Puppies are so sweet, so vulnerable, completely dependent on us for everything. We are like their parents, keeping them safe, providing what they need, watching over them and doing our best to help them become the very best dogs they can be. We laugh at their cute naughtiness, applaud their accomplishments, melt as we watch them sleeping. Puppies are like our children, sometimes dear, sometimes frustrating, often both.

Adult dogs are no longer our children. They still need our care, but only because they are living in our world. We are like their friends. We enjoy our time together, whether we are playing games, mock-hunting together (sometimes it’s called ‘taking a walk’), or just hanging out at home. We admire their fully-formed canine abilities. Adult dogs are our companions, fellow travelers walking our roads with us for a little while.

Old dogs are still our companions, but the relationship has changed again. We are their caretakers, not in the same way as when they were puppies, but in a new and sometimes painful way. Old dogs need our help to cope with failing strength, hearing, sight. Old dogs depend on us to adjust to them; they can no longer adjust to us. Old dogs tug at our heartstrings. We can’t do enough to cushion those old bones, tempt them with their favorite treats, ensure that they are kept as comfortable and happy as possible for as long as we can.  They are like our elderly parents or grandparents, beloved, respected, honored for all they have given us.

If you are fortunate enough to have a puppy in your house this holiday season, enjoy your fuzzy baby. During times of frustration, remember you won’t be a ‘puppy parent’ for long. If you are providing your little one with careful raising and guidance, you will soon have a wonderful friend and companion, hopefully for many years to come. And if you are lucky, you will someday have an old dog to cherish.

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