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Puppy Love
by Wendy J. Bush

My boys have always wanted a puppy. Although dogs have always been a very important part of our family life, like most kids, they've had their hearts set on raising a pup of their own. But, as a busy mother of three stairstep kids, my hands were full enough without adding a chewing, accident-prone critter to the household. And, you know who always ends up doing all of the work -- Mom, of course!

It didn't help matters that their aunt and uncle breed lovable golden retrievers and that the boys regularly get to play with litters of the adorable little things. When they would look pitiful and plead with me, I had my stock reply, `You can't have a puppy until you are ready to take care of it.'

Well, to everyone's surprise, this past Christmas I decided that they were ready! Their aunt's dog, Goldee, had had a litter in early December, so on Christmas morning, the boys found a stuffed dog under the tree to be traded in for the real thing once it was weaned.

We've had Kneesa for five months now and I am amazed (and relieved!) to report that the guys have assumed this new responsibility admirably.

I am also impressed with what an educational experience it has been in many ways. In preparation for her homecoming, the boys checked out various books and videos on puppy care and training and dutifully read and discussed them. They prepared a suitable place for her in an accident-safe area (the kitchen), and planned a quick escape route outside for those frequent moments when nature would call.

They shoveled out a run in the snow in the backyard, carefully selected the right toys, collar and bowl, planned a schedule for sharing duties, and learned when she would need to visit Dr. Painless, the friendly vet.

They also carefully studied how to introduce a new pet to an existing pet, since our older dog isn't too friendly to trespassers on her territory, and our cat regards all canines as potential scratching posts.

When their aunt delivered Kneesa that snowy day, all hearts melted and the boys jumped into action. It was music to my ears to hear comments like, `I'll take care of that, Mom.' When Dad or I made a suggestion, it had to clear the committee of three. We often heard, `Nope. We can't do that. The book says....'

I soon recognized that many of the techniques they were using to properly train Kneesa were suspiciously similar to child rearing principles we had been using for years .... with varying degrees of success . I took the opportunity on several occasions to get in a few points for parents. `Now do you see why the book says not give in to a whining dog?' It was comical to see just how quickly the pup would disobey the boys if she thought she could get away with it.

I guess that's a case of `grandparent's revenge'. But their common sense won out, and Kneesa is now a very well-behaved puppy, to my great joy.

The boys also recognized yet another advantage of homeschooling when they observed, "Gee, Mom, if we were in school all day, who would train Kneesa?" I agreed, silently noting that the job would have been delegated to `You-Know-Who'.

But the biggest satisfaction I've gotten from watching the boys raise this pup is to see the love and compassion they have for her. A mental picture I'll never forget is finding the pup and my 15-year old son cuddled on the kitchen floor at 6am the morning after getting her. He felt sorry for her being all alone and decided to keep her company since it was her first night away from her mother.

With a smile on my face and tears in my eyes, I realized that if this is any indication of what kind of fathers they will turn out to be, then getting a puppy was one of the very best educational experiences they've ever had!

copyright 2000 by Wendy J. Bush
coordinator of PA Homeschool Connection

and publisher of Home School Headlines


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