April 29, 2022

Few things match the pride felt by a parent when they provide the toy your child has begged for over the last year as a present.  These are usually expensive and just beyond the amount budgeted for either a birthday or Christmas.  Still, since there have been incessantly requests for this toy, your empathy breaks you down and you figure a way to make the buy.  The big day comes, and the box is opened with squeals of delight.  Your child begins to play, and after watching for several minutes, you go to the next room with a sense of smug satisfaction.  When you return to check on them you find they have abandoned the treasured toy, and are playing with the box it came in.  That is what happened today with the puppies and a stick.

When I looked online, I found like human babies, puppies explore the world by putting things in their mouth (Zena).  Unlike babies, puppies keep on chewing and seem to go through a super chewing stage as they approach one year old (Eddie).  The other difference is puppies are very effective at chewing.  There are many products offered to divert your puppy’s attention from the furniture, leather, and shoes they seem to prefer.  Real bones should be avoided as they can fracture teeth and the fragments can damage the mouth, stomach, and intestines.  Three chew alternatives were suggested.  Interactive toys can be filled with soft cheese, dog treats or peanut butter (if you freeze them, they last longer).  Some chews can be soaked in water and frozen, which provides relief for teething puppies.  Chew bones are designed to promote dental wellness.  We have purchased several types of chews for Zena, some of which were expensive, and found like a child with a box, Zena’s favorite chew is a stick.

I have been sitting on the back patio to watch the puppies play during Melissa’s morning work call, and this morning watched the dynamic of their relationship.  While both puppies have chew toys, they tend to ignore them.  When they are outside, they find a stick which seems to suffice.  Since this is raw wood and not mulch, I have given up and just watch them chew.  This morning Eddie found a small stick they have both been chewing and began to gnaw.  Zena then decided to investigate.  When she could not wrestle the stick from Eddie, Zena went and got a bigger stick and sat close to Eddie to gnaw.  That caused Eddie to get up and try to take the big stick away.  They ran back and forth along the patio as first one and then the other carried the stick.  Finally, they both dropped the big stick and began a tug of war with the small stick.  This tussle went on for 15 minutes until they both happily sat down with a different stick to chew.

THOUGHTS:  While Zena and Eddie were playing with the stick, they inched close to tension several times.  Zena uses her size and weight to back into Eddie and push him around.  Eddie uses his knowledge and speed to either get away or around Zena’s push.  Like humans, Eddie’s willingness to be pushed is shorter than Zena’s desire to play.  What might begin as play can become irritating when the constant teasing does not stop and can become bullying.  Statistics for 2020 indicate 49% of children in grades 4-12 have been bullied at school at least once, 23% of college students have been bullied two or more times in the past month, and 20% of US students grades 9-12 reported being bullied.  It is no longer fun when someone say stop.  Act for all.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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