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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Those Teeth

 Inside Toby's beautiful puppy face, behind his bright black button eyes, they were always there, lurking about, ready to pounce. He didn't even have to nip. If one of those teeth  touched a blouse or slacks, there would be a hole in them after they were washed. Before long he was gnawing on any hard surface he could approach without being caught immediately.

The dining room chair.

The deck.   (Honest, I was just chewing the toy...) 

Soon I had another problem. Mornings were so exciting for Toby! "After sleeping alone  in the kitchen, the lights come on! Ted opens the crate! And takes me outside! I get puppy food! And here Amy comes  stumbling down the steps, eyes half-open, obviously unaware of how exciting this is! I'll help her wake up. Here, a few nips on the ankle ought to do it! Thanks for the treat but you still look sleepy.  Here's a little nibble on the wrist to perk you up!"

I tried to explain that this was not what I had in mind at 6:15 a.m. Frantic to make him stop, I could hear my voice getting high and squeaky. "Toby, stop that! OW! Stop doing that! All right, that is IT! I'm going to sit up here and drink my coffee and read the paper and IGNORE you! OW!" 

My high, whiny, pleading voice was, unbeknownst to me, sending a message to Toby. I couldn't control him. Ted was the alpha, and maybe the #2 spot was up for grabs. The punctures covering my forearms and ankles told the tale - my puppy was the boss of me. I felt so frustrated, because I really did love Toby and didn't like the way I was starting to dread coming downstairs in the morning.

There were other times, too, when he would seem like he wanted to push me around. A few times Toby even "snarled" at me, although that seems like a strong word for a tiny puppy acting tough.
 Of course most of the time Toby was adorable, but we knew he wouldn't be little forever. I worried about where this puppy defiance would end. With good reason. Years ago in Maine we had adopted a puppy. We lived out in a rural home on a busy highway. I stayed at home with our little girls (1 and 3 yrs. old) while Ted went to the base every day. Clipper was sweet, but bossy too. He was a beautiful purebred Golden Retriever, and he was almost white. When he was about a year old he weighed eighty pounds. I was afraid of him when Ted wasn't there. If I tried to tell Clipper to do something he growled menacingly and bared his teeth. He loved the kids, but wouldn't tolerate orders from me. One day the inevitable happened - somehow he got out into the yard without a leash. Desperately I called for him to come, but he ignored me and took off across the road. He was hit and killed instantly. 

Of course that didn't mean Toby's little rebellions meant he'd suffer a similar fate. Still, I felt uneasy about the way my relationship with Toby was developing.

I started looking on the Internet for an obedience school that was not too far away or too expensive, and that would allow Toby to begin lessons soon. Cesar Millan was out of the question, but maybe someone closer to home could help me act more like a pack leader.  It would be nice to get my injuries healed in time to wear tank tops for summer!

Next post: Our First Training Lessons

1 comment :

Lauren said...

I forgot about Clipper - so sad. :( I'm very glad Toby has better control over his teeth now! haha Now he just licks like crazy (he nearly licked my face off today he was so excited!) :)

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