Experiencing puppy love a little late in life

I feel like a real Coloradan now.
On Saturday, I made two major acquisitions. I got a puppy, and I bought a snow shovel. I guess all that is left is to buy a pickup. That will have to wait, though. My Jeep, with 177,000 miles on it, will have to make do for now. At least it has four-wheel drive.
With getting a puppy, I felt like a new parent again.
I have four kids, who are all teenagers. And I’ve had two dogs. But you forget what having a “baby” is like.
The puppy, still not named (I’m open to suggestions), is a Husky/black Lab mix. She’s a cutie, but that first night was a long one.
I picked up the puppy Saturday afternoon. I thought Saturday night would never end. Morning couldn’t come soon enough.
I put the puppy in a kennel when I went to bed. I thought I was prepared for the crying. But this was more like howling. I wondered how such a small dog (for now, anyway) could be so loud. It was like she was crying into a microphone. I thought, surely, the entire neighborhood must hear her crying.
This went on for what seemed like hours. Actually, it was about three hours, I think. I managed to sleep off and on, only to be awakened by the loud crying coming from the kitchen.
Everybody warned me it would be like this. And I had been through this crying stage before, with kids and two other puppies. Like I said, though, you forget what it’s like.
How is it a puppy can fall to sleep so easily when you’re holding it, or you have it on your lap, even when you’re carrying around? But the moment you put it in the kennel, it becomes some kind of crying machine.
Eventually, I gave in. Yes, I brought it into bed with me. I know, big mistake, right? And where did she want to sleep? On the pillow, right next to my face, of course. The rest of the night she slept like, well, a baby. At least one of us got some sleep.
The next morning, she was all happy and playful — my hand became a chew toy. I felt like I had been up all night, which, in a way, I had been.
My neighbor Shannon recently got a puppy and I would hear it crying sometimes when it was outside. Or I would stop and pet the puppy when I walking by, then it would cry when I left. But that was different. That was someone else’s puppy. Now I’m the one with the crying puppy.
The puppy is great, and we seem to be bonding (of course we are, she’s sleeping in my bed), but this has really messed with my routine. I have moments when I wonder, what was I thinking?
I keep telling myself this will pass. That this is only a stage. That she will learn to like being in her kennel. That someday this will all be a distant memory. That we will be best buddies. That things will get better.
They will get better, won’t they?
At least now, when it snows, I will be prepared.
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By the time you read this, we will know who our next president will be. Thank goodness. I don’t know about you, but I was ready for the election to be over with. During the flurry of the final days and weeks of the campaign, it seemed both candidates did more criticizing the other guy, rather than telling us why we should vote for them. I counted, and on the Sunday before the election, my inbox at the the newspaper had received 17 e-mails, and 16 of them were from John McCain’s camp. That was a bit much. Honestly, with the economic mess much of the country (and world) is in, I’m not sure who would want the job.
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I did hear one idea I really liked. Wendy from Wendll’s Wondrous Things told me when she voted early, someone in the clerk’s office had the suggestion that when people voted, they should be given some kind of an electronic chip, which would go into a TV or computer and block or prevent them being bombarded with all of the political e-mails, phone calls, television messages, etc., because they had already made up their mind. Now, that would encourage early voting.
Speaking of early voting, Nancy Amick, Rio Blanco County clerk, said 59 percent of active or registered voters had requested a mail-in ballot or voted early.
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Friday night, I was a tipsy taxi driver for the Meeker Chamber of Commerce’s Halloween Bash at Gary’s Steakhouse. I’m still not quite sure how I ended up in that role. I couldn’t help seeing the irony: Here I am, still new to town, and I walk just about everywhere, yet I’m the one giving people a ride home. And the people I am taking directions from, let’s just say, they were feeling no pain. I thought for sure I would end up driving aimlessly somewhere out in the Piceance Basin and never be heard from again. Fortunately, I didn’t get lost, but I did get to listen in on some rather interesting conversations, to say the least. Actually, everyone I gave a ride to was appreciate of the lift home. One nice young fella I gave a ride to, named Lee, told me he was “taking one for the team.” I wasn’t quite sure what he meant by that comment, but it sort of summed up what it felt like being a tipsy taxi driver.
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Speaking of the chamber of commerce, there has been a sign posted on the front door of the office. The sign read: “Sorry, we do not know where the elk or deer are …”
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I saw Everett Vaughan, the manager at White River Market in Rangely, on Friday. He told me he was recovering from viral pneumonia. Then, when I was talking to Dr. Debby Salter, she asked me if I had had a flu shot. It was like a sign. Next thing I knew, I was being led back to the nurse’s station and somebody was getting ready to stick a needle in my arm. I rolled my shirt sleeve up, but the person who administered the shot had to ask me to move my hand out of the way. I think it was her way of saying there’s not much muscle on this arm. So, anyway, I did get a flu shot, AFTER I have already had that head and sinus cold that is going around.
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Bill de Vergie, DOW area wildlife manager, said attempts have been made to track the mountain lion that has been reported in the Sage Hills area of Meeker.
“We’ve tried to run him three different times, but we’re always two or three hours behind, and time is critical in dry conditions,” de Vergie said. “It has been so dry, most of the scent was gone. In snow, when they track them, it’s much easier.
“We respond to every call, every sighting,” de Vergie said. “We’re going to continue to trail this cat, and if we can get it, we will take care of it. Because this is not a situation we like to see.”
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Copies of the book, “Tribute to Our Troops” have arrived. The book, a pictorial tribute to Rio Blanco County veterans, can be picked up or purchased at the Herald Times office. Thanks to all of those people who sent in photos to be included in the book. By the way, the photos can be picked up at the newspaper office as well. Special thanks to Brenda LeBleu of Rangely and Peggy Schmidt of Meeker, who helped collect photos for the book. Thanks, too, to Niki and Caitlin Turner for proofreading, and Bobby Gutierrez for selling ads for the book. A list of veterans, compiled by Tom Kilduff, is included in the book. It would be darn near impossible to come up with a comprehensive list of veterans — we’d be sure to omit someone. But this project was our way of paying tribute to Rio Blanco County veterans, all of them.
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I have heard many wonderful things about Gene Scritchfield. His death last Wednesday, at the way-too-early age of 38, stunned the Meeker community. Everywhere you went, people talked about Gene and what a great guy he was. Words don’t seem adequate to express the sense of loss people feel. By all accounts, Gene sounded like the kind of person you would have been proud to have known. I’m only sorry I didn’t get the chance. I never met Gene. I wish I had.

Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.