If you ever see me walking down the streets of Rye, please remind me that I once wrote that I love puppies more than babies.
By Gretchen Althoff Snyder
If you ever see me walking down the streets of Rye, please remind me that I once wrote that I love puppies more than babies. Babies may put small objects in their mouths, but they don’t actually shred everything they touch into tiny little pieces. When you give babies love and affection, they often coo and give a warm smile. Rarely do they start biting your hands and feet with their tiny razor-sharp teeth because they think you are a life-size chew toy (well, maybe a bite here or there during breast feeding – but let’s not go there). And babies generally don’t eat dirty socks, smelly shoes, chairs, paper towels, dirty banana peels, cigarette butts, or other objects clearly not meant to be ingested.
I suppose one of the beautiful things about the passage of time is that you block out the hard times and remember the good ones. After our beloved chocolate Labrador Lucy died last January, we knew we had no choice but to get another dog. We are a dog family, plain and simple. However, my husband and I promised each other we would make smarter decisions this time around. Most importantly, after years of trying to tame the equivalent of a wild bucking bronco, we swore we would choose the quietest, shyest puppy in the litter. No more nutty chocolate labs for this family. We also swore we would pick the runt of the litter. Lucy was 85 pounds of pure muscle. My neighbors used to chuckle as I walked by with the boys in a double stroller and Lucy dragging us down the street like Rudolph single-handedly pulling Santa’s sleigh. “Who is walking who” was their daily comment.
So we agreed that a nice, small, shy puppy was a must.
Well they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Apparently, you can’t get a stubborn German-Irish couple to learn from their mistakes either. We like to say that Skye picked us, that we had no choice in the matter, which is essentially true. When we first went to see the litter, we were shown two girls and told we had our pick. Both were gorgeous, fluffy little chocolate Labs. One of the girls was very sweet and quiet, happily sitting in our laps while we stroked her beautiful head. The other girl was sweet and adorable but very energetic and had trouble sitting still. She also had huge paws, a dead giveaway that she would grow up to be a very large dog. Upon being let out of her puppy pen, she galloped right over and snuggled in next to us on the couch. After a few pets, she gazed at us with her gorgeous green eyes, then proceeded to take a running leap off the couch and dropped into a full combat roll with a twist.
The boys couldn’t believe their eyes. With such a high degree of difficulty, we gave her a 9.5 and a round of applause. The other female pup sat quietly and watched her sister from the sidelines, wondering what all the fuss was about. Guess which puppy we picked? Skye, aka the Brown Tornado, became the newest member of our family that day.
My husband and I just looked at each other, smiled, and said in unison, “Here we go again.”
While puppies certainly turn a household upside down, there is a fundamental reason we keep going back for more. Puppies, like dogs of all ages, provide the beauty of unconditional love, a welcome addition to ours or any household.
Here’s how it goes in my house on a typical Monday:
Monday morning, 7 a.m., wake up for Skye. The sheer look of elation and gratitude on her face as I open the crate each morning warms my heart. “Oh mom I have NEVER, EVER been so happy to see anyone in my life!! I thought I’d never see you again and I was distraught with grief!! I’m so excited to see you that my whole body is shaking and I might just pee right here on the floor! Never leave me again, I love you SO much I simply can’t stand it!!”
7 a.m. Monday morning wake up for my boys: Well, let’s just say I do not receive the same warm, fuzzy greeting.
3 p.m. Monday afternoon: Skye greets me with the same unbridled enthusiasm as in the morning, despite the fact that I just saw her 10 minutes prior to leaving for school pickup.
3 p.m. Monday afternoon pickup: “Hi boys, I missed you today – how was school? Fine. Did anything interesting happen today? No. Did anything at all happen at school today – good or bad? Mom, please stop asking stupid questions.” Enough said.
I try my best to focus on Skye’s unconditional love and wonderful puppy personality as I navigate the days with a wildly energetic, extremely mischievous, counter-surfing, sock-stealing, chewing machine. Our house has returned to its normal state of pure chaos, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.