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A Grin at the End: A study on teens and puppies

By Carl Sampson

Everything I know about teenagers, I learned from puppies.

OK, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but at the same time, there’s a lot of truth in it.

Dogs and kids really do have a lot in common, especially while they are growing  up.

This thought came to mind the other day, as I was in a dog training class for Ike, our service dog-to-be, and his seven litter mates.

These dogs are your typical 4-month-old puppies — curious, exuberant to a fault and more than a little distracted. The fact that they get a lot of attention and TLC doesn’t diminish their puppy personalities.

Being part retriever, Ike loves to play fetch. The only thing that throws him for a loop is when the ball lands on a chair. In his mind, the ball it supposed to go through the chair and land behind it. He cannot fathom why the ball “disappears” when it goes near that chair.

He also has his “puppy moments.” Our little angel managed to get out of his kennel while we were at church and turn our bedroom into the scene of a rock-and-roll party. It looked as though the Rolling Stones had spent a week there. Paper was torn up and strewn every which way — and a library book was destroyed in the process. A huge sin in our household.

Mind you, this is a dog that one day will provide much-needed assistance for a disabled person — after he’s grown up.

That, I thought, is what makes him so similar to teenagers. I’m no expert on adolescence, but my wife and I have been around the block a time or two. The youngest of our four boys is 14, and the oldest is 23.

What strikes me about teens is you can be having a perfectly sane conversation with them — and then they will say something completely off the wall.

“So Dad, I really think it’s a good thing that Hosni Mubarak is out of Egypt. In the long run, it will lead to a more stable peace in the Middle East,” one was saying the other day. “By the way, did you know my new cell phone can get FM radio, too?”

I’m told that these disjointed conversations are because the human brain does not fully mature until the age of 25. This creates a lot of peculiar conversations.

The other day I was giving a ride to a couple of the kids’ friends. One was able to switch gears three times in a 15-second time span.

“So I was telling Susie the other day — there’s Dan over by the coffee shack — and we never got that homework assignment finished.”

This isn’t attention deficit disorder or any of those things that doctors and drug companies cook-up to cure.

This is a normal, healthy teen-ager whose brain is just trying to keep up with all the thoughts flowing through it while trying to process the information.

In a sense, just a teenager having a “puppy moment.”

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