New puppy teaches tough lesson

Thomas Cordy

Jocelyn’s patience was gone.

She looked around her bedroom at the shredded undergarments, the pizza boxes and empty cans and bottles. The hardwood floor peeked through in two small, golden spots.

Peaches, Jocelyn’s newest family addition, was sitting in the middle of the chaos with a foot-long shredded piece of rope dangling from her neck, her tail wagging with excitement and a “look what I did” puppy grin on her face.

Jocelyn had been so ready for a pet. This was her chance to show her parents that she could do it. She had convinced her aunt to let her have one of the newborn Labrador-mix puppies. This was a chance to prove that she was growing up and could handle her class work, part-time job and more.

That was five months ago.

Jocelyn had made good on her promises. Peaches had all of the proper shots, even had a prescription shampoo for the puppy’s sensitive skin. She didn’t have enough money to get the pup spayed yet, but she was saving.

Jocelyn had 40 minutes between classes on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. Lately, it has been a hit-or-miss surprise when she returned home to the two-bedroom apartment.

“Aww, Peaches, what did you do?” Jocelyn asked the 20-pound puppy, her tail wagging and pushing aside strewn paperwork, ponytail holders and barrettes.

Jocelyn started to pick up the trash, again, and was met with puppy kisses on her neck and cheeks.

“Peaches, you gotta stop doing this,” she said. More tail-wagging. “I leave food out for you and water. So why do you keep eating everything?”

More kisses on her ears as Jocelyn shuffled through the rubbish on the floor.

“Oh, there’s that toothbrush,” she said, holding the puppy-gnawed remnant, shaking her head. Add that to gnawed clothes, furniture and glasses, and we’re at $500, Jocelyn thought.

Jocelyn knew she didn’t keep the place clean. A girlfriend told her the place was worse than most guys’ apartments. But 18 hours of class work and 20 hours of weekend shifts at Taco Bell took priority over neatness these days.

Peaches’ waking hours were spent growing up at the apartment. Jocelyn and roommate Dylan poked their heads in and out each day before returning in the evening.

Friends would visit Jocelyn, and Peaches quickly socialized with many new people, extending puppy love to everyone.

Jocelyn had the dog she had wished for. Peaches learned to sit, and housetraining was easy, except for the occasional accident. But most of all, Peaches loved people.

Jocelyn’s attempt to curb her daytime chewing habits with a heavy rope failed. Peaches very quickly taught herself freedom through determined chewing.

She was born with a good dog brain and taught herself new things each day. How to open doors. How to climb. How to open packaged bread, crackers and pasta.

Soon Peaches’ first period of heat came. Jocelyn’s best solution was to let her out.

A week later, Peaches was seen dodging traffic on State and Chestnut streets, along with a new friend, a male yellow Lab mutt.

The streets had become her new home, and Jocelyn had reclaimed her college student freedom.

Thomas Cordy is a senior photojournalism major from Stevens Point, Wis.

The opinions expressed in this commentary represent only those of the writer, and not of the Herald or of Western Kentucky University.