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Sudie Crouch: A second puppy-hood for Pumpkin
Josephine Menge, Unsplash

It’s hard to believe Pumpkin’s 14, but she is. 

She still has the same spunk and gusto she’s always had, but her eyes have gotten a little cloudy and we’re pretty sure she’s practically deaf. 

She can hear the treat jar being opened though, so maybe her hearing has just become more selective over the years. 

Sudie Crouch
We’ve limited her to the fenced area to help keep her safe. She still thinks she can jump and run like she always has, and for the most part, she can. She just seems to have a bit of difficulty judging the distance now and may get hurt. I’ve also worried she may walk up on a bear before she realizes it, too. 

Normally, she hates any change to her routine — she is a double-herder, after all — but she’s adapted well so far.

In fact, I think she’s enjoying kind of a second puppy-hood of sorts, or maybe she’s just finally realizing she doesn’t have to always be in hyper-herd mode as a Border Collie/German Shepherd mix.

Now, she’s relishing some things she never allowed herself to enjoy before. 

Sleep for one.

I used to think she never slept. 

When she was a puppy, I’d look over at her in her crate to see her lying there on high alert with her ears perked up, eyes looking around cautiously. Now, she loves to get on her back and put her legs up, curling her tail around herself delicately — she is a proper little pup after all — as she snoozes. 

She’ll even close her eyes when she’s sleeping now, something she used to never do. 

That’ll freak you out to look over and see a pup with that inner eyelid thing down but their eyes open.

People food and treats are also her new found joys. 

When she was younger, Punky didn’t care for people food, with the occasional exception of Greek yogurt, but now she sits patiently by the table, waiting for a morsel of something. 

We’re careful about what she gets; a few bites of egg whites here, some turkey bacon there. 

She loves cheese, too, and when I have a few little pieces, she puts her head in my lap until she gets a nibble. 

Before, she had no interest in what we were eating. 

Treats weren’t something she cared about either, but now she is quite demanding when it comes to getting her puppy cookies. 

She has us well-trained as to what she gets and when. 

“You’ve got to eat something besides puppy treats, Punky Brewster,” I tell her. 

I get a low ‘woof’ in response. 

“Cat food doesn’t count.”

In her constantly acrimonious relationship with our mini-panther, she has been known to snatch his bowl and take it up on the couch to eat all of his food. 

Sexy Frank retaliates by standing in her bowl as he stares at her while he eats her kibble. 

Their jealous rivalry keeps them both on their toes literally, but when it’s storming, she will allow him to cuddle her. 

“She’s going to be like those little ladies you see on the news who are celebrating their 104th birthday and when asked what their secret is, they say, ‘I ate bacon and eggs every day, had a snifter of bourbon in the evening, and never married’” I told Lamar. 

“Sounds about right,” he agreed. 

She even lets us love on her more. She was never a cuddler as a puppy or even when younger, but now, she thoroughly loves, and maybe even craves, being hugged and loved on.

Even though she has gotten a bit more relaxed on some things, in other areas she’s more high strung than ever. 

I used to think she was vigilant about my whereabouts but she’s even more so now. 

Pumpkin waits outside the bathroom for me, barking frantically the whole time I’m in the shower, and if I leave the house, I have to tell her where I’m going and how long I will be gone. If I am gone longer than she expects, I am greeted by a rather stern and loud barking fit, accompanied by what sounds like “Where were you?”

There’s even a little agitated paw shuffle bounce that I get that is apparently the canine version of putting one’s hands on their hips to scold someone properly.

As a younger pup, she didn’t like for us to be out of her sight, especially me, since I was the one who adopted her, but her separation anxiety has intensified tremendously.

When I got home after being gone longer than she expected recently, her whole little body shook as she nuzzled into me, holding on to me for dear life.

Something else she’s doing now is putting her paw on my foot as if to hold my ‘hand’ or to hold me in place with her. 

She knows she’s doing it, because when she does, she will glance up at me. 

Even though she helped raise Doodle, she’s still not sure about Mia. 

The German Shepherd tries to get the elder dog’s attention, and Punk won’t have any of it, refusing to make eye contact. 

That’s the Border Collie equivalent of shunning. 

But, Punk has noticed the younger pup’s fascination with a tennis ball, so she made sure she stole one — something she’d never have done when she was younger. 

I caught her sleeping with it the other day.

“Did you get a ball?” I asked her.

The ball was nestled up against her chest with one of her paws in front of it protectively. 

“Punk, I think you’re having a second puppyhood,” I told her. And I hope she is. 

She’s just now realizing how great it can be to be a dog — and not just any dog but a dog who is well-loved and cherished as a family member.

“You’ve got to stick around a bit longer, sweet girl,” I tell her, as scratch her ears and kiss her muzzle, letting her keep the ball.  “I need you around for just another 10 or 15 years or so.”

Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.