Puppies: The Ultimate Exercise and Baby Preparation Tool

Obama the Pit Bull PuppyFor those of you who missed our Friday podcast, our big news is that we are currently fostering a mama pit bull with nine puppies.  We have had them for one week but somehow it feels much longer…  Happily, we are enjoying their company and the puppies are now starting to sleep through the night.  (There was a day or two when they first learned to bark and wanted to practice it whenever they were awake.  It’s hard to sleep when your house sounds like a zoo – sometimes monkey-like, sometimes bird-like, and only very occasionally recognizable as tiny dogs.)  All the puppies were named after presidents and the one with the white head is named Obama.  He is a cutie although he can be a bit of a whiner.

Saffron, the mama dog, has started me on an intense exercise routine that involves a 4-block brisk walk in the morning and a 1-mile brisk walk at lunch.  I’m sure she’d like about four more walks a day but it’s plenty for my schedule and stamina level.  She seems pretty content overall.  We are working on some leash training skills but it’s slow going.  Today’s leash lesson was entitled “Don’t Pull Me When We’re Walking On Ice Or We’ll Both Fall Down, You Dumb Dog” but happily we both made it through the day unscathed.  (Will is the one who might have bruises tomorrow from his trip down our front stairs.)

The puppies themselves aren’t a very good exercise tool since they sleep about 20 hours a day but they are giving us a crash course in what it must be like to be a parent.  However, they grow much faster than human babies.  I think every day of puppy growth is equivalent to a week of human baby growth, or maybe two.  The first day we had them, their eyes were barely open and they couldn’t really walk.  The next day they seemed aware when we came in the room but couldn’t really see us and didn’t do much more than stand up and turn around.  On day three they seemed to see us and could wobble around a little.  Day four started the barking and walking.  On day five they started barking (or growling) at us and playing with each other a little.  Yesterday they figured out how to get past the high tech puppy barrier (a 3″ tall piece of cardboard across the door) so today they have been moved into puppy prison where they can romp more freely without romping onto our carpet.

Will has struggled more than I due to sleep deprivation from puppy yowls although I’m the one who has been getting up to let mama dog out in the middle of the night.  (She has to eat constantly to keep those little guys fed, which means she also has to go to the bathroom pretty often.)  We’re both a little snappish and are wondering how people with human babies keep a healthy relationship and don’t get totally overwhelmed.   We’ve decided that the first step is to avoid having nine babies.  Of any species, really.  Still, we’re adapting and  I think we’ll be fine for the rest of our fostering commitment (they go back to the Bloomington Animal Shelter in four weeks) but I’m not sure we’ll offer to do it again.

On the other hand, they are awfully cute.

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4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Dana said,

    January 7, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    Puppies! Ooooh, I want one!

    When I was growing up, our neighbors’ dog had 10 puppies, but I think it was easier for them not to go insane with the barking and bathroom trips because the mama dog already had a big outdoor pen to stay in most of the time. Of course, it was summer then. Probably not a good plan for Midwestern winter puppies.

    Have fun with them while you can!

  2. 2

    Will said,

    January 7, 2009 @ 1:48 pm

    If it were summer, we could put them in the little non-heated room that we’re using as storage right now. Since it’s not, we just have to make do.

    So far, so good!

  3. 3

    Jessica said,

    January 8, 2009 @ 7:36 pm

    Puppies are so cute!
    They’re also easier than human babies.
    I can see how having a baby can take a big toll on a relationship, and I hear it often does. I had a baby outside of a relationship, so I don’t know. But I think since everyone is exhausted and irritable in those first few weeks to months with a baby, its easy to get over it once things start to settle back down (as much as they ever settle down, maybe you just get used to it). Plus, I think we’ve evolved to have some sort of hormonal rush that makes us stick together better after we’ve had children with someone. Obviously, that doesn’t work for every one.
    Those puppies are so cute! I want one!

  4. 4

    Maggie said,

    January 12, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

    Jessica –
    I’ve no doubt that puppies are much easier than human babies but I think there are similar lessons learned in terms of sleeplessness and ridiculous amounts of laundry generated. And puppies are pretty cute but I have to imagine human babies generate much more impressive hormonal rushes to help keep parents going. So I think puppies are a reasonable trial run for puppies, at least in terms of going “Oh, we’re going to have to figure out who gets out of bed at 3:00 in the morning and who does the extra laundry and who cleans up the big ol’ pile of poop” although I expect human babies don’t poop under the furniture quite so often. :)

    They are getting bigger every day and have started to play quite a bit. They are also getting louder and more demanding. Mostly they just want food but they also really like to play with us and will cry if we walk by the pen without petting them. Unless they’re asleep, which is still about 75% of the time, thank goodness!

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