What Is the Difference Between a Puppy and a Baby? (This Is NOT a Trick Question)

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There hasn’t been a baby in this family for 30 years; our baby turned 30 in November.  Now, suddenly, we’ve got an infant –- and we’re responsible for him.  Completely.  Never mind that he’s a tiny German Shepherd; he still needs to go outside in the middle of the night, is a skittish eater, has a cry you can’t ignore and is completely, totally adorable.

You know how they tell you not to fall in love with puppies –- that they turn into big ol’ dogs and aren’t as lovable?  Well, for us it’s kind of the opposite.  We loved our last dog; he was big and gentle and very, very old.  He slept and walked with us and cuddled and was way past the age where anything made him jump around or gnaw on anything because teeth coming in or generally act like a little kid.  He’d aged over the past twelve years, and we aged with him.

But he’s gone now, and as our grief abated we noticed how very empty our house felt.  Our kids have been out on their own for a long time, and ever since there’s been a German Shepherd here with us.Ix came to us grown up, raised in Germany.   But this time we couldn’t find the right adult, so we chose little Max, eight weeks old, instead.

We agreed to share the tough early weeks as he grew older and easier to deal with, no longer gnawing every pajama leg and carpet fringe or -- worst of all -- any of the myriad electric chords that populate the home of a couple of geeky grown-ups.

But it’s been less than a week, and I’m exhausted.  “Daddy” fell down the steps the night we got home and sprained his back and the dog hasn’t learned yet to go down steps, so every time he needs to go out –- every couple of hours during the day and at least once every night -- I have to carry him down the back stairs, stand outside while he stalls then finally pees, then pick him up and bring him back in.  And go back to sleep, if I can.   Until the little whiny sounds start again.  Just like taking care of a baby –- but with more hair.

Other people compare their pets to other things.   Big Fish Top Dogs compared raising her pet cockatiel to starting a business.   Iampam, like me, is thinking about dogs and babies with the same part of her brain.  And Lynn, in an effort to convince her husband to do just what my husband and I did and get a puppy, posted these photos all over the house. 

It didn’t work –- she says because he has a will of iron.  But tired as I am, if that husband asked me, even though I’m aware of how long this craziness is going to continue, I’d tell him just this once to be the one who bends.   That’s what a puppy teaches you, after all, that –- just like a baby –- the real joys in life come when we are open to them,  when we do bend a little bit.  And they bring with them love and laughter and sense of wholeness that only being responsible for a life other than your own can provide.


Cynthia Samuels, Managin Editor, Causes; Partner, Cobblestone Associates, LLP Blog and Media Strategies and Content Development Online and on Television    Don’t Gel Too Soon

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