And they call it … puppy love |

And they call it … puppy love

Heidi Rice
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Fried Rice

“Have you ever been woken up by a giant tongue?” I asked my girlfriend when she called the other morning.

“Ummm … I don’t think I want to answer that,” she responded hesitantly. “I was just calling to see how you were doing.”

“Well, that’s how I woke up this morning,” I informed her. “A big slobbery tongue licking my face, along with a cold, wet nose.”

Husband-Head and I were dogsitting for some friends of ours, something we have done many times over the years. However, this was a new dog that they had recently gotten, and we’d not had the pleasure of taking care of her before.

We were also not aware that she was only 5 months old.

Meringue is a beautiful yellow Lab mix puppy who looks a lot like my own two male yellow Labs. However, my dogs are each 10 years old.

When our friends dropped their puppy off for the week, we put the three dogs in the back yard to see how they would get along.

They ran and ran and ran and ran. And when our friends left, the dogs continued to run and run and run and run – so much that it started to make me dizzy just looking at them.

But they seemed to be having fun. At least until I looked out and caught my guys taking turns trying to, ummm … let’s just say … follow their natural urges with her, although everyone had had “the operation,” so there wasn’t really anything to worry about. Still, it looked like a gang rape situation, so I felt compelled to intervene.

Inside, it didn’t take Meringue long to discover the “toy pot” filled with stuffed animals that my dogs had long ago lost interest in. But it was a treasure chest for her as she took one toy after another out of the pot and pulled all the stuffing out of each toy, one by one.

“I haven’t had to pick this stuff up in years,” I told Husband-Head, as I walked around the house collecting the white fluff. “This is like having a baby in the house again.”

That evening, Husband-Head looked over at our dogs lying on the floor.

“Are they alive?” I asked Husband-Head with concern.

“Yeah, they’re just exhausted,” he said. “For her, it’s probably like playing with your grandparents.”

He was right. In human years, our dogs were each 70 and Meringue was only 3. I then calculated that the collective age in our house between Husband-Head, myself, the two dogs and the cat was 128 years. Meringue must’ve felt like she was in a geriatric ward.

I’d also forgotten how excited puppies get just to wake up in the morning and be alive.

Meringue bounded over to my side of the bed and began furiously licking my face and wriggling her little puppy body.

My dogs seemed a little wary of her.

“Please don’t let her jump on us and make us run for hours on end,” I could practically read in their eyes. “We’re old. We can’t do that anymore.”

She’s just a puppy, I reminded them. You guys were like that once, too.

But the madness continued and when my ride came to pick me up for yoga early that morning, I had to beg off.

“They’re bouncing off the walls,” I said, shaking my head. “There’s no way I can leave them alone in the house for an hour. Just go without me.”

Along with picking up the guts from stuffed animals all over the house, it had also been a good 10 years since I’d discovered another little surprise.

“I just went into the dining room and found the biggest pile of poop I’ve ever seen,” I called to inform Husband-Head at work. “It looks like something left by a large cow, for the love of Pete! I’m not positive who did it, but there seems to be some white stuffing involved. …”

Husband-Head laughed at the thought that I would have to clean it up.

“Hey, why don’t we rent that movie, ‘Marley and Me’ tonight?” he suggested. “You might enjoy it. …”

When he came home from work, Husband-Head got the dogs ready to go on their evening walk. I watched as he put Meringue in a harness.

“What the hell is that?” I asked as I watched him strap her into the contraption. “Why don’t you just get a dolly and put a face mask on her like they did with Hannibal Lecter in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ and roll her around the park?”

Husband-Head couldn’t answer because he had three ballistic dogs jumping around in anticipation of their walk.

As the week progressed, Meringue melded into the family, obviously not aware that it was only a temporary situation. I continued to pick up the remains of stuffed toys, clean up assorted accidents and monitor the doggie relationships.

When her parents came to pick her up, I bid farewell to our young guest, whom I’d grown to be quite fond of.

“Bye, Marley,” I whispered in her ear. “I love you. Try to ease up on the stuffing.”

Heidi Rice is a columnist for the Citizen Telegram and Post Independent. Her column runs every Thursday in the CT and Friday in the PI. Visit her website at to see more columns or purchase her book collection. Contact Heidi at

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