Column: The pitter-patter of little paws
Don't let that cute face fool ya. He's not as innocent as he looks.
He's a four-month-old Basador (half Basset Hound, half Labrador), and for the last week, he's been the unholy terror of my life.
He's like a toddler, but with bigger teeth and no diapers.
He chews on socks. He chews on shoes. He chews on table edges. He chews on tissues from the bathroom garbage and leaves little pieces of them all over the house.
He nips my hands when I try to pet him and my chin when I go in for a quick kiss on the head.
He needs to go outside pretty much all the time, even when it's 30 below - and of course that means Dan and I have to go outside, too.
He eats our plants and wants to play tug-of-war with our scarves. We can't take our eyes off of him for a moment.
We play hopscotch through our living room whether we like it or not, leaping and skipping over scattered stuffed toys, ropes and chew bones.
And did I mention he keeps us up at night?
Sometimes Dan and I, feeling disheveled and exhausted, look at each other helplessly and ask, "Why did we do this, again?"
We adopted Wally from The Marshmallow Foundation in Detroit Lakes just over a week ago.
After losing our last dog, a beagle, to a rare illness last fall, our house had become quiet. Not the nice, relaxing, I-can-do-whatever-I-want-whenever-I-want kind of quiet. That free, independent feeling only lasted a couple weeks.
After that, it became the I-want-the-pitter-patter-of-little-paws-back kind of quiet. The I-miss-the-chaos-in-my-life kind of quiet.
Well, Wally certainly brings back that chaos.
But then, there are those great moments, too. Those little precious seconds when he's just a cuddly puppy. A soft little sweetheart with lots of love to give.
Like this morning, as he was waking up, all drowsy and lazy and so darn sweet. Who could resist giving that big-boned, floppy-eared, roly-poly sleepyhead a good belly rub?
And then watching him play and pounce in the fresh snow for the first time? So much fun to see. Those moments of happy discovery are priceless.
As are those triumphant markers of training gone well. Like when he opted to tear apart that tenth new stuffed toy I just bought him, instead of those slippers he had been eyeing so longingly. Or that first time he sat by the door to let us know he needed to go out.
I think I actually raised my arms up into a 'V' for victory at that, yelling, "YES!! He can be taught!"
And very quickly, actually. In fact, he's doing so well, in so many ways, that Dan and I keep having to remind ourselves we've only had him for a week.
Before that, he was in a kennel at the shelter for a couple of months. Picked up with one of his brothers as a stray, no one has any idea of his whereabouts before then. It's likely he was never in a house before ours. Or around people very often.
So it's easy to forgive him when he slobbers up my socks, or tries to get up on the coffee table. He simply doesn't know the rules yet. It's our job to teach him.
And, all kidding and sleep-deprived crankiness aside, we're honored to do it.
I mean, c'mon. Just look at that cute face.