A Puppy Finds Her Voice

Watching Scout run is like witnessing pure joy incarnate. Her ears, triangles of velvety red fur, bounce in the wind, as if she’s about to take off into flight. She loves a particular hill near where we live. It’s surrounded by tall magnolia trees, and now that fall is here, the leaves are blanketing the ground. One of Scout’s favorite activities is to try to collect the leaves–as many as she can in her mouth at once–and carry them up the hill, where she promptly tears them to shreds.

A job well done.

At almost 11 weeks, she has made a few friends with neighborhood dogs. We have chosen not to keep Scout inside for these early weeks. Socialization is so important, but must be done carefully to avoid the diseases she is susceptible to right now. We always ask the owners of new dogs approaching us whether their dog is up to date on its shots before we allow Scout and the dog to meet. (We have also arranged play dates with friends’ dogs, and we limit Scout’s area outside to clean grass.) In this way, we’ve been able to socialize her safely.

She is good friends with a dog who lives not far away. They lie in the grass together and rub noses. It is adorable to watch. Today she had an impromptu play date with this dog, Martin, and another, Sadie. They played for close to an hour, with Martin and Sadie showing Scout how to dig up the grass properly (something Scout was already fond of).

Close to the end, I could see that Scout was tiring, but in true puppy spirit she would not relent. Bounding between the group of humans and dogs, she let out a tentative rrruufff!! We all froze. “What was that, little girl?” I asked her, half expecting her to answer. She smiled back, still ready to play.

With each week, Scout finds her voice. The whining she has done since day one has given way to play-growling, huffing, yawning (a very distinctive sound I hope to one day record. She sounds like a Star Wars wookie), burping, and now, a playful little bark, if you can call it that. I didn’t know what to think when I heard it. Barking is what adult dogs do, not my little puppy.

After four weeks, I am completely attached to her. I can now understand what people meant when they told me, “Enjoy the puppy year. They grow up so fast.” In the beginning, I couldn’t wait for Scout to grow up. It meant we’d survived this stage, and had a (hopefully) well-trained dog on our hands. But in the last week I have grown to love Scout The Puppy.

As I write, she is asleep in her play pen on her favorite blanket, a velvet ear draped over her eyes, perfectly content after a morning of play.


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