Puppy love—that’s what’s on my mind.
In the Aug. 21 edition of HTF, my column was about the arrival of our new puppy, Frieda. Well, this column will also be about Frieda, but I promise not to make this a habit. Much like grandparents showing a gazillion pictures of their grandchildren, it can get a bit old after awhile and friends and co-workers may turn and run the other way if they see you coming at them with a cell phone. I just have a few observations to share with the experiences we’ve had since Frieda has been in our home the past few weeks and then I’ll let that topic sit (until her next remarkable, incredibly cute, unprecedented action requires sharing).
Once again, I’m taking advantage of her nap time to write this column, although she is really good about taking quiet time and napping by my feet when I’m working. She has also been very cooperative the two times she’s been at the HTF office with me—content to sleep in her bed under my desk as I get my assignments done for the day.
People have asked me how we chose her name. I saw a movie several years ago about the artist Frida Kahlo who was married to fellow artist Diego Rivera. The story of Frida Kahlo’s life intrigued me and I liked the name so it stuck with me. When it came time to name our puppy, I decided on Frida, but changed the spelling. Since she is a miniature schnauzer, the German version of the name seemed more appropriate. After some quick Googling, my son, Karl, informed me that the meaning of Frieda in German is “peaceful ruler.” The name seemed very appropriate.
While we have had many pets over the years, having a new puppy is a reminder of some things we take for granted. You forget about the early stage of puppy-hood. It’s not an easy task to just leave the house to run errands or spend time with friends and be gone for hours. It takes planning, coordination of who will be home with her, or who can take her along so she’s not home alone. As I said before, I’m a softy and don’t like the kennel option. We never used them with our other dogs—eventually they just knew their boundaries (the whole house) and matured enough to be content with staying home to nap and eat at will. What a life!
Having Frieda has made me aware of things that we don’t notice on a daily basis because we have become so accustomed to the grind of life. She is teaching me to look at life through the eyes of a child.
Every little noise is something new. Her ears perk up and she stares in the direction of the noise to figure out where it came from and what it is. Chipmunks, birds, splashing water, leaves rustling in the trees—everything is a new experience. I probably wouldn’t even notice these if it wasn’t for her reaction to the sounds of something she has yet to learn about.
She’s curious and likes to explore, but is quick to run with her ears pinned back and sit between my feet when something scares her. She doesn’t like the loud roar of a boat motor or the sound of power tools, but was very content on her first pontoon ride with us a couple of weekends ago. In fact, she slept on the bench, snuggled in one of my sweatshirts the whole time, probably wondering what the big deal of going on a boat ride was all about.
Playing outdoors brings a whole new realm of adventure. Fall is here and the leaves are starting to turn so we have some new toys in our yard: red and yellow leaves, pine cones, twigs, dried moss, and, unfortunately, chunks of charcoal from our fire pit.
The leaves are a treat to pounce on, especially when the wind kicks them up. Twigs, pine cones, and moss are fine to a point. Charcoal is not, so we keep an eye on her when she’s at the pit.
Actually, we keep a keen eye on her in general since we have a family of foxes who live in our area. The mom was around all winter, but we believe her kits are now learning about the neighborhood since we have spotted three of them together on occasion. Bald eagles fly over our place on a regular basis and a small puppy would be easy prey, so we keep close sight of her.
She is not a fan of rain, nor the black rain jacket I have to put on when letting her out while it’s raining. That’s something she’s just going to have to get used to. If she needs to do her business outside, rain is not an excuse to do so inside. I’m curious to see how she’ll deal with snow and cold temps once winter arrives. Dogs we had in the past had fast potty breaks outside in the winter when temps were well below zero—I suspect Frieda will be the same.
Miss Frieda is going to take a bit of work when it comes to the discipline department. Not that she’s naughty—she just sometimes chooses not to listen. She’s discovered that gnawing on shoes is fun (not to mention our toes—tiny puppy teeth really hurt!). She hates having on a collar and leash and will firmly plant herself in one spot and not move as I try to coax her along. The leash and collar wouldn’t matter so much since we’re out with her each time, but she has recently developed a habit of playing chase—as in, we chase her as she dives into the woods to play hide and seek. This is especially unsettling at night when we can’t find her with a flashlight. Hoping to help that situation, I bought a lit collar for her—we put it on and she promptly sat in one spot and wouldn’t move. Yes, she does have an attitude!
Every day is a new experience for both her and us. She makes us laugh; she makes us play; she snuggles up next to us in bed. Her soft fur and puppy breath are so calming and, fortunately, she is good about sleeping in, so we generally get a good night’s sleep.
From the look in her eyes as we hold her you can tell she loves and trusts us unconditionally. She runs to greet everyone who comes to our home as if they are the most honored person in the world. Frieda shows us the things we can learn from our beloved pets—trust, love, learning about new things, taking time to play as well as taking time to relax and sleep, and going through life one day at a time. She truly has become a peaceful ruler in our home.
Kirsten Reichel lives in Cook, MN. She is a Hometown Focus staff writer and columnist and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.