He’s got puppy teeth and he’s not afraid to use them

 “Ooooh he’s just like a teddy bear! Sooo fluffy! I bet you just want to cuddle him all the time!” yelps my friend Natalie as she meets my fluffy, teddy bear-like golden retriever pup for the first time. Well no, actually, because I value the use of my arms and legs. He may look cuter than a kennel full of bog roll puppies, but he’s got very sharp, very numerous teeth. And he’s not afraid to use them. I’d love to cuddle him all the time, but at the moment, during what the experts laughably call the “nipping” phase, the choice between stealing a cuddle while he steals the use of my ankles with his razor-lined chops is an obvious one.

He doesn’t act like a rabid dog all the time – if it wasn’t for the frenzied jaw action Baxter would truly be the perfect dog. He has an intensely sweet nature, loves rolling over to have his golden tum tickled, can sit, stay, respond to “come”, gives licky kisses, doesn’t jump up for his food, goes to bed on time, sleeps for 10 hours a night and is as much fun as a barrel-load of fun monkeys. But only in the kitchen. There’s some weird thing going on in his little puppy brain where he has a personality transplant as soon as he is allowed to cross the baby-gated threshold into the living/dining room.

As soon as he crosses that crucial barrier, the sweet, well-behaved canine angel transforms into the crazy dog from the Jim Carrey film The Mask (when it’s got its mask on). And, no joke, we do have a green mask that he loves to play with, which he dug out from under the sofa where it had lain since my 14-year-old’s last birthday/Hallowe’en party. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

He’ll thunder through, massively disproportionate paws galloping and floppy ears flying, leaving me weakly crying “Nooooooooo!” as he mounts first one sofa, pausing briefly only to ram his face into whatever food whatever child seated there might be eating, then it’s a hop and a skip onto the coffee table to scatter whatever may have foolishly been left there, perhaps having a bit of a nibble on the post as he flies onward to the next sofa, alighting on a cushion which he shakes maniacally to make sure it’s really dead, then a little leap as he attempts to land on the laptop resting on son No 2’s lap, treating himself to a nibble on an ear as he passes, then an aborted attempt to mount the desk on the other side of the room as I reach him, grab hold as he tries to eat my hair, and get him safely to the floor. He gets an awful lot done in those two and a half seconds I can tell you.

I have a mountainous pile of puppy books, I did my revision assiduously before we got him, I’ve tried ignoring him and gazing into the middle distance as advised, but he just clamps his little teeth on harder and leaps higher, and I’m worried about his fragile bendy joints. And my family’s flesh. The only solution is to place him (calmly, as the books say, which is a Herculean task each time) back in the kitchen. This wasn’t so challenging when he was little, roughly five minutes ago, but in those proverbial five minutes he has blossomed into a hefty 20lb pup. He’s like a big crazy toddler with teeth. 

But as I stagger back through to the kitchen with him writhing in my arms, while hissing at my 14-year-old to close the baby gate behind me, the dog from The Mask relaxes as I put him on the floor, those mournful dark brown eyes gaze up at me, looking sorry and sad, and he rolls over. It’s like when you’ve had enough of the crippling tiredness and hectic schedule of caring for your baby, then they smile, and it’s all forgotten.

Next stop, puppy training.

 

 

 

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