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Paw prints

When was the last time you hopped, skipped and threw yourself at dry leaves skittering down the street? Or jumped up, trying to grab giant white snow flakes as they fell from the sky? Or ran around your new back yard as if it were a race track, and you led the pack? Joyous thanks in its purest forms.

Now that December is here and Thanksgiving is behind us, we can be grateful, instead of going around the table talking about being grateful. We can do that as we take breaks from digging out from this glorious snow storm.

My gratitude list includes a new fluffy kindergartner in my home. Maxx is 10 months old, and hails from Tucson. A young couple with a (human) toddler were unable to spend enough time with their puppy, who is, well, robust. He’s so full of energy that I can hardly imagine him living with a tiny girl. I heard about the situation, and here he is, “re-homed” in the northland.

My best pooch ever was Maudy, who went to doggy heaven nearly two years ago at age 91 (or 13). She was slow, old and confused. Toward the end, I would get up at night to help her find the back door so she could go out.

Now I’m up at night again, but there is no more slow or old. Maybe confused (on my part), as I remember what it takes to train a puppy.

Friends have given her stuffed animals, including a bunny (ears now gone) and an elephant (ears now gone), and squeaky tennis balls (ears not included) and treats. Maxx appreciates every one, especially whichever is the most recent, offering new smells, tastes and squeaks.

My stepdaughter’s 15-month-old son is also named Max, with one X. He lives in the Northwest with his parents, and while he sometimes tires them out as babies do, she reports that her Max does not jump up and nip her. We humans, even young ones, are so civilized.

With a baby or puppy, there are so many “firsts.” Maxx with two X’s jumped to the ceiling the first time I ground coffee, and growled heartily at the ice machine clicking in the freezer. The first bark was at my neighbor picking up his newspaper. Good boy, Maxx. Keeping the neighborhood safe!

Last week, we took a 3-mile run on-leash (“No pulling, Maxx!”). When we got home, I fed my buddy and sat down to read. Not happening. He came over to my chair and stared at me.

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“Hey, girl, what’s wrong? We’re just getting the day started! Up! Come! Go!”

A friend reminds me that dogs do not come with a bill of rights. I agree. And so I do not always give in to that soft, sweet face. I don’t. Really. Still, he’s right now beaming his thoughts into my head, concocting his own training plan.

Such as:

“If I can get her to chase me, I won’t have to come when she calls.”

“If I can pull this dang leash hard enough, Madam Stubborn will go where I want to go.”

“If I can hide behind the bathroom door, I can teach her not to put me into that giant puddle of water. She must learn that mud and grit are good things, never to be removed.”

“If I can grab this string/zipper/belt/leash/harness/place mat/kindling/rug-fringe/mitten/sock from everywhere around the house, I can train her to leave them at a level closer to my face. As a reward, I won’t jump up on the table/counter/couch/bed/window-seat, except when there is that flat cylinder holding good-smelling yummies on the table/counter/lap. She will finally learn that, in the long run, this so much easier for her.”

“Sit, observe and be thankful, Mary. Good girl.”

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