Koda and Summer barked and danced inside their crates as I walked my mother-in-law into our house. I warned her to hold onto the counter to steady herself in case the dogs jumped up on her. “Ready?” I asked as I unlatched the doors and both pups bounded across the kitchen to meet her. Summer wiggled and go so excited she peed on the wood floor. Koda jumped up but did not bark like he usually does with strangers. I whisked them outside to potty. They were thrilled to have a visitor, especially one that was family from far away.
Earlier in the day I had cleaned the house as much as possible with two wet-chinned dirty-pawed puppies. A vase with fresh flowers sat in the center of the round table. The refrigerator was stocked with vegetables, dip, a cheese tray and a variety of meats. I was all set for the visit from my mother in law, Gramma Bear. She has not been out here in a long time, and has never met the puppies. She’s seen the pictures and read about them on my blog. On the way home from the airport I warned her that they were no longer small puppies, that they were not even small dogs, they were in fact, large long legged dogs (yet both had the maturity of five month old puppies).
I really wanted to her to see them as well trained. Just like when I took my children to visit their grandparents, it was important to me that they be on their best behavior. I would turn around in the front seat of our suburban and look right in their little pairs of eyes and say, “Ok, everyone remember your manners, please and thank you. Behave when you are in Gramma’s house. No running. No hands on her fragile things.” I had a similar talk with the puppies before leaving for the airport to get Gramma. “Koda, Summer, I want you to behave. No jumping on Gramma Bear when she comes into the house. You are both going to listen to me and obey my commands. Just like at puppy school.”
After the initial excitement of greeting our special visitor wore off, the puppies settled down and laid on the floor. We talked in the kitchen and then went to sit on the sofa. That’s then the puppies forgot all about our talk. They hopped up high on the sofa pillows as usual, and were face to face with Gramma, their wet whiskers brushing up to her cheeks. I jumped over trying to get them back down, but it was a futile effort. My leniency in discipling the puppies was exposed. I had a flashback to the times this same scenario played out when my children were young. “Are you allowed to be doing that?” Gramma would ask my son as he jumped on the ottoman like a trampoline. Or “Aren’t you going to make her finish everything on her plate?” I may have been a little sensitive about my mothering so comments like those were hard to hear. In front of grandparents especially, I wanted to show my kids on their best behavior.
What I learned over time is that if you stick around long enough, reality sets in. Kids and puppies push the boundaries, forget their manners, and jump on sofas or throw food off of their high chairs. It happens in my house and probably happened decades ago in these grandparents’ houses. Even so, I just wanted Koda and Summer to show how smart and sweet they are. They did. Gramma Bear showered them with praise about how adorable they are. Then she added that they are both full of a little “piss and vinegar” (which means “boistrous, youthful energy” in Gramma-speak).