Hot dog! I’m getting a new pup to join our pack. On February 7th, Sherry and I get first pick from this White Swiss Shepherd litter. His name will be Nigel Jay Wiggins and I will love him and he will love me.
Throughout my peregrinations, many pups have come into my life, and I have learned so much from each one. Here are a few puppy-rearing lessons that have also taught me a thing or two:
1. Puppies respond better to love and affection than fear and punishment. Children do too. In fact, we all do, for our entire lives.
2. Puppies like to be assigned jobs they can perform daily. They look forward to doing their fair share for the family, whether that be protecting the property, getting the morning paper (as long as it isn’t delivered online) and joyously greeting their family members at the door. They enjoy being rewarded for such noble work, often with a gentle pat. As a child, I too took pride in little jobs that taught me responsibility and provided structure to each of my days. I also loved getting a pat on the head – and an occasional dime.
3. Puppies want to know when it’s time to sit and be quiet. I was blessed to find out, early in my life, that I wasn’t always the focus of everyone’s attention and that other family members, particularly the adults, had first dibs on center stage. Spoiled dogs can be a handful. So can spoiled children.
4. Puppies need nutritious food, lots of exercise and sound medical care to grow healthy bodies. Every child deserves the same.
5. Puppies develop habits, both good and bad, and habits can be hard to break. We all develop habits too. Our bad habits can create barriers. Our good habits can drive us forward toward success and fulfillment.
6. Puppies grow up quicker than we expect, and precious moments of connection can be lost. I found the same to be true with my children and grandchildren. Due to distractions, I squandered many a loving moment I’d love to have back today.
7. Puppies are going to make mistakes (some of which require warm water and a scrub brush), and that’s okay. Part of growing up is learning how to control certain urges, and mistakes can be learning opportunities for dogs, children and adults (refer back to #1).
8. Puppies can teach people around them how to play, even when the rest of us have had a bad day. I have a hunch that, at the end of my life, I will wish I had played more with puppies and children, and worked a little less at the office.
9. Puppies’ body language can be more important than what is barked. Often our own body language trumps anything we have to say before we say it.
10. The most important part of puppies’ lives are the loving relationships they enjoy with those special people in their inner circles. You know, I think that’s true for me as well.
I’m coming, Nigel Jay Wiggins!