Dogs seem to be a part of every household anymore, and not just one but sometimes three or four. There are supposed to be approximately 32 percent of households with dogs, while 27.3 own cats. Some cities limit the number of dogs one can have. Chicago has a limit of five, while Holland, Michigan limits households to two, some cities have a limit of four.

I don't know about you but five dogs along with a couple of children and two adults per household would be a pretty busy household. That would be 28 feet bringing outside dirt into the home. You may laugh, but even four extra paws make a difference.

I should know. We have always had dogs, but years ago they were just outside farm dogs, Then, two of our children raised guide dog puppies for 4-H. That is a wonderful program and they both enjoyed the process as they had to complete so much training here and be exposed to and experience many types of situations from large livestock to city sidewalks and lots of people. They had to be raised in a household so these were the first dogs we had in our home.

After enjoying these labs, we decided to purchase one for ourselves. Our first black lab, raised in our home and given full privileges, was a sweet, even-tempered dog that we loved.

After she was killed, we did not have a dog in the house and that was fine with me. As I said those four paws make a huge difference. House cleaning is never ending and with dogs in the house the cleaning is non-stop. Inside dogs are bathed and brushed, their beds cleaned, toenails clipped, hair swept up - lots of work!

After losing our most recent outside dog to cancer last summer, we decided to get another black lab and looked around until we found one we liked. That was in November. Now why didn't you tell me we should have waited until spring. Being November and with winter coming on, we decided that little puppy needed to be in the house until warmer weather arrives.

Somewhere along the line I had forgotten how frustrating it can be to train an eight-week old puppy that they shouldn't piddle in the house or worse. It took a lot of cleaning puddles before we got the message across and believe me, I wasn't sure I would survive. We finally got that accomplished and with age, necessary trips outside are less frequent.

But, again, you forgot to tell me that puppies like to experiment with all kinds of things, just like a two-year old child. How could I forget! This puppy was especially curious and quick. She can find anything left on the floor, from tiny stones to plastic pieces left from opening packages, to nails or screws, or other small objects. How did they get there and where did she find them? Your guess is as good as mine. A ruined keyboard (wires chewed through), a few odd shoes, papers and other sundry items are remnants of her assaults.

She likes nothing better than to snatch a dirty tissue from the wastebasket and tear them into shreds all over the floor. Wastebaskets with lids solved that problem. Forget about sweeping the floors. Brooms are made to bite and pounce on, you know. Heaven forbid they are needed to actually clean the floor. The sweeper became something that raised the curiosity, but I could usually get that done.

Come a few of those snowy days, or those awful, muddy days and those footprints became monstrosities that made the floors look as if they have never been cleaned. Even though we led her around and round on a rug, those feet still retained wet and mud. Oh, why didn't you tell me! Then there is the hair that sheds constantly and has to be swept up. You didn't tell me about that either!

Most two-year olds have a toy box. Well, with a few sundry bones and a couple of tug toys, as well as a couple of odd shoes, something was needed to contain the mess. Well, that's somewhat an understatement. For just like any two-year old that puppy dumps everything on the floor and scatters it around.

During my evenings I have always enjoyed doing some kind of fiber arts, usually knitting. I did not know how quick a puppy would pounce on my chair and get my ball of yarn and take off like the devil was following her. Maybe she was, for nothing is more frustrating than to have a ball of yarn unraveled over the floor or my knitting pulled off my knitting needles. And you think cats are bad! Suddenly my life was turned upside down. My time was dictated by a five-pound puppy who only allowed me to live my life when she was sleeping. They say dogs sleep a lot, and I am here to tell you they don't sleep enough to get done all the things one wants to do.

So, for my sanity and for her safety, she is now more confined and cannot have the run of the house. I can sit in my chair and knit without my yarn being snatched and unraveled. Peace reigns! Or, somewhat, anyway. I still see two dark eyes eyeing my yarn longingly and toys still are scattered over some of the floor. Dirty footprints still abound, but are not everywhere. And, I can rest easier knowing that a busy nose and four paws are not getting into mischief somewhere out of sight and I don't have to shadow her every step.

It seems I have forgotten training all those other puppies. Now I remember, but I wish you would have told me. I would have waited until spring to get that puppy!


Jeannine Roediger has lived on a family farm all her life, first as a farmer's daughter and now as a farmer's wife. She writes weekly for the Times Bulletin and enjoys gardening, quilting, cooking, bird watching and writing.