A New Crack at Motherhood

Last week was Mother’s Day. It was lovely. The grandkids spent hours in the pool.  Our daughter, Cindy, cooked the burgers on the barbecue grill.  The pool was a big worry when the kids were little, but now they’re at home in the water, and their parents have graduated out of the pool and can sit on the sidelines watching. But I was back in the watching and worrying stage because, three days earlier, we had taken a big step back into the world of parenthood.

I know there are people our age who take on the raising of grandchildren when broken sons and daughters are unable to care for their little ones. They step up and do what has to be done. All I can say is “Hats off!” to them. But our baby adventure is into a voluntary kind of parenthood—we have a new puppy. She’s a nine-week-old dappled, chocolate and caramel, piebald, long-haired miniature dachshund.  Whoa.  That’s a mouthful! At this very moment, she’s sleeping on the back cushion of my writing chair, just behind my shoulder like a very warm neck wrap. When she wakes up and gets restless, I know that’s when it will be time to take her out to “get busy.” (Euphemism there!) Because that’s what it takes to house break a puppy—24/7 eternal vigilance.

Our newest baby, Johanna

Our new baby, Johanna. Aka JoJo, aka Puppy.

Her name is JoJo, although most of the time I find myself calling her Puppy. As for her name? Our family has a tradition of naming pets after either electronics engineers (Nikki and Tess were named after Nikolai Tesla) or authors (Aggie and Daph were named after Agatha Christie and Daphne DuMaurier.) I suppose I could lie and say that Bella was named after Alexander Graham Bell, but here’s what happened. On a rainy October day going on five years ago now my daughter, grandson, and I found an abandoned miniature longhaired doxie on the street. That afternoon, when we came into the house Colt was explaining how we’d found this “poor little fella” on the street. Grandpa allowed as how “Fella” was a boy’s name and this was a girl dog.  “Okay,” Colt said. “We’ll call her Bella.” And Bella she is.

But Bella is older now. We thought that a puppy would be good for us and good for her, and now that we’ve come to love one long little doggie, it seemed like another was in order. As for JoJo’s name? She’s named after Johanna Spyri, the author of Heidi.

So our house has had to be puppy proofed this week. There are now barriers that separate the family room and kitchen from the rest of the house. We have an indoor fiber-glass play-yard that takes up a big chunk of floorspace. When she’s locked up in there, her piteous cries are astonishingly loud when you realize they come from such a tiny creature. (Bella is 11 pounds, and she now looks huge by comparison.) Another outdoor play-yard is due to be delivered this afternoon. That one is for outside.  Because when we’re out walking in the yard, we now have a new baby, a fearless one, who has no concept of water or swimming pools or fish ponds for that matter.

When we’re out in the dog run, JoJo may be long of body but not of attention span. She chews moss, eats pine needles, finds pine cones, and generally does everything but what she’s supposed to do. Consistency and patience are what the puppy-care book says are required. Yesterday and today we had NO indoor issues, so I think we’re making progress on that topic.

When it’s time to go to bed and JoJo is locked in “puppy control,” she is not happy. But here’s the wonderful thing. We have a long house. Our bedroom is at the far end. We close the door. We take out our hearing aids. We turn on our fans. We hear NOTHING!

What’s Bella’s reaction? Mostly, she is NOT amused. Colt explained to her that if she was no longer a princess, that means she has been promoted to queen, but I don’t think she quite got the gist of that explanation. Right now, Bella’s best bet is to take to higher ground when JoJo gets to be too much of a good thing. I don’t know how long Bella’s furniture puppy-free zone will last because JoJo has already learned to negotiate steps. (She has to get a running start.) And on her second day here, when I attempted to shut her in the dog run while I was bringing groceries in from the garage, she made the doggie door work. After all, if Bella could go through that thing, so could she. I came in from the garage and was astonished to find her in the laundry room.

JoJo doesn’t know it yet, but she’s a lucky little tyke. She’s come to a place where her Humans will be at home most of the time.  She’ll have a doggie companion. I knew from having witnessed a couple of nice nose licks between them that eventually, when JoJo isn’t quite such an obnoxious puppy, that she and Bella will be friends.  

No doubt readers of this column will have to endure periodic puppy reports, but that’s what this blog is—a window on my world—and right now, my world has shrunk to the size of that tiny paw that’s poking me in the back of the neck and saying maybe it’s time to go outside.

But speaking of animals I have a couple more things to mention. The tennis ball shooter was a no-go, so now I have a machine gun style Nerf gun that, when properly aimed, can reach from the back porch all the way to the fishpond. The ammo whistles as it goes.  I’ve only seen the heron once since I weaponized the back porch, but here’s my other Mother’s Day present. Guess what?  The Big Guy lives. I saw him for the first time in MONTHS on Saturday evening.  

And as to Bella, the amazing Book Tour Dog? The score so far this spring is Bella: 2/ Moles: 0.

Yup, it’s definitely time for all of us to go “get busy.”

22 thoughts on “A New Crack at Motherhood

  1. Reminds me of my “granddog” Lily Belle. She gets into everything. (I once even closed her in the dishwasher by mistake). We thought she’d be naughty when human grandchildren came along but she surprised us by being very loving towards children.

  2. She’s beautiful! And will definitely be a source of laughter, joy…and exercise 😉

    Congratulations on the new addition to the family!

  3. Oh my, what a sweet face and beautiful blue eyes! Indeed, she is a very lucky puppy to be a member of your loving family. It sounds like she is already showing she can keep up.

    The few benefits of hearing loss can be very convenient at a time like this! Thanks for sharing and bringing a smile to my face as I see into a window on your fascinating life.

  4. Congratulations. Eventually good company for Bella. Love the choice and reason for her name. I love my great grand dog and my grandkids get to do all the work. Trying to get off the couch at my age with a huge dog “resting” on your feet isn’t easy.

    Glad to hear the heron is okay. In So Cal we are enjoying the RAIN!!! Last weekend it was warm and all the greats were swimming. Enjoy your new addition.

  5. JoJo is beautiful! Lost my long-haired Dachshund last year. Always the escape artist, she broke out of my friend’s yard and was hit by a car on Tombstone Canyon. My experience with “long dogs” has shown them to be full of love and energy; a wonderful addition to a family! I’m certain that my Peanut is sharing the love in doggie afterlife.

  6. Puppies and kittens…wow…we, older folk, take on a lot at times for our animal companions. Love your new puppy…she is really pretty. The “puppy-proofing” led me on fond memories of when I took on three kitten siblings who were about 12 weeks old when I could finally bring them home. Oh my, it had been 17 years since I’d had babies in the house and I wondered daily if I would live through it. Amazing how much mischief critters can get in and how quickly it can happen. Mine have grown – as will your pup – and now I miss their kitten days…a case of rose colored glasses for sure. Hug both of your girls close, keep up the patient training and one day too soon, you’ll have survivied puppyhood…again. Hugs.

  7. What a beautiful little girl! She is indeed fortunate to have such a loving family and I’m sure she will be spoiled as all dogs should be. tomorrow is the Walk for the Animals here in Prescott. The money raised benefits the Yavapai Humane Society and we are walking with our little miniature poodle Molly (also spoiled!). We hope the rain stops before 7am!

  8. I love your stories. In your books on Friday mornings I wait for them.
    We have always in the past gotten a young dog when our older dog got around 10 years. Really perked up the older one and she was able to teach the younger one a lot.
    Our sweet Lil Bit passed away 3 years ago so last Sept my husband said it’should time for a puppy. As a retired couple of a certain age with lots of dog experience you would think we would think.. well Jack Russell is not a good choice. ( past dogs included labs poodles and dashounds) I think we just wanted a dog so bad we did’the think.
    Enjoy your training period. We found that if we called and treated her like a baby with lots of naps ( for both of us) we got along great.
    Belated happy Mothers days from a grateful fan… Jan

  9. Aren’t these little ones fun? We just got a teacup chihuahua. He was under 3 pounds when we got him a little over 5 pounds now. Worse than a new baby. Have to be so careful to not step on him. Hard to feed. Not housebroken yet. But I would love to have 1/10th his emergy. Runs around like a maniac then collapses and sleeps for hours. Our 2 cats not quite sure what to make of him. Enjoy yours and hope Bella gets used to jim
    We spend at least 2 weeks working on a name. Settled on Rowdy.

  10. Puppy is adorable. I an sure you don’t remember.me..i lived in Ariz. But am now Living in a senior home in Renton Washington. I had a slight stroke And having no family around scared the son in Snoqualmie. So i am selling out in Az. I had to get rid of my 2 dogs as they were to big for here.i fdid get to keep my cat, daisy mae. She is coal blackand a.bobtail. lots of company but i mIss my dogs terribly. I would love to have a puppy but that is not in the cards.

  11. I love the story about Bella and JoJo. Our Miss Gabi is a red short hair Dachshund and she gives us the utmost pleasure every day. She can make us laugh out loud even when we are sad.

  12. i know somewhere inside your head you have got a plot involving dogs for your next or next after next book. Maybe about puppy mills or service dogs or military dogs or rescued dogs or…take a look on Facebook : the Gentle Barn about rescued animals , and Dr. Linda bender, what animals have to teach us. Loved Cold Betrayal. I don’t know how you keep all your characters straight and going. Truly amazing. Like Agatha Christy. Did you know that Franny Crosby, the blind Christian hymn writer was so prolific that she had to take a pseudonym because her public couldn’t believe she was writing all her songs. Over 5,000! Looking forward to reading your next book. Warmly. Meme

  13. It sounds like quite an adventure. I’ve never been around puppies, only kittens who don’t like water at all. Do dogs like to swim naturally so you wouldn’t have to worry about this puppy falling in the pools? I think a young animal in the house is good for all of you.

  14. I hope, for everyone’s sake (both 2- and 4-footed), that Bella soon discovers a bit of mothering instinct, and will snuggle JoJo when she feels bereft. Dogs are pack animals, after all, and most of them eventually like to pile up together to sleep.

  15. I am the owner of three Scotties. The newest one, Sophie, was acquired at 3 months old. Puppyhood is not for sissies. My older ones had been able to avoid her antics by jumping up on the couch or chairs. I said that the day that Sophie learned to jump would be the end of their freedom. She is now a constant annoyance to them and I am sure they rue the day that she arrived in our home. There are not enough safeguards to insure that the puppy will not destroy something. Good luck to you. I at least had your books to keep my sanity through the process which is far from over. She finds new things to get into everyday. Sophie will be 10 months old soon. We all hope to survive the first year with this she devil.

  16. I AM SOOOO HAPPY FOR YOU!! Yes, when you have one long little doggie its easy to get another. I have 6. And one mixed breed “pound” puppy. On a small scale I breed the miniature doxies. I just love your new baby. Jojo is so pretty. And, as usual, I love the way you told us about her. They are an amazing breed. A baby is a baby and I love the way you tell about her lack of attention span and what she gets into. We always have our house puppy proof because of possible litters of pups, so I know what you went through to get it that way. I am looking forward to hearing more about her as time goes by. Thank you for another great piece.
    PS. I am reading (and loving) Cold Betrayal

  17. My husband and I adopted Wesley, Jo Jo’s littermate. The little black and tan piebald longhair. We looked long and hard at choosing your Jo Jo but decided in the end that we really wanted a boy. We have an older wiener also, Molly who is 10 and is uncertain of this little bundle of energy that has invaded her world. We are certainly wearing the same shoes on becoming new puppy parents. Puppy proofing, indoor and outdoor pens, car seats, night time potty runs.

    I wish you the very best with you new little girl and know you must be as delighted as we are with our little boy. This proud mom wishes she could post you a picture!

    Kris Cantu

  18. Nothing better in life than puppies and kittens! Whenever I read a mystery the worse thing that can happen is to have something happen to a pet – I absolutely hate that and wish that authors would refrain from doing that. Enjoy her puppyhood.

  19. Jojo is a beauty! She’ll be worth all the hassle of the training period every puppy needs. Bella and Jojo together must be gorgeous. Enjoy!

  20. What happened to the Oreos? I wonder if this School Lunch Dictator had a forbidden sweet after lunch?????
    Ms. Jance, this is an argument I have constantly with myself. (I should say 1 of the arguments) Schools are not the only institution doing this and it goes far past Oreos. Peanut butter sandwiches can be added to the list too. I can only shake my head and be thankful that my son is a senior and my grandkids are homeschooled.

  21. That’s one gorgeous kid! I’d never heard of piebald doxies. I’ve only gotten older dogs recently as I don’t have the patience for puppies. I have gotten kittens, however, and they’re great. I also rescue only. I really like Vikki’s idea, particularly for Sheriff Brady as she rescues as well. Fight rings, Puppy Mills and kidnapping pets for labs would work as would hoarders or abusers. Please think about it. A joint between Beau & Joanna or Joanna & the Walkers would work really well, too.
    Kol Toov (all good things), Marnie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *