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Writing with a puppy in the house

Posted in A Writer's Desk

Image of taigan puppy in snow
The bold Hussar (6 months)

We have no children, but I have immense respect for the authors I know who manage to write while babies and toddlers are under their care. I don't know how they do it.

All of my pets are older than my writing career, but last September we got a puppy to keep our other dog company, after the death of an older dog. My writing has come to an almost complete stop since.

We have friends with exotic Asian sighthounds, and when litters happen, they think of us. Our older dog, Uhlan, is a tazi, one of many names for the country-of-origin dogs that run from North Africa to western China from whom the Saluki is derived. His parents are from Kazakhstan. So when an opportunity arose for us to take in a taigan, a country-of-origin version of the Afghan hound from Kyrgyzstan, from the first litter bred in America, we signed right up and called him Hussar (as in “the bold Hussar” of the song — boy, we got that right).

We read up on how he could be expected to be about the size of the tazi, who is 70 pounds, and envisioned the two of them racing across the fields, one slender, and one more robust.

Image of two dogs
Hussar (3 months) and Uhlan

Heh. He kept growing. And growing. And GROWING.

At first, Uhlan kept him in line, as befit an 8-year old dog with a proper sense of his own worth and prerogatives. Lots of snarling and fangs, and desperate puppy dodges when the play bows proved to be insufficient excuse for outrageous behavior.

At this point, they more or less get along, except that Hussar is still a puppy, at 9 1/2 months, and terribly eager to get his older brother to play with him on any and every excuse. They pursue chipmunks in the log pile with equal zeal.

And he weighs 90 pounds, with no end in sight. That's about double the size you see him at in most of these pictures.

He's the jolliest, sweetest (and shaggiest) dog imaginable, but he can't be left unsupervised for a minute without converting everything he can reach into confetti. It's not just the torn paper and the trashed clothing and the gnawed furniture — we expected all of that. But when he's bored, he contemplatively plucks CDs from the bookcase to chew on them, and he is not above pursuing books — rare books, expensive books. Books which are out of sight from where I sit in my little office trying to write with interruptions every few minutes to avert disasters or discipline criminals. Timeouts in his kennel afford only brief respite.

Image of two dogs
The days of “toss the puppy” are long past

The latest crime today was the discovery that not only had he gnawed the corner off the plastic box holding my sewing/mending-to-be-done, but he had also seized and destroyed the fully-loaded pincushion therein. Sawdust, pins, and needles everywhere — happily none of them down his throat.

When Uhlan was young, we were spared most of this, so we weren't prepared for puppy mayhem on quite this scale. I await his one year birthday in late July in the hopes that he will reach his maximum height (if not weight) and settle down into slightly less destructive activity.

Wishful thinking, I fear.

On the other hand, he'd make a great model for a jolly dragon wreaking inadvertent havoc…

Hussar – 10 months

UPDATE – Hussar at 10 months.


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  1. I hope the upside is that the protection from outside intruders is worth it. 90 lbs.!

    I just rehomed my chinchilla – a friend always wanted one and was prepared for the 10-15 more years Gizzy might live – so we can move into a retirement community as my body desperately needs, and Gizzy was a handful who liked to chew the legs of our couches – at 1.5 lbs.

    You have taken on a huge task – is there a dog training in the future which will give you some peace with your ‘puppy’ the size of a Shetland pony?

    And I can imagine not being able to write that way, too. I need absolute peace and quiet and no distractions.

    May 18, 2018
    • What I wonder is how they deal with this in the family yurt, when they let them inside.

      May 18, 2018

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