Photo: Daisy and her new “lamb” do (we’re holding her ears in this position)

About a month ago, after a particularly frustrating episode with the puppies (of course, it’s been replaced by dozens of more frustrating episodes since), I searched online for what to expect from 8-month-olds. They went into a lot of detail, but the upshot was that this age is like a human’s teenage years. While a puppy is maturing, he or she is becoming independent and, as a result, unreasonably headstrong and rebellious. That about sums up Archie and Daisy at this moment in puppy life.

At the beginning of April, Don and I returned from a week in Amsterdam. While our 21-year-old niece, who house- and puppy-sat for us, continued with the puppies’ training (including our complicated feeding ritual), Archie and Daisy were ALMOST back at ground zero when we returned. How is that possible?! They wouldn’t sit at curbs before crossing street. They wouldn’t focus unless we had a treat under their nose. They’d sit on command, but they wouldn’t stay there, popping back up like they had springs in their butts.

And Archie was spending most of the day jumping up (only front paws, thankfully) on tables in my office and foyer, so much that he’d scratched all the finish off the edges. Daisy, on the other hand, was spending most of her day scratching at the front door, but most of the time only sniffing when we got outside. We live in a townhouse, so it was a lot of up and down for me. My train of thought had become like a commuter train, i.e., frequent stops and starts. (No wonder I often forget to send half-composed emails!)

They’ve also entered another chewing phase (thought that ended when they got their permanent teeth but apparently not!). They’ve destroyed three pairs of my prescription glasses, the end of a flip-flop and another whole flip-flop, two crate pads (holes right in the center), the bindings off the blankets that replaced the crate pads, the corners of some of our base molding, and they’re working on the hall rug! “Leave it” works in the moment, but they just go right back and do it again. Teenagers!

When we were naive enough to believe that they needed more independence, we removed the gate between the first and second floors and sometimes even let them come to the third floor. The other day, Archie somehow wiggled between the wall and the gate where we keep Sammy’s stuff and ate both Sammy’s food and its byproducts (no kisses for you, young man!). The good news is I’m getting my exercise running up and down steps a lot to find out what that whine or crash means.

On the flip side of this trying period, the puppies are truly becoming more mature in many ways. They behave a little better when they encounter dogs in the neighborhood, they’re remaining out of the crate for longer periods, and interacting with Sammy more inquisitively and less intimidatingly. I even saw Daisy, after Archie had eyed the antler she was chewing for a while, leave it for him and go onto another toy. And they’re still just as sweet and loving. In fact, Daisy has even snuggled up to me a time or two! Sorry, Don!