Backyard Brief: Ethan’s Playground

New dog, new world

 

Letter to Elyse

Dearly Departed Madam Puppy Dog,

Well, we did it. We got a puppy. We brought home your successor, and he’s recalling your spirit. He has also borrowed your collar, your leash, your crate, which you hated but he loves, and many other doggy things we kept for whenever this day would come.

Daddy said we had lots of Nature’s Miracle stain remover left, but he was remembering all the bulk stock we had while we still had you, messy lady. We later donated the rest. We still have the odor remover, but who wants to remove new puppy smell, really?

And your toys. All, except the ones we buried with you and the few we donated, are now his.

We think more about you, talk more about you again, now that a canine cousin has arrived. Comparisons are inevitable as inter-species learning returns and evolves. Every day is a new adventure with the resonance of all those new days with you, our first dog, when we didn’t really know what we were doing except in theory. You then blew all our theories out of the water. I suspect Ethan will throw us some curve balls, too.

Did I not mention, he has a similarly human-sounding name that starts with an “E.” Like yours did you, his seems to suit him. There’s some kind of enhanced dignity in it. And yet, it’s almost more fitting as a puppy’s name than yours would have been, since we got you as an adult. The name “Ethan” sounds fundamentally boyish and playful to my ear, reminiscent of other names with an “en” ending sound, like “Munchkin,” “Pumpkin,” “Button,” “and so on. Not to say your name was bad; we loved it and you all the same. It was just so very serious, my darling, as was most of your life with us.

I hope you have found rest and freedom from the pain you suffered for too long, even in our care over the course of three years. Beyond that, I have transferred all my hopes to Ethan now. I hope you don’t mind. He needs us as you did. He is shy, impressionable, and skittish, abandoned like you were but less dominant and nervous, perhaps. Whereas you were co-alpha in your foster family pack, Ethan was definitely a follower among his foster pack members, not quite fully so with us yet.

At the moment, he seems to prefer neighborhood dogs, kids, and passing cars to his would-be human parents. But in this, he’s helping us to come out of our shell as much as we are helping to socialize him. After so carefully protecting your heart from the risk of injury and illness from other dogs, it is good to look forward to letting our dog be a dog.

Ethan is our first puppy, so all the puppy behaviors will take some getting used to for us. With his ongoing adjustment and shyness, we still have to get to know his true personality, too. But he’s still a dog. He sleeps and eats and pees and poops and looks and listens and walks and barks like a dog, just like you did.

In a way, we’re falling in love with you all over again, with all dogs, by bringing just one into our home that’s been too quiet since you had to leave us. He sees, smells, and treads the ground with that eager puppy step, clomping heavily on the kitchen floor in feet he must grow into. The sights, sounds, smells, and textures of another beautiful dog refresh our lives and reaffirm the rightness of our time with you.

So, anyway, wish us luck with this Ethan character. Despite his calmness at times for a puppy, I’m sure he’ll become a handful in his own way soon. You were in yours.

After a year and a half without you, we are finally ready again to take the good with the bad, to learn and to love. I’m hopeful our capacity for these things will only grow the longer we have this dog. And we’ll be sure to teach him discipline, as I’m sure you would if you were here.

Your bones remain beneath the ground by the service berry tree we planted to commemorate you. Both serve to remind us of what we have learned, loved, lost, and gained anew. Your white and brown hair and scent still live in the corners of our house, and, after only three days, Red Ethan is already just fine with all your hand-me-downs.

Farewell, and hugs and kisses, my sweet Elyse. We will always miss you and love you.

We are . . . Yours Truly Forever.

Our New Puppy Ethan

Five-Phrase Friday (3): Pet Epithetic

This week, I celebrate–and smear on–the silly, affectionate, alliterative, and gross. Glory to the English(?) language and loved ones as we launch into Labor Day weekend. Happy Holiday!

Five Phrases of Furry Friend Fondness and Folly

My husband and I exclaim oodles of enthusiastic and incredulous utterances at and about Elyse–our eleven-or-so-year-old, energy-extracting American Brittany dog, or “fur baby.” Enjoy these examples.

1) “Hi, Booger! How’s my baby girl?” (mine) – Why Booger, you ask? . . .

2) “Goopies and crusties!” – Doggy eye drainage, a.k.a. eye boogers, when I wipe her face like a toddler’s. Gee, kinda sounds like Gurgi’s “Munchies and crunchies!” (ew) from the animated Disney film The Black Cauldron:

GurgiBlackCauldronVideoplayback

Gurgi in a clip from The Black Cauldron (video from YouTube)

3) “Sweet Madam Puppy Dog,” “Noodle,” “Curly Puppy,” or “Madam Noodlington” (all his) – When she’s curled up in a ball on her bed or the floor

4) “Pee time, Bubba Dog / Puppa / Buppa!” (ours). There are endless variations, are there not?

5) “Flap, flap, flap!” (ours) – The sound her floppy ears make when she shakes without wearing a collar

Want more?

Go to Dog Blog: Don’t. Move. for photos and descriptive phrases of Elyse’s sleeping poses.

See Blogging 101: Dream Reader, The Irony in My Life for a story she inspired.

Or, go here or here or here for simple photos of her with captions.

What do you call your pets?

(We tend to reserve “Elyse” for when she’s in trouble, so I guess it’s now her middle name.)

BelgianTervurenPuppyLIkeABear

Bear cub, er, Belgian Tervuren puppy

Bonus about other dogs.

Correcting my husband in childish tones as we looked at a picture of a very fluffy and adorable Belgian Tervuren Shepherd puppy on a calendar page (neither of these images):

“It’s not a bear; it’s a baby dog!”

BelgianTervuren4puppies

A pack of Belgian Tervuren puppies

Excusable error… They even look kind of like Ewoks, don’t you think?