I love Lucy.
She's my favorite show. Her antics make me laugh, along with her crazy pace - dashing all about, taking what's not hers to take.
I love Lucy and she loves me. It's black and white: We're as happy as two can be.
Little Lucy, a dachshund-beagle mix, is my shadow for three weeks while her owner, my son, trains for a new job. When I eat, she watches my every bite. When I nap or watch TV under a pile of blankets, she insists on burrowing in. Although she may appear sound asleep, she can go into full-howl mode in a second if a UPS driver dares to show up at our door or another dog walks by our house.
While I work in my home office upstairs, Lucy curls up at my feet and waits for the work to end and the fun to begin. On the other hand, our big dog, Typo, a mix of Australian shepherd and chow chow, is not even allowed on the second floor of the house.
My excuse for the discrepancy is that Lucy is only with us for a couple of weeks, and there's not time to teach her all the house rules and boundaries that Typo has worked on for nearly 12 years. Plus, Lucy is my only grand-dog, and much younger than her temporary housemate.
In observing these canine "siblings," I'm learning that some of the wisdom I've absorbed as a parent, preschool art teacher and journalist lines up with lessons I've learned from these two mutts full of unconditional love. A few examples:
Trust your gut feelings. If the concept of letting your child "cry it out" or sleep alone doesn't work for you, don't do it. But define a bottom line with your spouse. For example, the baby starts out in a crib in your room, but not in your bed. The house dog does not sleep in your bed, but the little visitor is up for debate.
Don't get caught in the parent trap of comparing milestones, whether of your kids or your dogs.
Recognize with both kids and puppies that if you use bribery and treats to correct behavior, you have to be prepared to pay up again and again. Instead, teach and model the behavior you want to see. Use praise and affection and you'll receive it in return. Give lots of ear rubs (or hugs) and "good girl" remarks as rewards, and stick to one- or two-word phrases for directions.
Set up a routine and read your child's or dog's cues before she gets hungry, tired, anxious or overly stimulated.
Kids and dogs can both be impulsive, so keep a close watch. Lucy ran off one night with her leash trailing behind her, and I was frantic. My husband reassured me that Lucy would know the way to Grandma's house, and sure enough, after about 30 minutes of anxiety, there she was in the driveway.