16 weeks old
For weeks I have been working on a post on the parallels between getting a puppy and having a baby. There are many similarities--your life is forever changed, your sleep patterns are interrupted, and you are irrevocably tied to the schedule and behavioral learning curve of a small, endearing, big-eyed creature.
In some ways, I think it is easier to have a puppy than a baby. The biggest is that you can leave a puppy at home for short errands. (Though this reminds me of the story when J was working his way through grad school as an electrician, he called to report that he was replacing wiring in an apartment where a young mother tied a helium balloon to the ankle of her infant to give it something to look it, laid the baby in the center of her bed, and went out for several hours, leaving an anxious J alone in the apartment with the baby.) In our case, leaving our children OR Sampson home alone is now more about the risk of property damage than a call to Child Protective Services.
Add to the list of things Sampson has chewed when left unattended:
--the corner of the bathroom door
--two more pairs of flip flops
--the finger off Baby Hideous II and part of Swimming Ariel's foot
--the toilet brush (gross!) and two hairbrushes (this could be in retaliation for us fluffing his fuzz with them)
--all of the stuffing out of my grandmother's antique dressing stool
--the lower half of Snow White's arm. We did a clean amputation with my garden nippers and I read Piper the story of Bethany Hamilton, the surf champion who went on to ride curlers after losing an arm to a tiger shark. She was impressed and we agreed Snow White could go on to fulfill her princess duties with half an arm and it's actually boosted her popularity rating in Piper's doll hierarchy.
On the other hand, you can take a baby many places you can't take a dog. Like the Jersey shore, or the grocery store, or the swim club, or in most cases, a restaurant. I remember the first phrase I learned when my Newf Dakota and I were trekking around Spain was: ¿Puedo llevar mi perro aqui? The answer was almost always an enthusiastic Si!
Not so in the States. This means that life with Sampson equals outings that are planned in short spurts, and occasionally, peppered with desperate calls to nearby friends and family for a quick stop by the house for Sampson duty. Dogs don't wear diapers.
Also, babies (or at least my babies) are very easy to placate. For my kids, nursing (not an option with the dog obviously) or trundling them in the sling or backpack and going for a walk outdoors solved almost every problem.
BABES IN ARMS...
We Hoffmans are people who carry our young.
In backpacks, slings and arms.
Even our hairy son Sampson got his fair share of time 'in arms', but this is no longer a feasible means of transport for a puppy who weighs more than a bag of horse feed.
Our days of carrying him are over.
Still, a walk outside does wonders for everyone's demeanors.
The Importance of Peers or "Puppy Playgroup"
One of the biggest similarities between owning a puppy and having a hairless human baby is that one of the most important things you can find are peers, playgroup friends and in the case of the canine, owners who can commiserate and reassure each other that 'this too shall pass'.
This week we found Sampson's first puppy playgroup: Meet Mouse, the bossy miniature Dachsund, Mojo the white Lab pup (2 weeks younger than Samps) and Moose, the 9 month old mutt.
All four dogs had a grand afternoon of romping. Mouse bossed everyone around with her high-pitched yipes, Moose mostly enjoyed time with a distracted Mojo's toys, and Mojo and Sampson went round after round of "pinned ya!" Despite a weight and age advantage, Sampson was on Mojo's turf and his owner is a wrestling coach, so he spent a lot of time on the bottom.
This is typical of the docile Newf, and they all ended the day as friends, politely taking turns 'digging' all the water out of Moose's bowl.
Sampson slept well that night, exhausted from an afternoon with his playmates. Our next visit will be at the pool, where Sampson plans to show off his stellar swimming skills.
I remember I had original plans to take photos with Sampson and an object to show his growth. I've heard stories of parents who took photos of their child in the same shirt from birth to eighteen, or even in an iconic item, like a bridesmaid dress from the mother's wedding or something, and I always admired this idea, but never got my shit together to pull it off. Another parallel between parenting babies or puppies--someone will always raise the bar and do it better.
But below, you can see Sampson and our 'baby', from when he first came home to last week. While Piper is growing slowly, Samps has tripled in size...
What hasn't changed? How much these two adore each other. And the nipping? Almost (almost!) gone.
Stay tuned next week, for a guest blog post from Sampson's new canine BFF Mojo...