Special to The Sun
It’s autumn. The sap is falling and so is my energy level. Last Saturday I managed to complete less than half the entries on my To Do list before I collapsed on the sofa with Su-the-weenie dog. A little down time is acceptable, but I remained there until dusk, mesmerized by Animal Planet’s back-to-back airings of litter after litter of newborn pups learning to adjust to life beyond the womb.
The first hour of “Too Cute” was a comforting reprieve from the irritating rasp of wrangling political spokespersons verbally abusing each other on public TV, but then it became something more. Three different breed litters star in each “Too Cute” episode. Half-way through the second one, I began to see a commonality between people and dogs in the ways we learn to relate with our own kind. I’ll leave it to you to make the connection.
The physical and behavioral development of each litter is filmed from before the pups have their eyes open until some are adopted while they’re still cute and others reach adulthood. Grandly entertaining. I personally never met a dog I didn’t like as much as he’d let me; and Su, the classic Beta, was pleased to see that the runt of the litter sometimes ends up leading the pack. (Know anyone like that?)
Other observations suggest that, though it’s unwise for the pups to stray from the birthing bed until their eyes are open, there’s a good chance the first pup to stray will be the Alpha of the bunch. Don’t adopt that one unless you’re up to high maintenance: i.e., unless you’re willing to walk her twice a day or the big yard out back can contain her when you’re not.
Beginnings are important and so is the breed. Not that one breed is superior to another, but do check your want list twice. A 200-pound Mastiff bears certain DNA tendencies that differ from a 10-pound Chihuahua’s DNA. The Mastiff will never become a successful lap dog and the Chihuahua will never protect the grounds. A Dachshund will do both, but only when she wants to. (Know anyone like that?)
Temperament is important. Not even the best dog in a pedigreed litter will win the blue ribbon if he has a bad attitude; and the timid pup in any litter must be taught to quit digging if she finds herself in a hole too deep to climb out of.
Early on, it’s obvious which pup of the litter is full of himself and which is a loner and likely to stay that way. Which is which has everything to do with who’s at the dinner buckets most persistently and longest, and nothing to do with gender. (Again, a lot like us humans.)
MARJORIE ANDERSON is an Edmond resident.