I’m turning this page over to mom today.  She’s going to tell you a (rather embarrassing) story from when I was a puppy.  If you’d like to see your story on this page, email it to waterbowltales@yahoo.com as a .doc or .pdf attachment, or simply put it in the body of the email (be sure to put “blog story” in the subject line).  Please go to our Facebook page and “Like” Water Bowl Tales; and follow us on Twitter @waterbowltales.  Be sure to read the About page (click the button in the upper left corner of this page) to find out how you can submit your story for publication in our book.  And tell your friends!  🙂

Ahem, now here’s mom…

Here’s a quick story from when Oliver was a puppy.  It’s not one I would put in the book, but I thought it was pretty funny at the time.

Oliver came to live with me when he was five weeks old.  He was soft and round and fuzzy, and of course, oh so cute.

I got him from a friend of mine.  Her daughter’s dog, and her sister’s dog, got together and had a litter of puppies (their third, actually).  I wasn’t sure I wanted a dog.  I’d never had a dog of my own before.  To me they seemed expensive and demanding, and I wasn’t sure I had what it took to give the puppy as much time and attention as it would need.

When my friend put him in my arms for the first time he was terrified!  He gave these short, soft little grunts, but he was too terrified to move.  But oh was he wonderful.  A mostly black puppy with downy fur, his muzzle was white near his nose and had a streak of white up to his forehead.  It reminded me of a champagne flute.  He had brown and white markings around his eyes and on his belly.  My friend had picked him out for me because he had a white tip at the end of his tail.  She said dogs with white tips on their tails were the smartest of the litter.  The instant I held him I knew he was mine; though in truth, my friends wanted me to have him more than I thought I wanted to have him.  I took him home, laid him on my bed, gave him the purple plush ape toy I’d bought for him, and watched him.  He just laid there doing nothing but grunting.

Not a big dog family, ours had only two dogs in my lifetime.  We got our first, Bridget, when I was about five years old.  When we moved to a different state a year later we had to give her away.  When I was in Junior High we got another dog, Puddles.  We got her as a puppy, but I don’t remember her puppy stage.  I was pretty wrapped up in school and friends and my selfish teenage years.  I think my mom did most of the potty training.  A couple of decades later I found myself alone with two litter box trained cats and a puppy I didn’t know what to do with—though I knew he needed to be housebroken, however that was done (I sure didn’t have a clue as to what to do).

I got lots of advice, but one thing I kept hearing about and reading over and over was to crate train your puppy.  The theory is that they won’t mess their crate, and while you’re not at home to keep an eye on them it’s the safest place for them to be.

One evening I had to go to a meeting for a community theater group I volunteered with.  I put Oliver in the crate, said goodbye, and left the house.  When I got home I immediately went to the crate.  It was metal, black, and was large enough that it could hold about four of him, eight if you stacked more puppies on top.  He was around seven weeks old at the time and stood only about eight inches off the floor.  It was the first time I’d ever left him alone and I was anxious to see how he’d done left alone for the couple of hours I’d been gone.

The crate was in my bedroom with the door to the crate facing in toward my bedroom and the back of the crate toward the doorway.  Apparently he heard me come in the house because there he stood on his hind legs clawing at the back of the cage to get out, a big old grin on his face.  He whined and clawed and fussed.  He seemed thoroughly thrilled I was home, and as if he couldn’t wait to get at me.  If the crate had been made of cardboard he’d have got himself out.  As it was, I needed to open the door for him.  Which I did.  Then I went off to the bathroom, because, you know, nature calls for us humans just as it does for animals.

The weird thing was that he didn’t follow me to the bathroom.  For two weeks he’d been following me around the house, but this time he was nowhere to be found.  So, I went back to my bedroom.  There he stood clawing at the back of the crate!  The door stood wide open, and if he’d just turned around, he’d have been able to walk out on his own.  But not Oliver.  Oliver with the white tip at the end of his tail, the supposed indicator that he was the smart one of the litter, couldn’t figure out how to get out of a crate with an open door.  I couldn’t help but laugh.

It took until he was 13 or 14 weeks old to get him housebroken.  But that’s another story for another time.  I rarely used the crate after that.  I almost never left him, and he slept with me much of those early months, so there was no need for the crate.  Well before he outgrew it I folded it up and put it in the garage.  It’s lived there ever since.