It had been ten years since we brought home a puppy. In my mind, Sherman was going to be a wealth of new experiences, sights, sounds, photo ops… the reality was much different! I’m sure he was just like the five puppies we had brought home before him, but as he was the first I was attempting to document by photo and on social media, I was met with a jaw-dropping realization. Puppies don’t do much.
That statement should not be misunderstood. When you bring home your new puppy you will experience a level of exhaustion (and sleep-depriving worry) that will not be matched until the next time you bring, say, a little human into your home. This guy was peeing like a machine, sleeping all day, and waking up to play (albeit for 20 minute bursts) at 2 am.
But when it came time for all those cute photo ops… well, they were not presenting themselves right and left as I expected. For one thing, puppies are not exactly masters of their impulses. If Sherman was awake, he was biting everything in reach. Sadly for our senior Golden Retriever, Biscuit… the target of those shark teeth was usually his creaky bones or tender flesh. But another favorite target was my hands, or whatever happened to be in my hands at the moment, such as a camera. I can’t tell you how many cute puppy pictures became a blurry close up of a puppy about to bite a camera lens. It wasn’t until we employed a private trainer and Sherman learned the command “place” that we were able to capture intended photos.
Puppies also are not really supposed to do much. Their little immune systems, though built with tremendous precision by all of those antibodies found in mom’s milk, are still vulnerable when stacked up against brutal illnesses like parvovirus. Parvo is really the only thing that drives me to immunize my young puppies. I’ve heard my veterinarian say enough times, “You don’t want to see a puppy with Parvo… it’s tragic,” to take her completely seriously on that count. Many puppy owners will not allow their littles ones’ paws to touch any public soil until the first three rounds of puppy shots have been completed, often around the 16 week mark, but this is almost at the end of the recognized puppy socialization period! We’ve always chosen to be reasonably cautious instead, allowing our pups to play with known dogs and keeping them away from heavily trafficked dog zones such as parks, allowing short romps in the woods, and introducing them to larger crowds of people whenever we can safely do so.
And then there’s the lack of energy. The average puppy, while imagining himself to be a cheetah, really moves more like a bear cub. Sherman could not even make it to the end of our street and back at eight weeks of age. It was two full months before he could manage the three block walk to the park, and then he was too tired to walk back. A puppy’s short bursts of reckless energy, sometimes called “zoomies” are ridiculously cute to watch, but they must do a number on a poor puppy’s get-up-and-go. Sherman would run headlong in no direction and every direction all at once, a manic grin plastered on his face. More often than not his zoomies ended in a crash of some sort, the headlong end-over-end sort. I’ve seen him run into chain link fences, other dogs, the knees of an innocent bystander, and I’ve seen him bring himself to a halt by throwing his body (in full propulsion) headlong into a somersault.
So whenever Sherman was actually awake, I was thinking… where can I take him? What can we do? And the cycle of realization would hit all over again. He sleeps all the time. When he’s awake he’s biting things. I can’t take him there… too many other dogs. So, yes, I have a lot of cute puppy pictures. It’s just that he’s sleeping in 75% of them.