Saturday, September 17, 2011

There's a Puppy in the Garden!

Sam the day after he joined our household
       That puppy is growing like a weed, averaging about half a pound a day.  His name is Sam, in memory of the very large black lab that was a member of my husband's family when we met.  His birthday is July 10 and he already weighs more than 22 pounds.  We expect him to grow to around a hundred.  We adopted Sam as a playmate for our lab/great Pyrenees mix after we lost our older dog to cancer.
       I'd forgotten how much a puppy is like a child and how much work is involved in raising a dog. Sam is busy reminding me, and also reminding me how delightful a puppy can be.
       The first time he accompanied me into my vegetable garden, he was less than eight weeks old and only a day away from being taken from his birthplace, mom, and eleven brothers and sisters.  I was after tomatoes.  He was overwhelmed by the unfamiliar plants.  He tried hiding under the vines.  Mostly, he wanted me to pick him up and cuddle him.  A few days later, we entered the garden again.  He still liked sheltering under the vines, but didn't dwell there.  There were too many other options to explore.  He had a great time rolling down the ledge and into the potatoes.  Rolling in the bed of soft carrot tops was even more fun, and helping me collect ground cherries was totally cool! He ran off with what he may have thought of as a ball, but I identified as an onion.  The last time I collected tomatoes, he tried to climb into my partially-filled bowl.
       I've seen him sight his first butterfly.  Watched him try to determine if the water coming out of a hose was something to be played with.  Had his help when I'm pulling weeds; he wants to grab them out of my hands--not being at all careful to miss my hands with those needles he has for teeth.  He likes to bite leaves off living plants too, particularly nasturtium and lilies.  
       He's still small enough that we worry about letting him outside unaccompanied.  Mostly, we're concerned that a hawk might swoop down for him.  Then there are the coyotes.  There are a lot of them around the farm, but we've never seen any inside the Invisible Fence area.  They may not know why, but they do know what line Nightshade, our adult dog, will not cross.  They'll sit on the other side and tease him.  Nightshade respects that line all around the house so he isn't likely to lead Sam where he shouldn't go, but as the puppy grows, so does his curiosity and adventurousness.  So Sam is always accompanied, if only by his big (adopted) brother.  
Learning to play together.

       When Nightshade came to live with us as a puppy, it took three days for his new, older brother to accept him.  Likewise, it took Nightshade three days to accept that Sam is now a family member.  At first, their play was tentative and cautious.  Now they tear around the house and yard showing teeth and tripping each other up, all in fun. Well, sometimes, Nightshade gives me a very put-upon look.  Sam can still walk under Nightshade's belly.  That won't be the case much longer.
       Sam has so much to learn.  Right now the paths through the yard mean nothing to him.  He races around the trees in the Children's Garden, nipping plants as he goes.  Nightshade stays on the paths watching him, waiting for the puppy attack; the paths are where they are because those are the paths Nightshade follows.  He habitually turns onto them even when that means he travels twice as far to get where he's going.  This seems to be a canine thing, so I have little doubt that Sam will pick up on it eventually.  We're teaching him a new vocabulary, introducing him to the leash, trying to housetrain him.  Of course, he's learned already that he can trust me.  When I call him, he races to me and plops his rump down on my feet, then looks up at me with those big brown eyes, ready to rest his chin on one hand while the other caresses his soft ears.   
      He and the cats have yet to reach an understanding.  The first time Sam came eye to eye with our thirteen pound Pickle, Sam ran.  I'd have turned tail too, if someone my size looked at me that way!  When Pickle runs now, Sam pursues.  Peachfuzz has been making herself scarce.  They'll work it out.  
       Right now the pup is wiped out from a busy day keeping track of us while we cut down trees in the yard and removed the brush.  Tomorrow we hope to split wood.  He won't like the noise, but I'll wager he'll keep us in sight while he and Nightshade play.             

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