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  • Writer's pictureDan FitzPatrick

Growing Pain

Logan and I are exhausted. The cause of our collective fatigue is a black and white puppy named Bear. Apparently, he is now “our” Bear, as it is becoming quite apparent that he is not going anywhere and is intended by our humans to be part of our family for the long term.

Bear is actually quite cute, adorable even. He learned very quickly not to make a mess in the house and our experience with him to date suggests that he has a very pleasant disposition. He can’t communicate verbally with us just yet, but he appears to be very smart, so there’s hope.

Here’s the rub: he is very active, with extraordinarily high energy, and wants to play all the time. Like, literally, all the time. When we are outdoors, he insists on running like the wind. Of course, that means Logan and I have to run like the wind as well in order to keep up appearances. It would not do to have us adult Australian Shepherds out-run by a puppy, even if he too is a full-bred member of our breed.

Logan is much older than I, and as such cannot participate in this regular exercise for long stretches, which means that I am left to interact full-time with this little dog-dynamo. Bear has this annoying habit of starting at one end of our yard, running at me full tilt, then jumping up and nipping my ear or biting at some of my fur. It doesn’t hurt, but it does mess with my grooming and makes it hard for me to maintain my usual, serene, composed and majestic appearance.

I made the mistake of complaining about this to Logan, who nearly fell over laughing. “Cadbury,” he said, “you were EXACTLY like that when you were a puppy. I was nearly beside myself with aggravation! I’m embarrassed to admit it now, but I spent a long time hoping that our humans were just boarding you for some other family, and that you’d soon be gone. But I’m obviously now very happy that you stayed!’

That sort of put me in my place, and I made a vow not to complain again, at least not out loud.

Even Bear can’t be active constantly, and when he rests, he is, as I’ve heard our humans say, “out like a light.” As I observed him sleeping all spread-out on the rug, I remarked to Logan, “He is really growing quickly. It’s probably due to the enormous amount of food he consumes each day!”

“Logan,” I asked, “how is it that puppies, and all young animals actually, even humans, can grow so quickly in every direction yet still look like themselves, albeit larger versions of themselves? At the very least, I would think it would hurt tremendously!”

“Ah, Cadbury,” replied Logan, “that is a very big question. You are essentially asking me to explain the miracle of existence itself! No dog, or even any human, has ever truly explained how life, once begun, proceeds on a path uniquely individual yet predictably consistent with the form from which it was produced. Dogs have dogs, and cats have cats (even if we’d prefer otherwise), and somehow each is perfectly suited for the role it is to play in nature. Even more remarkably, the newly born have already within them the instincts necessary to survive, even if they have no one else to teach them.”

“Bear is lucky because he has the two of us to teach him the best way to become a valued member of the family life we share with our humans. And it will be his good fortune to do the same for some other puppy or puppies that come after us.”

“In the meantime, I suggest we view this early period of our life with Bear as a gift. Through his eyes, we can experience the thrill of discovering the world anew, and once again delight in the beauty surrounding us that we have perhaps become too accustomed with to see.”

“Growth is not pain-free, but pain is forgotten with time, and the goal is entirely worth the effort. I’ve long forgotten what a pain you were to me as a puppy, and I am more than pleased with the dog you have grown to be.”

“Now, let me be, as I have some sleep I’m long-entitled to catch up on.”

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