Molly & Me: An Update on Puppyhood

If you read my blog regularly, you know that we got a yellow labrador puppy at the end of August. It’s been a wild ride. She’s a good puppy and already knows several commands like sit, give, stay and down.  Most of these are accompanied by hand signals. The signals work well for us because we know what they are and how she should react but, I find myself telling visitors/friends/family that “we have a signal” for that. Probably annoying to them. For that I am sorry. But, we are trying to figure out what works best for us. Certainly, some of the direction is out of concern for our visitors as we don’t want them to have their finger chomped off when they point it at Molly telling her to stop.  Just joking (kind of).

Over the last two months, my husband has done the bulk of the training. He’s retired and I was working up until last Friday. He’s had dogs in his life before, and I haven’t. So, I gladly took the back seat on this as I am not confident in what I should do with her. Of course, as I usually do, I bought two books on the subject of puppies. My husband read one and I read the other. They were somewhat helpful but not entirely. (Actually, I am thinking of buying the Puppies for Dummies book!)

Molly, now 15 weeks old, is a very good puppy, don’t get me wrong. She can sit, stay, play fetch, give, and lay down fairly regularly on command. She is house trained and crate trained. But, until earlier this week, we had not left her alone. My husband attended to her during the day, taking her with him when he left for a short trip to the store, or to work in the woodshop.  He also made the early morning trips outside to allow her to go to the bathroom. I helped as I could when I was home from work.

But, all that changed this week. Molly and I have had a chance to get to know each other and bond.  My husband is on a trip to Europe with his newly retired sister. They left Monday and won’t return for several more days.  Friday was also my last day of work.

So this week has been one of adjustment for me. I am the puppy mom. I am getting used to being home again. I have found that I don’t want to be home ALL the time because of the puppy. So, soon after my husband left for his trip I did some reading. I found out that we SHOULD be leaving her alone for short periods. Basically at her age, she could be left alone (in a safe environment, of course) for up to three hours. So, on Tuesday, I went grocery shopping. Wednesday, I walked with a friend. Thursday, I had coffee with another friend and went to my son’s soccer game, all without the dog.

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When I was home, I attended to her better because I was less frustrated because I had also attended to my own needs. We have played, had long tummy rubs, walked all over our yard multiple times, and gotten to know each other. It’s been tiring but good and needed.

Having a pet again in our house is nice. There is a warmth that was missing. Our two sons that are still at home enjoy having her here. You can tell. They stop. They slow down to talk to her or to pet or play with her. She makes me slow down as well. Petting a dog seemly almost therapeutic. Does she still do puppy things that are frustrating? Yes! She still nips or barks (only occasionally) for no reason. She still swipes things out of the laundry room or from the pile of shoes outside our door.

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Am I looking forward to having my husband home to share the puppy duties? You bet. But, I feel more confident in my care of Molly since I’ve had to be her caretaker this week. She’s a good pup.