What’s on my Mind

Frieda’s follies

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Our puppy’s antics—that’s what’s on my mind

A while back I promised not to focus my columns on our new puppy, Frieda, and I’ve held steadfast to that. However, it’s time to check-in so you can be privy to what she’s been up to.

Frieda, our miniature (but not quite so miniature) schnauzer, is now about 9 months old. She is long-legged, and weighs in at more than 17 pounds—quite a difference from our last schnauzer, Tilly, in many ways.

Tilly was more petite and had a sullen attitude (putting it nicely). She had characteristics that only a devoted furry-child mom and dad could endure. She didn’t like to be held, had a mind of her own, and ruled the roost over our younger Labrador, Lulu.

The first few months after we got Frieda, I would bring her to work with me and she was happy to sleep in her comfy bed, under my desk, by my feet. That was then, this is now. I’m not sure how it works in dog years, but I think she might be in her terrible-two stage.

The day Frieda welcomed us home to puppy pandemonium: a living room full of fuzz. Photo by Kirsten Reichel.

The day Frieda welcomed us home to puppy pandemonium: a living room full of fuzz. Photo by Kirsten Reichel.

Once she was potty trained and we felt comfortable, we would leave her at home alone with doors in the house shut. She had the reign of our living room and kitchen areas. We took baby steps with how long we would leave her alone, and all seemed fine. A little accident (aka poop on the floor) from time to time, but for the most part, she did well in our absence.

We kept extending the time away to see how she would do on her own—accompanied with a basketful of toys and full bowls of food and water. I think seven hours was about the longest we left her alone as Fred and I went about our workday. All was well when we returned home. She met us at the door with squeals of delight, bouncing around, and acting as though we were the best thing that had ever happened to her in that moment.

She greets everyone that way when they come to visit. Tilly was rather crabby; picky as to who she liked, and was not a snuggler. On the flip side, Frieda loves everyone and loves to snuggle. I can’t sit down without her jumping on my lap. Not complaining—love the company.

She also feels it necessary to sleep between me and Fred, positioning herself between our pillows to make sure she can be as close as possible to both of us. When she decides to really tuck in up next to me, I feel as though I have a portable sauna on site. I’m too much of a softy to give her the boot, but I have had to rearrange her sleeping spot from time to time to get comfortable. The things we do for our beloved pets!

So, feeling as though it was okay to leave her home alone, we got into that groove and all seemed well, until just recently.

One day I had to run to Cook to pick up groceries and do some errands; I was gone for just a bit over an hour. When I walked in the door, Frieda met me as she always does—jumping for joy, squealing with happiness. That attitude changed as soon as I walked into the living room.

We’ve had some spring snowstorms lately, but I certainly don’t expect to see them in the house. Well, that was the case when I walked in. Frieda had taken a couple of throw pillows off our couch and, I don’t know how she did it, figured out how to unzip the outer covering, then remove every stitch of stuffing from the pillows. There were “snowdrifts” all over our living room!

“Frieda, what did you do?” I asked. Immediately she cringed and laid herself close to the floor. She knew. Now, I’m not a spanker. Never was with my kids—maybe a tap or two on a couple of occasions—but Frieda got a couple of somewhat gentle taps on her behind to let her know that disemboweling pillows was naughty.

She’s a very timid dog and can just sense, as I’m sure most pets can, when she’s done something wrong. At first, I thought she had ripped into the pillows, but as I started picking up the fuzzy snowballs in our living room, I realized she had opened the pillows by the zipper and hadn’t chewed anything up. Not that it excuses her from her actions, but I was actually quite impressed by her finesse in being able to figure out the zippers. No, she did not receive praise for that.

How she could go from being left home alone for seven hours and behave to being left home for one hour and get into mischief is beyond me. Thus, my theory of the terrible twos.

We stuck at home for the next few days, just because we didn’t have anything going on. Then, one evening we had a dinner date and knew we had to leave her home alone. It was with some trepidation we left the house. However, we did put the zipper pillows away to guard her against the temptation.

Four hours later we returned home from our dinner outing and, lo and behold, everything was just fine. Frieda met us at the door with her usual warm greeting and, with the exception of a couple of throw pillows (not torn into) on the floor, all was well.

Who knows what goes on in the mind of our pets when we’re not around to be with them? Sometimes I think it would be fun to have a house camera to see what she does after we leave. We can certainly see the aftereffects when she misbehaves, but what else goes on when we’re not here to chaperone?

As I write this, Frieda is wrapped around Fred’s neck as he takes a Sunday afternoon snooze on the couch. I think we have become much more lenient with our pets as we get older. Although, the eight furry kids we have shared together through almost 30 years of marriage have been pretty darn spoiled.

We are now considering getting another Labrador to join the family. While I dread the puppy stage of a Lab—chew, chew, chew— they are just so darned cute and we’ve been without one for over a year now since we said goodbye to Lulu.

I can only imagine the things that Frieda could teach our new pup…. With past experience of having two dogs at the same time, I’m sure Frieda will always be the boss, but I hope she will be able to teach good behavior and not how to work the zipper on a throw pillow.

Kirsten Reichel lives in Cook. She is a Hometown Focus staff writer and columnist and can be contacted at Her column typically runs every other week.

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