For years I joked around that Jeb and Achilles were our practice kids. I had no idea how right I was. This is an obligatory opening paragraph with a nut at the beginning to compensate for the quick preview blog reader apps give. I’ve noticed most of these list posts need to have an opening paragraph, but I never read them, because I’m only interested in the list (which is below). I’m curious if this is universal or not. So, if you read this paragraph, answer me this question in the comments: If cows could talk, would you still eat them? Now read below for the actual point of this blog post.
Sleeping through the night – fuhgedduhboutit. When you have a puppies, and you don’t want them to live in a cage, this involves waking up as many as four times a night for them to empty their little puppy bladders. Achilles was the worst. And then as he got older, he didn’t need to go outside as often, but he was already in the habit of waking up. It took me a few weeks to figure out that he was just going outside to look at the stars, because he was bored. We corrected that habit.
I’m confident the way this relates to infants is pretty self-explanatory, so we’ll just leave it there.
Silence is a terrifying blessing. When you have a puppy, particularly an attention-craving husky puppy who has figured out that the most surefire way to get the spotlight is to do something he shouldn’t (another good parenting lesson), silence is very often an ominous sign. Once I was in the living room, working, and little Jeb comes rushing over to me and looks frantically between me and the hallway. Finally I said, “Is it Achilles?” And he took off like a shot to the back bathroom…where Achilles was in the process of destroying the bathroom trash.
There were also times the puppies were sick. When Achilles had to have the rope removed, I won’t lie, I didn’t sleep much that night. If he was crying, I couldn’t sleep. If he wasn’t crying…I couldn’t sleep.
The first time Baby G slept through the night, I absolutely was sticking my finger under her nose to make sure I felt something. I think once I even fell asleep with my hand on her back, just to make sure I could still feel it rise and fall. I know this will only be compounded as she gets more mobile and able to let her curiosity run wild.
I have a graduate degree in non-verbal communication. Listen, huskies talk. A lot. All the time. But it’s not English. Babies talk a lot. All the time. (Or at least mine does, literally from Day 1. They put the paci in her mouth and she babble-babble-babbled.) Thanks to the puppies, I have developed a reasonable ability of interpreting tonal language and body signals. Achilles can throw down some pretty impressive rhetorical skills when he’s trying to get his way in something.
Even Jeb, who isn’t much of a “talker” and tries to communicate primarily via telepathy, still can give me cues just by the various stares he has. He’s got one stare for We’re out of water, and another stare for I want to look out the window, and another stare for I want to sit in your spot. And another for The baby has been on your lap ALL DAY, isn’t it my turn yet? Poor puppy.
Same species, same age, totally different dogs. This is probably the most important one. There are very few one-size-fits-both methods when it comes to these guys. They have different preferences of positive reinforcement: Achilles only considers treats acceptable forms of barter, whereas Jeb is usually pretty happy with physical affection (and also treats). Achilles likes having his belly rubbed, Jeb prefers his neck and head. They respond to discipline completely differently. Achilles has always protested his rights whenever he got in trouble, so the time-out corner had to be instituted. With Jeb, if my voice is too harsh, it crushes his spirit. (Seriously, it’s the saddest thing you’ve ever seen).
My parents always told me that no two kids are alike, so you can’t treat them as though they are. These puppies have really helped me understand that. And while Baby G is the only one we have, I think it helped free me to let her override a lot of preconceived notions or habits I had picked up from other people’s kids…including my parents’.
There are other things, of course. The gradual relinquishing of personal space, the importance of finding my calm in the middle of stressful trips out of the house, the horror stories involving bodily functions (the dogs still win). Having all three together means I never have a dull moment. And they love each other so much I can hardly stand it..