Saturday, August 18, 2007

Hazards

Puppyhood is fleeting and fraught with danger. Most days Luka is full of puppy bravado and bravely challenges vacuum hoses, ladders, and little old ladies with umbrellas. He sneaks up on napping bunnies like a stealthy cat and pounces at plastic grocery store bags. He talks back when disciplined, yet sits politely while waiting for his dinner.

Each day, with frequent walks to new places and the added help of a weekly puppy class, he's learning some manners and being exposed to new things. I'm amazed with how forward and unafraid this pup is with strangers and unfamiliar things. For all of his life my Buddy would approach the downtown area of our little neighborhood with his tail between his legs - too many people and too much activity always made him apprehensive - yet this little guy trots forward with a happy tail, glad to meet anyone who will pause long enough to coo over him.

He's been stepped on more than once by clumsy strangers and has learned not to put himself underfoot despite his eagerness. Just yesterday he learned how to go down stairs for the first time and was quite pleased with himself for no longer needing to be carried outside for potty breaks like a little baby. He's tall enough now to surf the top of the coffee table; making yet another piece of furniture that I have to keep free of clutter. He spends workdays napping, waiting for us to come home to walk him and peeling paint from the kitchen baseboards.

Everything must be explored with his mouth and teeth. Some flower or rock or patch of dirt has managed to upset his stomach - we've been dealing with that the last few days. Healthy portions of boiled rice and some canned pumpkin have gotten his poops back to normal, but not without accident and a sleepless night or two.

We've been playing fetch in the yard and he's loving that. He's still very clumsy and most often lands on his head before getting the ball in his mouth. Today we had a scare when he carried the ball under the Rose of Sharon hedge and disturbed a bunch of ground-nesting wasps. I thought his panic was because the ball rolled out of his reach or that his lead was tangled among the branches, but coming closer I saw that he was covered in wasps. Poor thing! I called Rich from across the yard and we brushed them all off, but Luka was stung and yelping and frightened. We called the vet just to be sure he'd be okay and he is, but it scared me how he became so suddenly quiet and subdued. I wonder if he'll be put off playing fetch now or if he'll pester bees in the garden the way Buddy always did.

The books all say that what pups learn now sticks with them for life, so we're mindful that his expereinces are all as positive as can be. Most indignities have been easily remedied by the generous administration of cookies, but I'm not so sure that this one won't sting for a good while in his memory.

20 comments:

Liza Lee Miller said...

Poor baby! I hope he does have a good strong fear of bees and leaves them alone. I'm delighted to hear how happy and outgoing he is -- great sign. Could he please come and teach Ruby to stay out from under our feet, please? She regularly runs right under us and it shocks me because she's very smart and all my labs figured it out quickly. Weird!

Kiss Luka for me -- poor ouchy baby!

rcwbiologist said...

Glad to hear Luka is ok after the wasp episode. Your household sounds like ours as we also have a new pup that is exploring with her teeth.

Laura said...

Awww, poor Luca!

You wrote, The books all say that what pups learn now sticks with them for life. That is so true. Our 4-year-old chocolate lab, Lily, had an incident as a puppy where she got into a swimming pool without really knowing what she was getting into. To this day, she loves water on her legs but is not a big fan of swimming (very un-lablike!)

Jayne said...

Poor baby! I hope this does not dampen his spirit of adventure.

Cathy said...

Awwwww . . . sweet little fella. I'm so sorry he tangled with those meanies. He's probably acquired a healthy regard for that rose of sharon,

KGMom said...

Those puppy eyes in the photo say it all--a mixture of pleading, wanting to play, a touch of mischief, and most of all wanting to be loved!
Sounds like Luka is very much loved.

Dave said...

He'll probably stay shy of that bush for a long time. Are the puppy classes for you or him?

Ruth said...

What a lot of work you are doing, but it is rewarding. He sounds like he has a wonderful temperment. What is it about dogs and baseboards. Ours had more than the paint chewed off them!

burning silo said...

Glad Luka is feeling better now after the digestive upset. The first few months of having a new puppy always seems kind of stressful as they're always getting into something.
Regarding the stings... a long while ago, we had a beautiful sable Rough Collie named Sheena. This was back when we had goats and horses. When she was about a year old, she ran against the electric fence in our barnyard and got zapped on one side. She ran away from it yelping, and then stood looking at her side and then at us. After that event, any time she got upset, she would look at that spot on her side as if it still stung. It seems dogs don't forget traumatic events too easily.

Mary said...

Laura,

Sounds like Luka is a live wire! LOL! I have one of them...Chloe.

Keep the Benedryl on hand. I've used it many times over the years for bee stings, spider bites and such.

Your days bring back so many memories. I think Luka will bring a lot of joy to your lives if you can get over the hee-bee jee-bees of puppyhood. Sleep well, Mether.

LauraO said...

Poor little guy. I really dislike wasps. Bees are cool. Wasps..not so much.

dguzman said...

I hate wasps too--so aggressive. Poor Luka; hope he remembers this and steers clear next time.

Jean said...

Poor Luka!

Susan Gets Native said...

Think worrying about a puppy is awful? Raising kids is like being pecked to death by baby ducks.
: )
Seriously, though....Hope he learned to leave the wasps alone. I remember a post of Julie's where she sat and watched Chet investigate a big black snake, (non-venomous, of course) and talked about how it would be a good lesson for him if he had been bitten. That woman has stones, let me tell ya.
It's good to *see* you again!

z-silverlight said...

My goodness. That is awful. Our family dog at home, hated bees and wasps. She would go after them with her lips pulled way back and kill them in teeth.
She didn't like having been stung.
We amazed. We couldn't stop her, it was her thing.

Marie said...

I really enjoyed your post. Any dog lover would.
When our chocolate lab was only 6 weeks old, she got an accidental poke in a muscle by the vet while he was giving her a shot, she let out a yipe and then a growl. She growled at hiand bared her teeth for the next 13 years, although she was a very friendly dog with everyone else.

Dorothy said...

Oh Laura, poor Luka! I hope he's OK. That must have been so painful for him. My daughter, also named Laura, has two Goldens. One of them swallowed a rock, and one of my co-worker's dogs did too. Both pups are OK now..but it was touch and go for both of them. I guess you'll have to watch him like a baby, even when he's grown.

mon@rch said...

Luka is soo cute and they do love to chew on everything! They do get older and calm down some!

RuthieJ said...

What a great story, Laura. Sounds like Luka's adjusting well to his new life. I'm glad your sweet little guy has recovered from his wasp incident.

kate said...

It is amazing what puppies can get into - I hope Luka recovers quickly.

So true, too, how these early days teach lessons that last for life.

Enjoy these fleeting puppy months!