Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Puppy lessons, part 1: a messy slate

“…with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” -Phil. 2:3

I wrote a month ago that we had to say goodbye to our sweet Kipp. She was a great dog but was so sick we had to have her put to sleep. It was sad. But I also wrote that we’d probably get another lab soon. We now have a 4-month-old yellow lab named Maisy. Not long after Kipp was gone, I found Maisy at a breeder north of Branson. We met them in Springfield, paid our fee and drove Maisy back to Branson. And so life begins with a new pup. Much like a new child to a parent, Maisy brings challenges to us at home.

She is an absolute mess. I, with my OCD and perfectionist tendencies, had our garage looking pretty clean and tidy. The backyard was well kept and orderly and my prized outdoor waterfall was pristine and attractive. Then came the whirlwind named Maisy! She likes things as messy as possible. The garage is her personal toilet and every spare scrap of wood is scattered around our backyard. The waterfall has become her bathtub and shower, all in one. But what I’ve discovered is that the mess is okay. The lack of order is more than balanced by the addition of Maisy.

The same is true with parenting. We marry and organize our world and life and have it all under control. Then, the wife finds out she’s expecting. We have nine months to prepare, but we don't and then BAM, our little one comes along and our world changes forever. There is no greater tool for God to use in our lives than our children and as our world blends with the world of our child, we learn over again that putting our child first really blesses us the most. Yep, our organized world is obliterated, but the change is a good one.

Maisy is a clean slate waiting to be taught. This is our fourth lab pup and I’m always impressed with how smart and teachable a pup is from the beginning. Now granted a non-registered stray may not have the brains to be trained, but they still deserve to be loved. But the full breeds are amazing. But there is a catch: they have to be taught. There is not a special dog food that teaches them how to sit and stay and where to tinkle and poop. It requires an owner that loves his dog and is willing to give time and patience.

Again, the same is true in parenting. The nature-nurture issue will always be debated, but no one argues that correct nurture is needed. Kids soak up what they are taught. They have a soul and crucial need to be loved and nurtured for them to thrive and grow. It’s not about whether they’ll be taught, but what they’ll be taught. No parents are perfect, but we all can provide the secure environment our kids need to have their best shot at growth.

So, if you’re ever in Branson, come by and say hi to Maisy. She’ll be glad to bite your shoes or chase a ball for you. Mostly, she’ll want to just play, play and play some more. She is mess and does require discipline and encouragement to grow, but she is a blessing. We’re enjoying the new addition to our family.

Even with the messy garage.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

1 comment:

Mary O. Paddock said...

Joey--Great entry--as always. Parenting is messy, but what a lovely mess it is. Congrats on the new puppy.

but . . .

"Now granted a non-registered stray may not have the brains to be trained, but they still deserve to be loved.But the full breeds are amazing."

It depends on the purebred and it depends on the non-registered stray. I have both (dogs are kind of my thing). The smartest dog I've ever owned was a former stray--a dachshund beagle mix. She passed away at sixteen years old a few years ago.