By Rikki Cheese, news anchor for KTNV, Channel 13

Reflections of a Puppy

Every year, on the second Sunday in May, Americans celebrate Mother’s Day. We honor maternity and shower mothers with cards, gifts, flowers and restaurant visits.

But what is a Mother? Do you have to give birth to be considered a Mom? Do you have to raise children? Does the simple act of nurturing qualify?

I didn’t think I would ever get married, but I wanted to raise a child, so I considered adopting.

Aware that being a single parent would be an enormous undertaking, I decided to do a test run by raising an Akita puppy first.

Yikes!

PuppyWhining, crying, all-night feedings. Constant pooping. Expensive visits to the vet. Countless boxes of training pads, the canine version of diapers. Teething. Shedding. Non-stop training. Sit. Down. Stay. Sit. Down. Stay. I worried about his happiness. I worried about his health.

Plus, I chose a challenging breed. Akitas are Japanese bear-hunting dogs. Like most of the Northern spitz breeds, descendants of the oldest dogs on the planet, they are strong-willed, resilient and self-reliant. They can be tough to train. Every day began with the same conversation. Tundra: “You’re not the boss of me.” Me: “I control the kibble.” Tundra:
“My bad.”
But there was also the joy of watching Tundra grow. Watching his personality develop. Meeting the challenges of raising a smart, sensitive, responsible sentient being. I didn’t have to worry about sending my puppy to college, but I did have to make sure he functioned well in society.

I am a native, but until I had to take my puppy to the park I didn’t realize Southern Nevada has so many great parks. Better yet, because so many of our parks are relatively new, we have more dog parks per capita than most cities in the country. Plus, until I had to exercise my high-energy puppy, this Vegas girl thought of the great outdoors as a space you walked through to get to your air-conditioned building or car. I never realized the open desert isn’t a wasteland. If you walk and pay attention to a puppy’s paws, you’ll see flowers peeking through the cracked desert floor. You’ll see lizards, snakes and critters you want to avoid. Coyotes are in that category. You’ll also see bighorn sheep and the occasional mountain lion.

I could have passed on the coyotes and mountain lions.

I got up every morning, happy to see my puppy. I rushed home every night to be with him. Friends couldn’t believe it. “You’re passing on the club to get home to your dog?”

Yep.

Raising a puppy doesn’t compare to raising a child. But now that I’m raising two more Akita puppies, I’d like to expand the definition of Mom.

If you’ve ever been in a romantic relationship and helped raise another woman’s son or daughter; you’re a Mom.

If you’ve ever helped a friend weather a tough time or celebrate a great time; you’re a Mom.

If you’ve ever encouraged or supported anyone, including yourself; you’re a Mom.

If you are involved in any endeavor or group or organization that helps others; you’re a Mom.

If you’ve ever raised a garden, or any kind of pet; you’re a Mom.

My furry babies have four legs instead of two, but under my own expanded definition, I’m a Mom.

Rikki CheeseRikki Cheese co-hosts Valley View Live weekdays from 2-3 p.m., Action News Live from 3-4 p.m., and anchors live updates on Action News at 5, 6 and 6:30 p.m. Contact her at rcheese@ktnv.com.

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