Lum: Puppies and puppy breath
My granddaughter Riley and her partner Colleen are getting a cockapoo puppy at the end of the month. Riley put a picture of him on Facebook, four weeks old and I swear you could smell the puppy breath through the computer screen.
This adorable little doodlebug is chocolate brown; they have named him Obi, and I can’t wait to meet him, but that will be in August when they embark on a road trip from Seattle to Carbondale and back. By then, he will have lost his puppy breath, a succulent perfume that only lasts for about three months and then gradually transmogrifies into dog breath.
I think that puppy breath is the ultimate defense against canine infanticide — the breath of puppies smells so sweet that the new owners simply can’t bear to murder them, and by the time the puppy breath disappears the owners have safely passed that lethal threshold because they have fallen completely in love with the puppy and no longer want to reach for the machete when the puppy looks them straight in the eye and poops on the bed, nanoseconds after having been taken out to the yard for that purpose.
Puppy breath saves the little darling from strychnine when the new owner comes home to a cumulus cloud filling the living room and the cover of the down pillow ripped to shreds. You open your mouth to scream and puppy breath wafts in, shutting you up.
It’s hard to believe that my black dachshund puppies, Nicky and Freddie, just had their eighth birthday. Eight! Fifty-six in dog years; they’ve settled down quite a lot since their hellion days when puppy breath saved them.
They lived in terror of abandonment if I left the house, but they were on a mission to run away from home, escaping through every bent wire in the fence, wriggling through the wooden slats of the side fence. Freddie learned to flatten himself to the thickness of a pancake and slide under the back gate; when thwarted by a piece of plywood, he learned to climb up the gate itself.
My friend Hilary and I followed them around with hammers, chicken wire and cinder blocks as they scaled and tunneled their way out of the yard in search of greener grass.
They used their power of two to connive, divert and confuse. “Nicky peed,” “No Freddie did that,” “I’ll make like I’m going under the gate and you can run inside and poop on the rug.”
Now, I can leave the gate wide open and they will just yawn and mutter, “Hey, you left the gate open again.”
One thing my babies were absolutely adamant about was not peeing outside if it were raining. Nope. No way. “We will not wee wee in the rain, period.” I understand there’s a lot of rain in the Seattle area, so good luck with that, kids. Cockapoos probably aren’t as stubbornly willful as dachshunds are. I should omit that “probably.”
Riley’s family dog is a black and white cockapoo named Scout; she turned out great and will be a fine stepmother for Obi. My guys probably will lift their lips at him, as his older dachshund uncles are wont to do.
Su Lum is a longtime local who can’t wait to wee wee in the new half-million dollar outhouse at the Rio Grande park. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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