Puppies are like babies crawling across your floor: they mouth everything.
Bottle caps! Paperclips! Stray blue gravel from the Betta fish bowl!
I remember digging my fingers into my boys’ baby mouths, feeling around for those gravelly pieces spilled from a new bag. Though a baby’s relatively shallow mouth is far less intimidating than a pup’s cavernous one. With those razor-sharp incisors.
Now with our new pup Toby, I’m reliving the mouthing stage, constantly scanning the floor for ominous objects. It’s no longer the stray paper clip. It’s my boys stuff. Recently I scooped out a Star War’s Lego helmet and gun.
I found pinhead-size balls on the kitchen floor; the ones that blow up to ten times their size in water, and I could imagine these ballooning in Toby’s intestines:
Or those little red fuzzy balls that came with Little Bro’s disappearing-ball-under-the-cups magic trick from Christmas:
There’s nothing new about my nagging my kids to pick up their stuff. Nor of their not listening: “Sure,” Little Bro mumbled, trance-like clicking the Wii remote.
But now they have a new incentive, since they both adore this fuzzy new family addition. I was able to step up nagging from the usual ultimatum of confiscating their clicky clacky remotes: “Toby could choke. You want him to choke to death?”
This got their attention. They looked away from the TV screen. At me. Sage Momma.
I went on to explain that if Toby didn’t choke, he could get a Lego or a puff ball lodged in his intestine so that he would have to have surgery. I related stories I’ve heard. A friend’s dog who ate a sock. Another who ate his own collar.
“Do you want him to have surgery?” I asked.
“You mean like when they cut your tummy open?” Little Bro said, wide-eyed now.
“Yes. With knives.”
Bigger Bro resumed his mad clicking of the remote. “Well, I don’t leave my stuff around…”
I laughed. The Momma laugh of despair. “I found a brain on the floor.”
Santa had given Big Bro what I’d thought was a fascinating replica of the human body:
You can take all the organs out, and it even comes with surgical tweezer things!
It didn’t occur to me that Big Bro would simply be grossed out; he would get as far as removing all the organs onto my craft table. “Gross.” And he’d walked away.
I was left with a table strewn with organ parts.
Except for the brain. I found it on the floor:
Now I held up the brain for him. It was gross. Squishy like I imagined a real brain would be. I related to Big Bro a scenario of Toby chewing it to bits and swallowing it.
“Well, if he chewed it maybe it would just come out in his poop,” said Little Bro. He’d resumed his own mad remote clicking. “Like those little square things.”
Pup had chewed up little square things you stick to the back of photos and they had passed through his poop. We’d been lucky.
Big Bro was now visibly upset. “He’s not supposed to eat stuff like that, stupid.”
“Don’t call him stupid.” I handed Big Bro the brain and instructed him to go collect the rest of his body parts.
“But I don’t want to have to put them back in the body,” he whined.
Then I don’t remember what happened. Maybe the phone rang. Or the washing machine began to rock. Or the pup got Daddy’s good black dress shoes again.
So the body parts still litter my table:
I’ll probably wind up putting them back in their plastic body case myself, just as I can wind up picking stuff up off the floor because nagging is tiresome.
But I still at will, can relegate their Wii remotes to the top of the refrigerator.