Today, at 1:53 pm, I’ll pick up our 9 week old Schnoodle puppy from the airport. No matter how cute she looks, I won’t pick her up and pet her right away. I won’t prance or clap or even say her name (Nilla). With a calm and assertive demeanor, I will put a leash around Nilla’s neck and take her for a brief walk around the nearest available grassy curb. You see, I am her pack leader. And today we begin Raising the Perfect Dog.
When my daughter Livi was 6, she started pleading for a puppy. At first, Amy and I just said no. But this little girl really wanted a puppy and she never stopped asking. She was never rude or whiny, though persistence from a 7-year-old can feel a lot like whining. By the time she was 9, Amy and I began to cave when we walked into Livi’s room and saw a beautiful hand-drawn poster above her bed that said, “I Love Sherman.” Sherman is the next-door-neighbor’s sweet but strangely dysfunctional Yorkie.
Without telling Livi, we looked into the non-shedding breeds and began contemplating dog-ownership. Amy started to get excited about having a furry buddy when I’m out of town, and we got cable… mostly so Amy could watch Alabama football games, but also so we could DVR The Dog Whisperer with Caesar Millan. If you’re already a fan, then you understand. If you haven’t seen Caesar in action, it’s hard to explain. The guy has almost single-handedly revolutionized the way pro-active dog owners behave in this country, and it’s because his show is only sometimes about making dogs behave. It is also about healing and empowering people, celebrating and partnering with God’s creation, and learning how to lead with wisdom. (Be the pack leader!)
For Christmas 2011, we told the kids we’re getting a puppy. We wrapped up Ceasar Millan’s book How to Raise the Perfect Dog, and inserted pictures of the puppy we were getting (that one didn’t work out in the end, but this Schnoodle is gonna be great). You’ll see in the video, Livi is unwrapping the book, and she doesn’t really get what is happening until… she does. It’s the first time I can remember any of my kids crying tears of joy.
I’ll keep you posted on how little Nilla progresses. Stay tuned!