Two Tweens in the House

By Jeannie Fleming-Gifford

There are two tweens in my house. One just asked me if I had any concealer to cover up a pimple and the other doesn’t have a care in the world about puppy acne. One of my tweens broke down in tears as a molar came loose and was fearful of it falling out. The other tween walks around with a constant smile showing her new adult pearly whites and one last baby tooth on the bottom ready to fall out any day. One of my tweens is growing a bit self-conscious. The other tween loves everyone…maybe too much at times.

A human and a pup. An eleven-year- old child and a 6-month- old dog. Yes, there are two tweens in my house. Though there are differences, they both show strong potential and desire to do good in the world. One’s future career is unknown; the other’s future has been planned since her birth. Izzy’s purpose is to impact the life of a person with autism. Izzy is a BluePath pup.

Izzy came into our lives nearly four months ago. Four months of puppyhood and a quick journey through multiple stages of development, from that teeny tiny new puppy who had just mastered “sit,” to this adult looking dog that can now sit, stay, heel, come, down and more. Her vocabulary and skills grow every day.

Six months old, old enough to listen and respond, but still with so much puppy in her that at times she has a hard time making good choices. Lovable and wanting to be loved, Izzy lights up and grows excited with every person she meets. Individuals recognize her puppyhood and her excitement to say hello. And just like my human job as mother, it’s my job with Izzy to help her use her good manners and all the skills she has gained to greet people appropriately. Not an easy feat when it comes to this 45-pound ball of energy.

The tween “years.” Every day our focus is on enjoying the days of puppyhood. Like when our children are young, the days are long, but the months are short. I know that adulthood and Izzy’s future career as a service dog for a person with autism is growing nearer. My time with her as puppy raiser is growing short. Our days are about refining skills and repeating experiences to build confidence. Days are about new experiences. Days are about patience and trying again. Days are about meeting people with differences and allowing her love all of them. Days are about recognizing the mischief of a puppy and creating learning lessons from each challenge. Days are about playing and cuddling and joyful puppy playtime. All days are about preparing her for her future.

There are two tweens in my house and it is a joy watching both grow.

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