Clippings: Pint-sized pup is a fun challenge

Question: What’s cuter than cute, is as big as a size-12 shoe, is covered with fur and commands constant attention?
Answer: A miniature golden doodle puppy named “Roxie,” who for the past two weeks has put bags under our eyes big enough to pack for a vacation.
I credit our son’s partner, Sarah, for steering us to Roxie. Sarah owns perhaps the best dog I have ever met, a miniature golden named “Maple.” She’s a 30-pound bundle of love, brains, energy and loyalty. Maple, her curly coat a grade-“A” fancy variety of the sweet product for which she’s named, never barks, sits with you when you’re sad, loves to fetch a tennis ball, and follows basic commands — whether you offer a treat reward or not.
There’s only one Maple, but my wife and I agreed to take a gamble on a member of her breed. We waited patiently until Maple’s breeders had announced a new litter of minis and put down a deposit for a pup a couple of months ago.
Two weeks before puppy pickup day, we were invited to choose our little girl during an electronic FaceTime introduction.
My cell phone screen nearly melted from the dangerously high cuteness factor.
The first images were of a teeming scrum of seven-week-old miniature golden doodles, moving in unison toward a communal water bowl. Ten tiny tongues darted into the water. The little rascals then dispersed and we quickly zeroed in on our preferred puppy. Precocious while sporting an inquisitive look, there was something about Roxie that said, “I’m a little heartbreaker, but I’m also a mystery wrapped in an enigma encased in a box of milk bones.”
Fortunately, Roxie was still available and we asked that she be set aside for us.
When we told our son, Mark, that we had named our new pup “Roxie,” he had a good laugh.
“That’s a stripper’s name,” he said.
True, the little squirt walks around in her birthday suit, but I promised to keep her away from glitter.
Before we knew it, it was time to collect Roxie from her Pennsylvania breeders. My wife, Dottie, helped break up the monotony of our 6.5-hour drive by reciting some of the dos and don’ts of puppy rearing. We got a sense of what Roxie would eat, her vaccination schedule and (gulp) potty training. Our two senior citizen dogs are in their teens and our kids are in their mid-20s, so it’s been years since we’d seen a scrub cloth, crate or a diaper.
Oh well, who’s afraid of a mess or two, right?
Roxie was snoozing last Saturday when we plucked her from the playpen she’d been sharing with her seven sisters and two brothers. Tipping the scales at an “astonishing” 5 pounds and covered with caramel-colored wavy locks, Roxie looks like a stuffed toy one might see at FAO Schwarz. When she sits on her haunches and looks at you cockeyed, you’d swear she must have a wind-up key.
Indeed, Roxie is already having to dodge the “pupparazzi.” I’ve had strangers come up and ask to take a picture of the Rox-star. She makes an appearance at a party and her four legs never hit the ground; she’s passed around and hugged like a newborn human.
But Roxie grows weary of the adulation, because she’s all about discovering new things at this point — beginning with our two grand-dame dogs who are considerably older and more stationary than she.
Still clueless about fear, Roxie introduced herself to 90-pound Bertha — a 12-year-old black lab mix — by jumping on her back. Bertha growled, Roxie wagged her tiny tail and pawed at her face. Bertha growled again and this time displayed her teeth. Message received, although Roxie continues to poke the bear through sneak attacks from behind. Bertha’s long bushy tail is a perfect wrestling dummy for the fuzzy termite.
Our smaller 16-year-old lab mix, Libby, is also sending signals that just because she’s going through second childhood doesn’t mean she wants to play. Roxie tries to climb on Libby, who tolerantly wags her tail for a moment and then walks off, as if to say, “I’m retired, kid.”
We bought Roxie a bundle of puppy toys, including chew ropes, balls and a bunch of stuff that squeaks. She gives them a nibble, but she’s got the attention span of a hummingbird and has learned that her toys don’t push back. So her primary playmates end up being her two humans. And let’s just say that can be one-sided and a little painful.
Roxie never met a finger she didn’t like to tenderize with her tiny piranha teeth. A bare toe will do. She clamps her jaws on a trailing pant leg or nightgown hem for a quick chew-and-drag down the hall. We try not to indulge her, so mini-Jaws is quickly unhitched and given a more suitable plaything.
We spend half our day trailing behind the diminutive varmint, pulling things out of her little Hoover mouth that scoops up anything and everything in its path. Grass, pebbles, tin foil, spare change, paper, a dropped ice cube, a dead worm, lint and the list goes on. I’ve perfected the motion of gently unclenching puppy jaws with two fingers and scooping out foreign objects with another finger. I’m in constant fear of falling asleep and waking up to find Roxie’s cute Buddha belly ready to burst with assorted flotsam.
So we have to watch her like a hawk, as she’s a ninja. She goes from drunken waddle to 30 miles per hour in two seconds. If you listen carefully, you can hear her follow you along the carpet. Sounds like raindrops falling on a sponge.
Yes, Roxie can be a challenge. We get less sleep these days, and we’re constantly checking ourselves for puncture wounds. But when she wags her tail in gratitude or falls asleep in the crook of your arm, there’s no doubt she’s worth it.
John Flowers is at [email protected].

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