Sunday, December 19, 2004

Puppy Heaven

Another major life step has occurred in the lives of the nine little wonders in the next room. This morning, I re-arranged the utility room so that my folding three-piece wall no longer keeps puppies in one corner but rather keeps them out of the corner where the freezer and the washer/dryer and the hole in the wall reside. Their tiny world has tripled in size, and now it boasts snoozing, playing and pooping areas, not to mention toys.

They have a plastic thread spool, a few wiffle golf balls, a carpet square, a plastic bucket, a soda bottle, and a couple of knotted washcloths. Puppy heaven.

The puppies also have a step in the corner, which covers a hole into garage and great beyond. They wail with desperate longing to move that step, a maneuver they accomplished one day last week, pulling pink fluff out of the hole and rejoicing. Fortunately, I was home. Now the step is weighted with four full paint cans—all tightly sealed as they came from the paint store—in an attempt to keep them from moving the step again. My conscious and unconscious mind frets over the image of paint cans falling on puppies, latex and oil in many colors pooling in the low spots of the utility room’s uneven floor, hurt paws or worse.

T wants to know why I don’t just fasten something over the hole, but I envision puppies chewing on the edges of whatever I fasten there. You can’t win with puppies. On the other hand, perhaps I could fashion something that would also cover the electrical outlet with china outlet cover in that wall, an item that I would not have ever considered chewing. But then I’m not a puppy, and to them it is interesting. The whole world is interesting.

Most interesting of all, they have discovered that there is a world beyond even the utility room. There is a world with slippery wood floors good for chasing your sister, and a world with carpets that smell like the big dogs. There is a big creature that does fascinating things, like sweeping the floors and wearing shoes with laces.

The gates, however, are a bummer from the puppies view. The big dogs, especially Nell who requires respite from grasping paws and tiny teeth, and I appreciate the gates. There is a heavy metal table that works quite nicely as a sliding door between kitchen and utility room, but now that the puppies know about the world beyond, its opaque finality frustrates them. The baby gate allows a view into that intriguing kitchen, but I am not secure in its long term efficacy, since it was designed for human babies who don’t have such sharp teeth, nor are they small enough to squeeze through a hole that is just a little, just a little (c’mon guys, help me with this!), just a little bigger.

If I’m in the kitchen, outside the baby gate, there is a chorus of puppy chirps, barks and whines. “Oh, please, please!” they seem to say, “Our world is too small. We want to be out there with you and the big dogs!” The big dogs stand aghast, a few feet outside the gate. The four of us are standing firm against the demands of the nine, but we are aware that they are growing faster than we are and have more energy. We must have boundaries; we must use the strategies and wiles our maturity has taught us.

The nine have now collapsed with the weariness of exhausted demands, a pile of puppies just inside the gate. Any minute they will wake again, pushing against the limits of that little world that only this morning tripled in size. Puppy heaven.

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