What my Puppy has Taught Me

Nothing.

The only thing he can do that I can’t do is lick his own butt hole, and I’ve no ambition to do that.

Meet Porter, whippet/pointer mix, speed incarnate, Usurper of the Blanket Fort Queen, demolisher of anything plush, He Who Has Eaten a Thundershirt off his Own Body. He doubled our family’s foot count, and — yeah, that’s weird too. We’re not just a married couple making out in a dimly-lit bar corner anymore. We’re still that, but we’re also a love seat body pile when we’re all home from work.

He has not taught me anything but having a puppy has taught me a great deal. He ambles through the house, serving a constant reminder of how correct we are in deciding we aren’t ready for kids. I spent most of my twenties working at Champs Sports, pointing out every malcontent brat and declaring: “Reason number infinity why I’m NEVER having kids.” Nowadays, I only need one: As my bloggerrlfriend Katie Gard so rightly puts it:

Kids? None.
I’m lucky the dogs are still alive.

I know exactly what she means now. At least we can kennel this one: a human child would eventually outgrow the crate or figure out how to escape it. Kidding aside, your life is different when you’re in charge of a living, breathing thing.

Even a month into owning him, my wife and I still look at each other the way the Weird Science kids used to and say, “This is OUR DOG.”

He sure is, but OUR DOG doesn’t care if you’re playing League of Legends or coming up on the ending of a TV show. Once OUR DOG starts sniffing and walking in circles, nothing is more important than getting OUR DOG outside. Otherwise, OUR DOG is leaving a “Porter Pie” on the carpet. This is part of responsibility for a living, breathing, peeing, pooping thing.

It has taught patience – and by “patience” I mean standing outside for 20 minutes waiting for him to find the right spot. Sound preposterous? Look at it this way: How long did it take YOU to find the right spot? Few years? Hell, I’m turning 34 this week and I still don’t always.

He’s a social eater. It’s weird, but we have to account for the quirks of a living, breathing, peeing, pooping thing that only wants to eat when the humans are there to see. If it doesn’t look like he’s eaten yet that day, my wife and I coordinate a kitchen trip to lure him to his dishes. He eats, looks up, hears “Good boy!” over and over, reaches back into his dish, chew and repeat.

You should see this stuff we’re feeding him. It’s called “evolutionary dog food” and there’s a picture of a wolf on the bag. We’re hoping he doesn’t evolve like that. I can tell you what he does with the carbs, though. He goes to the dog park and moves like the other dogs would in fast-forward. For him, it’s a gift and a curse: he loves being chased, but no other beings can keep up.

While he’s off zooming in circles, my wife and I are taking more romantic walks than ever. We’ll chatter and occasionally call out for Porter. He’ll dash back to be seen, and take off again with his friends. I’ll take my wife’s perpetually warm, perfectly-manicured hand in my frozen meat hook, she’ll grimace, I’ll laugh, and we’ll go back on our way.

That’s life, now, and it’s nice. We’re not watching our parents’ dogs anymore. This one is our living, breathing, peeing, pooping thing that only wants to eat when the humans are there to see and wants to be chased but hasn’t found a worthy pursuer.

If he’s taught me anything, it’s … nope, still just the butt-licking. He’s doing it right now as we speak.