Singing The Naughty Puppy Blues

Ah, puppies. They’re adorable, energetic little balls of fluff that are constantly entertaining and comical. On the other hand, they’re also evil little devils who enjoy doing their business wherever and whenever the mood strikes them, love chomping and chewing anyone and anything they feel like (including, ahem, their own business) and, generally, seem determined to drive you crazy.

Meet Zooey. She’s the little half-Yorkie/half-Shih Tzu who joined our family three months ago and has managed to already find a warm place in our hearts (and also on my leg during a recent visit to the vets, but I digress). After growing attached to my daughter’s dog during an extended babysitting session that lasted the better part of a year, my wife and I thought the house felt kind of empty, an emptiness that could only be satisfied by another puppy. And that’s how the Legend of Zooey began.

How quickly we forgot that raising a puppy isn’t all that different from having a baby. Recently, friends of mine said they’d also considered getting a puppy but didn’t want to spend the 18 months required to train her. Eighteen months? What? At that point, I was wondering if I might have temporarily gone insane when we made our decision. Were we really prepared to devote the next 1.5 years to raising this little doggie? Apparently, we were, because here she is.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of a puppy’s presence in your household for a while (or ever), here’s a little reminder of some of the things you’re missing:

• The Business – How is it possible for a creature who weighs less than seven pounds to get rid of, what seems, twice that weight every day? Why do puppies think that the proper place to do their business is “everywhere?” Don’t they have any sense of decorum? I’ll have to ask her tomorrow morning at 2:00 a.m. We do a lot of talking during our late night strolls. She seems to be a pretty good listener when she’s half-asleep.

• The Energy – Is there a wind-up key that I haven’t noticed or did somebody use the wrong voltage of batteries in this animal? Because it’s not physically possible for something this small to run, jump, twirl and snap its jaws all at once. I consulted a scientist on this. Not possible.

• The Food Choices – Did somebody neglect to install taste buds on Zooey or did we get a defective model? Hey, I enjoy the occasional twig or branch as much as the next person but, seriously, what’s with the rest of this stuff? Rocks? Moss? Linoleum flooring? Dirty socks? Hey, my family thinks I enjoy some pretty weird foods, but Zooey makes me look like a finicky eater in comparison.

• The Biting – Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Do you ever take a break, Zooey? I swear I’ve seen her biting her bed when she’s sleeping. Hey, puppy! What did your blanket ever do to you, except keep you warm and comfy all night? Show some gratitude!

• The Constant Need For Affection – Recently, our pampered pooch has decided to roll over for belly rubs whenever anyone comes within five feet of her. That includes my immediate family, my in-laws, our friends, total strangers, that creepy looking delivery guy who stopped by last week and, I imagine, the team of burglars planning to steal our valuables in the middle of the night (I’ll meet you guys out on the lawn when Zooey and I are having our 2:00 a.m. conversation, okay? Just don’t steal my bathrobe.)

I exaggerate, of course. She’s a puppy, for gosh sakes! That’s what puppies do. They dump and dump and dump some more. They chase their tails until they fall down in exhaustion. They eat whatever they fancy – then throw it up – then eat it all over again. They bite anything that doesn’t bite back. And they want all your love, all the time.

And who would have it any other way? Puppies gotta be puppies and resistance is futile. All hail Queen Zooey of Zoolandia, the new imperial ruler of the Nixon household. Your loyal subjects welcome you.


Zooey in a rare, quiet, contemplative moment.