Chapter #5: Don’t Let the Worrying Begin!

Google is one of the finest — and certainly one of the worst — creations in the history of dog-kind.

Its chief dog upside is that it makes lots of helpful information available to answer questions about why dogs do what they do, how to train them and how to best care for them and love them. (Learn more about those subjects in this section of Thurbers blog.)

Don’t wast precious time worrying about your puppy! Be like my puppy, Thurber, has always been: happy!

But its dog downsides are considerable — as we new dog mom and dads may spend hours online “discovering” that something is terribly wrong with our puppies!

New Malady: Google Dogo-chondria!

Google is the first refuge of our most hypochondriac tendencies.

When you’re not feeling well one day, what’s the first thing you do?

You Google your symptoms and, within minutes, you’re convinced you’re dying from some horrific disease or that something else horrible is going to happen to you — only to later discover you have mild indigestion or something equally harmless. 

Now pick a 9-day-old puppy to bring into your home and — while you wait the longest 6 and ½ weeks of your life, as I did, to bring him home in his 8th week of life — you’ll discover no end to daily Google panic attacks.

Was My Puppy Going to Be Homely?

One thing I noticed about my puppy, at only 9 days old, was that his features were not as angular and pronounced as some of the other pups in the litter.

After I chose him to be the puppy I would bring into my home, Mike set him next to another of his litter mates, who was brown with a larger head and large floppy ears that are common to healthy, good-looking labs.

“Now that’s a handsome pup,” said Mike, pointing away from my puppy, unaware of the incredible slight I immediately felt.

He didn’t mean to slight me or my pup, of course, but his words stung because they were true.

Thurber’s head was smaller than the handsome pup. His ears were significantly smaller and appeared, at that time, as though they may have been deformed — never to develop fully into the long floppy ears labs commonly have.

And as I waited to bring my puppy home, I obsessed over such worries — thanks to Google search.

I typed in “lab puppy with undeveloped ears” and was off to the races, discovering several forums in which other lab mom and dads were panicking over the size of their dog’s ears.

The photos Mike texted me on a regular basis — Mike texted all the new mom and dads daily to share their pup’s development — only made me worry all the more.

Here is a photo of Thurber on January 5, 2021, two days after I met and chose my puppy:

Thurber at 11 days old.

A normal person would react to this photo thinking “what a cute 11-day-old puppy, who will soon open up his eyes!”

Here’s what I was thinking: “Ah, well, he’s not going to develop normal ears, but I will love him anyhow, but I hope his health is going to be OK?”

So I googled “how do you know your 11-day-old lab puppy is healthy” next.

On and on did the panicked Googling commence.

Then I began worrying that his laid-back personality was indicative of some kind of brain condition and, oh, my, thing Google-induced panic only got worse from there.

Was He Going to Be Dumb?

If your pup is one of the more laid-back pups in the litter, here’s what you should do: nothing.

Thank God you will soon be bringing a puppy into your home to bring you endless joy and laughter.

Do not search “is my laid-back puppy dumb?” unless you wish to enjoy sleepless nights and agonizing days in which you are unable to focus on your work or anything else you used to do before you started worrying about your puppy.

There is an endless amount of material on laid-back puppies — the unassertive ones who appear to do their own thing — turning out to be the dumbest pups in the litter.

I spent hours reading it all.

The only outcome of the wasteful exercise was that I was now certain I’d have a dog with undeveloped ears who would also be dumb as a rock.

Still, I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to bring this lovable pup into my home, but I did worry others would mock me for loving such an odd-looking, clumsy, dopey pup.

Thankfully, Mike Continued Sending Pics

Thankfully, as I would happily discover over time, every single worry turned out to be a fruitless waste of time.

Thankfully, Mike continued sending me photos that showed my pup developing in a typical, very healthy manner.

Here he is on January 23, 2021, at 30 days of age:

Here he is on January 29, 2021, at 36 days of age:

By February 16, 2021, at 54 days of age, he began displaying the qualities of a very handsome lab puppy:

It would turn out, I know now, that I would be blessed with a puppy who would become one of the handsomest in his litter. Here he is at month 8:

He’s also way smarter than I expected him, or any dog, to be.

In fact, I have finally realized he is the smarter of the two of us and I am the dumb one with the underdeveloped ears.

I haven’t “listened” to him closely enough to realize he has been training me (more on training later) as every smart does dog to his humans when his humans aren’t fully aware of what they’ve got themselves into.

The Moral of this Silly Story:

Don’t “Google-panic” over your new puppy, as I did, or you’ll waste a lot of precious time that you could have wasted more productively on a million other procrastination-worthy matters.

The moral is: Thank God you will soon have a wonderful puppy in your home filling you with a high level of joy and laughter you had no idea you’d been living without!

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