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How To Be Independent: According To My Puppy

September 22, 2015

 

Sunday was Louie’s adoption anniversary – one year to the day since we brought him home. It made me think about the afternoon we picked him out of the litter of six puppies born to a sweet poodle-schnauzer-something mix left on the highway three days before she gave birth. She had five white dogs and one dog the color of that dessert people on the East Coast make around Easter time that’s meant to look like dirt in a pot. I think it’s called dirt.

But that’s not why we picked Louie, who was then named Gouda, which would have been the second good-enough reason to pick him (except that all the dogs in the litter were named for cheeses and Mozzarella was a pretty competitive option).

Louie-then-Gouda had a curious way of interacting with his siblings inside the custom cardboard play pen that they called home. He would tear it up like the best of them – them being the Bash Brothers, Cheddar-now-Dudley and Stilton-now-still-Stilton.

Louie playing with his brother Dudley.

 

But when he decided he was done he would simply trot off to a quiet corner to entertain himself with the edge of a fleece blanket and/or sleep. If the boys or one of the three girls tried to prod him back into the Fight Club ring he would offer a confused look, pant a little, and go right back to his own business as if to say, “I’ve had enough, thanks, but by all means carry on, fools.” It was so weird.

“Looks like he needs his alone time,” I said to R during our visit.

“Just like you,” he said.

And that made the decision. That and the dirt fur and the Gouda name and this video of him being afraid of ice cubes that melted my previously cold, dog-anxious heart (pun unavoidable).

But this habit of ghosting with grace did not wane as Louie progressed through puppyhood. When he was done wrestling with his favorite husky puppy at the park, he’d retreat under a bench. When he had enough of walking alongside Homie, the sweet dauchsund mutt from across the street, he’d lay down and wait for Homie to walk off. When he felt he’d given us enough pre-bed cuddle time, he’d jump off and retire to his own bed down below. If the huskey implored Lou would turn his head. If Homie encouraged Lou would stick a snout between his paws. When we – to this day – beg for him to come back up to hang out he pretends like he can’t hear us. We literally have to fake an injury to get his attention (which is a whole other post). You people will be in the same place at the same time every night of my life, he tells us with a huff – literally. The dog man knows when he’s done.

True independence is about truly putting your needs first, as respectfully as possible but no matter the cost. Does Louie piss off a pup or two from time to time? Yes, and he does the same to humans. Last night I said, “I walked your ass around this neighborhood four times today, and this is the thanks I get!?”

But Louie knows what Louie needs, and he’s known since day one. What he needs is to take a knee when he’s had enough. That’s a lead we could stand to follow.

Happy Adoption Day Louie! And thank you to Carley, Chelsea, Roz, Dogs Without Borders and Lori’s Dog Training for making it all possible.

For More Like This Check Out

How To Recover From Being Lonely: According To My Puppy

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