The only person I really have to blame is myself. Too soon, they were not ready. Instead of holding tightly to the rules set in place, I loosened the reins. The fifty plus pound puppies look older than their seven months of age. I may have confused their adult size bodies for mature dogs. Months ago I asked an experienced canine professional how long the “puppyhood” lasts in dogs. Her answer of “two years” surprised me, as I thought the rate of physical growth was in sync with behavioral growth. Wrong. My two aussiedoodles were small for maybe one week. The estimated adult weight of 50 pounds provided by the aussiedoodle breeder was reached at only six months, and Koda and Summer will not even be out of the puppy stage for another year and a half. At this rate they could grow to be much larger than we anticipated. Luckily, the vet reassured me that their physical changes slow down greatly, so we will not end up with two 200 pound aussiedoodles in the house.
It still messes with one’s mind to have adult size dogs with very puppy-like behavior. This week I expanded their privileges thinking they were ready. I started letting them follow me upstairs and roam around the second floor. At first, they ran room to room eagerly checking out the new turf. Aside from some food wrappers in my teenage son’s room, there was nothing to really sniff out. More than anything, they just wanted to follow me. It reminded me of the way Kitty and Dot used to do the same thing. They watched me fold laundry, waited for my while I got ready, and sat watching from atop the comfy perch of my bed. I even contemplated letting the fluffy sweethearts sleep up there with me when PapaBear was out of town. Kitty used to sleep on our bed. Dot always slept on our floor. It just felt right for Koda and Summer (even with their 50 plus pound long legged bodies). There was a little voice in my head that whispered, “but are they really ready?”
One evening they had followed into my room and were sprawled out on the white comforter. I went into the bathroom to take a shower. With Christmas music running through my head, I stepped out of the steamy glass enclosure to grab the towel, and like the needle on a record scratching across the vinyl my blissful moment came to a halt. What is that awful smell? Throwing on my robe I rushed to the door leading to the bedroom and saw the biggest “don’t even want to describe” accident. I looked over to the bed and both puppies just smiled at me. Nobody even cowered in the corner in shame. Then off to a different side of the room in front of our dresser, I noticed a large puddle in the carpet. I screamed, gagged, and quickly led the dogs down to their crates and then returned to clean up the mess.
As I was working to remove the stain and odor from the light beige carpet in our master bedroom, it hit me. These are puppies, not fully developed dogs that know better. They did not even show acknowledgement that they had done a bad thing. A well behaved older dog would at least have cowered a little. Not Koda or Summer. They had both watched round fluffy-faced from their innocent cozy spot on my bed, totally oblivious to their contribution to the excitement of Mama Bear shrieking in her robe and wet hair.
This was on me. I was so eager to experience that next stage with them, that I did not take into account that they were not there yet mentally. I am reminded of the multiple instances this happened with my children. I’d cave in and permit them to stay up later than bedtime only to suffer the resurgence of energy with overstimulated overtired kids bouncing off the walls when it was our adult time. Or there were the times when I overindulged them at an amusement park. Cotton candy, corn dogs, ice cream… and then one would vomit on the car-ride home. Not their fault. Mine.
It is up to the parents to set limits and enforce them. A little spoiling once in awhile can’t hurt too much, but sometimes there is a price to pay. For me, that is the check I had to write to the professional carpet cleaners that visited our house yesterday. At least it was just one room, enough of a reminder for me to keep working on their training, and only expand boundaries when they are ready. Just as my children grew older and learned to make good choices, follow rules, and not over-indulge…wait, who am I kidding? They are still learning those things! I guess their puppyhood lasts pretty long too.