October 25, 2021


Kathleen Ryan, MD

Look how fluffy and cute my puppy is! How hard could this be? I'm retired and have lots of free time to devote to him. My sister's golden retriever had nine puppies and she begged me to take one. I caved in and brought Eli home at seven weeks old.

It quickly became obvious that puppies are intended for younger owners! His mouth and all those sharp, little teeth totally shredded my hands and arms. It took many nights before he relaxed in his crate at bedtime and stopped the crying and barking, keeping us up much of the night.

My husband and I live on 20 acres in the mountains of SW Montana and our home is frequently visited by a large elk herd making their fertile deposits all around the house. Elk scat is a puppy delicacy, and Eli is a canine vacuum. This bad habit has landed him at the local vet more than once with acute diarrhea, which got the two of us up every couple of hours and on a trip into the scary darkness of a very remote nighttime.

Like all puppies, Eli loves our socks and shoes, my dangling clothes, my prescription glasses, rugs, wood tables, all sticks, grass and scat; anything and everything goes into his mouth and swallowed down if I'm not watching constantly. Eli is obsessed with food — both puppy and human!

Fortunately, the 2V abdominal series (twice) only demonstrated gastric and colon gravel and treatment was basically time and probiotics.

Eli is now almost five months old and has grown into a little dog. His teeth are not so sharp although he still prefers my arm to any of his toys. I've learned a lot about patience and time management. I've given up my retired-person routines and allowed my days and nights to be directed by a little, white, fluffy puppy. I’ve experienced the joy and happiness of a puppy exploring his surroundings and wanting only to play and love.

I’ve almost caught up on my lost sleep and feel like my husband and older dog have almost forgiven me for this breach of their quiet, peaceful lives. Puppies are not for everyone. They are challenging and exhausting. But the upside is definitely worth it for me, and I look forward to hopefully a decade or more of companionship as I adjust to my new retirement life.