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So Now I Come to You With Open Mouth of Razor Teeth

As I write this I am at home. I am sitting at a tray-table workstation, typing on my Macbook, trying to figure out how to keep our Bernese puppy of 14 weeks from her ritual during my attempts to work: she jumps up, wild-eyed, forepaws on my thighs, leads with open mouth filled with tiny razor teeth and slurpy saliva, and puppy-mouths—which, though not hostile in nature, translates as “bites”—my forearms. And it hurts. Sometimes I bleed from little tiny punctures. And I am annoyed. That we thought raising a puppy would be seamless. Easy. It was last time, was it not? Only 7 years ago with Nicky. Hard to remember. But definitely less teeth than this. Our dear departed dog only 6 years 4 months when he found his way on the Rainbow Bridge to doggy heaven, was always more of a licker than a biter.

And so my husband and I are faking our way through trying to train this dog to moderate her puppy boisterosity (a word I just invented). We finally had our first training lesson last night. “When she lunges at you” our cheerful young teacher Chandra intones, “Turn away from her, with your arms up like this. Do not pet or push or yell. She will think you are playing with her. Instead, just turn away. She will get the idea and will stop.”

Jump! So I turn away. And she eventually grops to all fours, all whale-eyed and tail-whipping. Only to reload and Jump! again. And then again. So I am forced to stand. And refresh the cycle that will supposedly keep her from jumping on me—because I do not give positive attention until she settles down.

She doesn’t really settle down. I start to wonder if I will ever be able to type in my home again. What is about this calm act that seems to whip Bitzli into a frenzy? Let’s face it—my husband and I are fakers when it comes to knowing how to elicit sweet obedience in a dog. Sometimes, we luck out. Mostly, I sense she’s plotting her next destruction, mouth first. I hate not being able to control a situation. Puppy teeth. Does it truly get better someday?


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