Here’s my theory on Attention Deficit Disorder, otherwise known as ADD.
Puppies outgrow it eventually. But I think it’s because puppies are cute and though they require a great deal of attention, they still find ways to entertain themselves.
Like eating your most expensive pair of shoes that you put on a shelf in the back of your closet and closed the door. You wonder how he got in there and up to the top shelf.
Or like digging up the 50 year old jade plant your grandmother raised from a 3” pot.
Or like spreading the garbage all over the kitchen floor and down the hallway, and eating the trim off the wall in every room and the fence in the back yard.
And eating the side of the couch though you feed him more than the vet recommended. And the legs of the coffee table.
Yes, he ate those too.
The sheetrock off the wall. The refrigerator door.
No matter how many toys you trip over in the middle of the night to let the beast out. No matter how many times you yell “No!” They find some way to entertain themselves.
Once they pass the terrible twos, your friends come over and say what a good dog you have because Buster sits in the corner politely gnawing at his rawhide, minding his own business.
And licking himself.
After the awkward moment where he sniffs your best friend’s new girlfriend’s crotch.
They romp mud puddles and ruin your brand new carpet dragging the mud in with them.
They show their love with mangled squirrels. They roll in dead birds when you take them to the beach.
You wonder when they ate the dead fish as they lick your face. You wonder if you should take them to the vet or what disease you might have contracted.
You don’t do either. You don’t give him pills. He’s just a puppy, you say. He’ll grow out of it.
And he does, eventually. Not the dead bird, dead fish, squirrel, mud puddle thing. But you get used to it.
Buster sits at the door waiting patiently for hours until you come home from work. He jumps on you, you push him away.
You make yourself a drink and sit in your lazy boy with the TV on while you read the newspaper.
Your wife wants to know if you want a salad before or with your dinner.
Buster sits loyally at your feet. You rub his belly forgetting how many pairs of socks came out of his butt. You know about the socks because you pick up his poop every morning after his constitutional walk.
You laugh at this. You can’t’ remember when Buster had his last checkup because he’s so healthy.
“Remember how much energy Buster had as a puppy,” you proudly ask your wife as she spoons mashed potatoes on your plate.
“Remember how much energy you used to have as a puppy?”
You don’t find this funny at all, but she clearly does.
“You don’t work as hard as I do,” you tell her.
“Don’t I, then?”
Billy throws a spoonful of mashed potatoes across the table at his sister. He then picks up peas one by one and splats them against the dining room wall.
Your wife picks him up by the shoulder and drags him to his room.
“Did you forget his meds this morning?”you call down the hallway.
She walks into the dining room with a scowl on her face. The kid is wailing in the background through the closed door. His sister picks up the mashed potatoes that landed on the table next to her plate. She lowers her face in shame as she drinks her milk.
“You don’t think I work hard?” your wife asks. She’s mad and you know it.
Buster sits obediently by your side waiting patiently for his share in the family meal. You oblige and Buster smacks his lips. He doesn’t chew and waits for more.
“You spend more time with that dog than you do your son.”
“That’s not true,” you say. You brush your hand over Buster’s huge skull as he gulps the last piece of pork chop.
“Did you give him his medication this morning?”
“Yes, of course I did.”
“You know how he gets without it,” you remind her.
“Yes, I know how he gets. He’s a child. He wants to play. He wants to play catch with his father like you do with that damn dog. He wants to splash around in mud puddles without getting yelled at. He’s sorry he made a mess of your garage. He wants to keep the dead frog he found on his desk because you won’t let him have a fish tank. He wants a BB gun so he can shoot squirrels out of the tree in the back yard.” Your wife is angry now which makes you defensive.
“He needs to learn how to behave like a normal human being and not throw temper tantrums when he doesn’t get his way. He can’t be disruptive in class when the teacher is trying to teach.”
“He’s six,” your wife says. “He can only color elephants so many times. He needs to go outside and play. No video games. No drugs!”
Buster puts his head on your lap. You pet him. You wish your son could be more like your dog.
But he is, you just don’t remember. And the funny thing is, once you teach your son how to catch a ball, he’ll learn how to throw it back to you.