Grizzlebear, trying to blend in with the winter grass

We’ve had Grizz for one week, and he’s learned a lot. I’ve learned more, given that this is my first genuine puppy (the few dogs I’ve had were adult rescues, so I’ve never really dealt with puppymonsters before). I’ve got a few tips for anyone considering the acquisition of an adorable puppymonster.

Rule #1: Puppy reach, puppy eat

Grizzle, learning not to bite…sorta

Puppies are essentially big-eyed vacuum cleaners; anything that can go in their mouths WILL go in their mouths. Grizz has so far attempted to consume bugs, pinecones, rocks, chunks of concrete, shoes, rugs, noses, paper bags, mobile phones, an XBox controller, cardboard boxes, my glasses, Nathan’s pants, the TV remote, bedroom slippers, dirt, socks, cigarette butts, a water bottle, clothing donations, Christmas lights, cat litter, grass (LOTS of grass), cat food (and secondhand catfood, i.e., cat barf), furniture, various Nathan bodyparts (don’t ask), squirrel-chewed nutshells, the doorstop to Nathan’s office, a backscrubber, a Porsche gearshift knob, and my fingers.

In the first five days.

You don’t want to know what Nathan said when Grizz ate the Internet. It wasn’t polite. Nate had carefully tucked the electronics cords under a rug and hid the rug under the fat purple ottoman in his office. We thought it was cute that Grizz napped with his head under the ottoman’s skirt…until he emerged with half the Ethernet cable.

Half.

Grizz’ enthusiastic attempts to consume cat tails (the furry kind) went over BIG with our feline contingent. Lola was insulted and stalked off to file a complaint (with me). Nikki, being a lethal weapon disguised as a cute-n-cuddly kitten, swatted Grizz on the nose. Grizz has now learned to approach Nikki from behind, avoiding the pointy end.

Lola promises that the next time that bouncy barking fuzzball gets within two feet she’s gonna eat him. I told her she’d better do it now, before Grizz grows up and the situation is reversed.

I think she’s making plans.

The one thing Grizz has NOT tried to consume is the only one we’d really worried about: Squirrels. Willow and her brood still come into Nate’s office with abandon, and have even touched noses with the puppy. Grizz watches them with half an eye open, and goes back to sleep. Nathan is carefully editing his puppytoy collection to exclude anything remotely resembling a small animal, so we hope Grizz’ disinterest is here to stay.

Rule #2: Standing puppy=peeing puppy

THIS is a safe, defecatory- and urinary-free position.

A puppy holds an amazing amount of liquid, but only for a very short time. Grizz is almost good at going outside for defecatory purposes (tonight being a notable exception), but doesn’t believe it’s necessary for mere urination. Baby animal urine is supposed to be completely sterile and odorless; but Grizz apparently didn’t get that memo, either.

We’re getting used to stepping in puddles in our socks.

I’ve become VERY suspicious when Grizz stops bouncing and gyrating. If he sits down, fine, but Grizz standing is almost certainly Grizz watering his environs. A squatting Grizz is about to stink up the house. And unlike cats, who sometimes make little defecatory statements of disdain in untoward places that never EVER touch their pristine fur, Grizz has no compunction about wallowing in his output and tracking it all over the house.

I understand there are tried-and-true methods to eliminate a puppy’s in-house elimination practices. I welcome them all.

Nathan on morning Grizzleduty is fascinating: He can’t let Grizz touch the ground before they’re safely outside because if he does, Grizz will cut loose like a firehose. So he scoops Grizz up with one hand and tucks him under an arm, heading for the bathroom while STILL HOLDING THE PUPPY. Then he performs his morning ablutions with one hand and carries Grizz downstairs into the backyard to drop him on the grass.

I’m adding puppy-juggling to Nathan’s many skills.

Rule #3: Puppy names are contagious

Grizz resembles a small bear cub, which is how he got his name. It’d be great if he just had one name, but puppy names seem to meet, fall madly in love, and breed variations by the thousands. Grizzle. Gizzibar. Gizzy. Grizwold. NO BITE GRIZZ! Buddy. Mr. Grizz. Dammit Grizz. Grizzipup. Grizzums. Gizzigiz. Doggidog. No Grizz. Grizzibear. NoNONO BAD Grizz. Bubba. Gizziboy. GizzGizz. Kissiboy. Puppup. Little Boy. Grizzlewizzle. Gizzidog. STOP IT GRIZZ.

We’re probably giving that dog an identity crisis.

Rule #4: Puppies are a growth investment

That doesn’t mean “puppies MAKE you a lot of money,” but rather the opposite: Whatever you think you’ll be spending on your new puppy…double it. You’ll still be ‘way ‘way under.

Cats are relatively low-maintenance; if necessary, I could leave Lola and Nikki overnight just by overflowing their food and water bowls. (Well, I’d still pay the price but it would be in glares and rude comments on my return). They make their own fun with pieces of paper, stray insects, and each other. Let’s face it: Cats are a cheap date.

Puppies are not. You gotta watch Grizz every minute of the day (and pretty much the night, too: Thanks, Nathan), and (1) Puppy-proof the house to ensure he isn’t about to commit puppicide on some electrical cord or poisonous blob and (2) Give him toys to keep him occupied.

Grizz has more toys than a toystore…and prefers the boxes they came in

Lots and LOTS of toys. Grizz has a smaller attention span than his bladder, requiring a new toy roughly every three seconds.After five days in our home, Grizz has more toys than the cats, more toys than my nieces, probably more toys than Mattel. The only toy that’s held his attention longer is my sock, which he stole from the laundry.

And it’s not just toys. Besides vet bills, food, and expected doggie expenses, we’ve also invested in:

  • Baby gates.
  • A giant crate–the vet says Grizz will eventually fill it up.
  • Dog food containers to hold the ginormous quantities of dog food he will one day consume
  • A drinking fountain. Grizz likes carrying his full waterbowl around the house. I wouldn’t mind if he carried it UPRIGHT, but no… We retaliated by swapping his bowl for a doggie fountain that resembles an office watercooler; fill the giant jar with water, add a lid/filter, and upend it in a giant two-part dish. Grizz can’t move it (he’s tried); although he gets a kick out of splashing in it.
  • Pooper scooper shovel and scoopy thing, with lots and lots of little plastic bags in rolls.
  • Various cleaning solvents for you-know-what accidents in the house.

  • Something called “bitter spray” to convince Grizz that some things are not worth chewing. He is going to take a LOT of convincing, because he may be the single stubbornest creature on Earth.
  • Doggie seatbelt. Grizz is not into carriers and we’d probably need a semi-truck to hold a car carrier big enough for fully grown Grizz anyway, so instead we’ve purchased a little contraption that turns his harness into a seatbelt. We haven’t tried it yet–I’m anticipating major doggie drama when we do.

Rule #5: Drama queen? Meet DramaDog.

Attire Grizz in his spiffy new puppy harness and leash, and you’d think we were sending him down that last Green Mile.

He cries. Whines. Balks. Wails. Looks at you with those big, brown pleading eyes, sadly asking why is his human’s favorite hobby torturing puppies?

Unleash him, and he’s right as rain, a happy pup heeling and staying right with you. Grizz really does follow us around like, well, a puppy. I don’t think we’ll have much trouble persuading him to heel. (OTOH, when you’re a bit gimpy in the leg, like me, having a small furry bearcub slipping between your ankles is a tripping hazard. I’m trying to become VERY vigilant.)

Puppywhimpers are DramaDog’s favorite medium of exchange. He adores Nate and must keep him in sight. If he can’t: Whimperfest. If that doesn’t work, he’ll try howlfest. Grizz’ vocal range contains notes that an out-of-tune viola couldn’t find.

If Nate’s not around, Grizz will accept me as a substitute playmate but the whimpering won’t stop for about 40 minutes. It’s apparently to convince me of Grizz’ callous abandonment by his REAL parent. (And yet I’m doing NOTHING about it, can you believe the sheer cruelty?)

Grizz can’t be in the forge–no one wants to even think about tripping over a large puppy while holding red-hot steel–but he sure as heck knows where it is, and that Nathan likely is inside. Yesterday I spent time in the enameling studio while Nathan was out back, blacksmithing Christmas presents. Every time I took Grizz out back to relieve himself he made a beeline for the studio shed, barking and scratching at the door for his human.

Inside, Grizz will run to Nathan’s chair, rise up on his hind legs and search the cushions with his nose, apparently in the belief that Nathan has slipped between the cushions.

Rule #6: There is no such thing as an indestructible dog toy

So if these things are everlasting and virtually indestructible… why are there refills?

If there were, why would the pet store sell refills for an “everlasting, virtually indestructible” chew toy?

Nathan tells me about a time he watched a German Shepherd chew through a chain link fence just to have a playdate with another dog. Did I mention our backyard fence is chain link?

I’m hoping that puppy toy manufacturers are aware of this and construct their toys accordingly. So far, there is little sign of that.

Toys made for chewing don’t hold Grizz’ interest for more than a second or two…unless you’re spinning it on your finger. Grizz immediately jumps for…your finger. I can’t fault his intelligence, but those little teeth are SHARP.

Grizz bites EVERYTHING. There’s no malice in it; chomping is apparently Grizz’ way of playing. Or expressing affection. Or exploring.

Ouch. Nathan has explained that I need to stop logically reasoning with Grizz and develop an angry voice, like a doggimamma. NO BITE, NO BITE!!! Grab him by the scruff of the neck, force his head down and hold him there until he settles, then give him a toy as a substitute finger.

Working on that. Sigh. I suspect giving birth (to a human) would be simpler.