Observations on The BentleyBeast ……  2/23/04

One piece of advice I would give to every parent, is: never compare your children to each other! I should only take that as well as I give it. In the middle of the last frigid winter we welcomed a new bundle of puppy fluff (along with little razor teeth and lots of puppy piddle) into our lives. This is another Golden Retriever, but apparently that's where the similarity ends between this little guy, Bentley, and his predecessor, Jasper. Trouble is, we really don't remember much of Jasper's puppy hood in intimate detail; or, we have amnesia, like most parents do after the first one. And make no mistake about it: having a new puppy is not like having a dog, it's like having a new baby, but one with immediate mobility, claws and teeth.

This guy is full of piss and vinegar. Actually the last several days most of the former has been deposited in the yard, but he is just full of mischief! And, yesterday, at the tender age of nine weeks, he really topped himself! He escaped. Not from the kitchen, but from our yard! We have a little less than half an acre surrounded by a 6 ft. stockade fence. He has been going over to the kitchen door, crying to go out. Most of the time he deposits a squirt, but it has become a big game for him. He has discovered he can make these big people stop what they're doing and marvel, "Oh, look, he's telling us he wants to go out!" And, then when he performs, they jump up and down and fawn over him with praise and adulation! So, it seems he wants to go out about every 10 minutes or so. With the temps being the bone chilling levels they are, we have taken to letting him out alone, as he mostly stays on our side patio, and we can see him from the kitchen window. If he goes out of sight, I'll don my coat and scarf and follow him. He has been really good about coming when he's called.

Last night, I was in the middle of making chicken soup, at about 4:30, and he wanted to go out, so I let him out. In the time it took me to slice half an onion, I looked outside and didn't see him. So I went out looking for him. Nothing. I went out into the back, including the area we call The Lower Forty, which is sloped down and wooded but is still enclosed by our fencing. Still no pup. I looked under the deck, crawling on my hands and knees, in case he had crawled inside and couldn't get out. Nothing. Then I noticed a slight dip under the fence in the back, so I went over to the neighbor's yard. He let me in to search his backyard. Still no sign. Now I'm starting to panic. Both kids were gone, and Ken was in the city. I kept thinking nightfall was near, and he'd likely freeze to death (it was about 5 degrees outside) if he was out for long. I took the car out and cruised around the block. Still no sign. I came back home, wondering what in hell I was going to do.

Finally, I went out into the front, into the street, and starting calling his name loudly. A neighbor, two houses down, came out and asked, "Are you missing a puppy?"

He had spotted him underneath my next door neighbor's car. They took him inside and were playing with him. They said they would wait and look around in the neighborhood to see if anyone was missing him. They didn't know about Jasper's demise, so I had to explain that to them, and they didn't know we had a new puppy. I was eternally grateful that he was OK, and also wanted to throttle him! Our side gate, near the kitchen, had blown open and frozen in a partly opened position. There was only a few inches clearance. I couldn't believe he could squeeze through it! But, somehow he did. So while I was scouring the backyard for him, he was on the front lawn, wandering over to my neighbor's.

I could never picture Jasper doing something like this. Any time now, feel free to smack me and say, "Well, this ain't Jasper!" On one hand I have to admire his ingenuity and determination. But, if not for the foresight of my neighbor, he wouldn't be here. Whew! I couldn't thank them enough! So I melted the ice beneath the gate and it slammed shut. I also put a few things in front of it. Actually, that was just an omen of what was to come.



Yesterday, I came home from school, and before I could take off my coat and put down my bags, my daughter commandeered me to taxi her and her friends back to her school (20 minutes east) to watch a volleyball game. So, sucker mom that I am, (and also the only idiot who's home at 4:30, since everyone else has a full time job), I caved.

After I came home, I went up to my bedroom to change my clothes. I took the pup, since on the days I teach, he spends a lot of time in his crate, and, since he had just been outside and squirted on command, I figured I was safe for a little while. I started to undress, with my door closed, as Jeff had a room full of his friends with him, when I saw my darling pup starting to *squat* on my carpet! I immediately scooped him up, and knew I had to whisk him outside pronto, or all would be lost. Trouble was, I was missing my pants. I couldn't very well run through the house like that with a room full of 16 yr. old boys here. So, I had to get dressed with one hand, with the other one securely holding the near 18 lb. BentleyBeast, not daring to let go, or surely he would! Believe it or not, I managed to zip up, and get his royal puppy butt outside in time for the *event*. And, while this was transpiring, I was on the phone with Ken, who always calls just to see what I'm doing...

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