've even started thinking up new greetings to add to my repitore such as: "Bonjour" or "Aloha". Hello was getting old anyway.
But then I met Zorro. Zorro is a Shih tzu that Pippy and I met at the farmer's market. Zorro was going nuts - sound familiar? I assumed he, too, must be a puppy so I asked his dog owner his age.
Her response: four years old.
Excuse me?
Zorro's behavior was just like Pippy's. Yanking on the leash. Straining to meet everyone within reasonable sniffing distance. Panting all the while! This was Pippy in a four year old, Shih tzu, male form.
So Zorro has me concerned again. Maybe Pippy isn't in puppy stage. Maybe Pippy is just Pippy.
And maybe I'll never get to say Aloha.

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