When Ahro lost Mimi, her beloved Samoyed, she was devastated. She’d had her for years and loved her, and more importantly, Mimi was loved by Moomyung as well. She’d cried for days when she’d passed and it broke both of their hearts to have an empty house now. But she just couldn’t bring herself to get another pet. It was too soon, she told her boyfriend, and she missed Mimi too much. Upsetting thoughts lingered in her mind like “What if I can’t love another pet the way I love her?” and “I can’t handle losing another pet.” Moomyung understood and decided that if they ever adopted it would be later in the future after discussion from them both.
It was nearly a year later when Ahro felt confident enough to engage in Moomyung’s idea of another pet, much too tired of the quiet home. She missed playing with her dog and going on walks and Moomyung was all too ready to surprise her.
Hansung had been perfect; energetic, curious, a little naive, trusting, loyal . A new transfer student at the college who’d had a hard time making friends, who was always bustling with energy and had the sappiest puppy eyes to date. His hair was a beautiful chestnut and long enough to be floofy, with a small mullet, and he couldn’t wait to run his fingers through it. Moomyung loved him. Bringing him home was a huge ordeal and they knew training him would be even harder. He was just a puppy, not knowing any better, as opposed to Mimi who was a little old lady who knew every trick in the book. They were bound to have their hands full and it’d been a long while since they’d trained any animal. They’d even asked Sunwoo to help and when he happily obliged they finally started his training.
The first couple weeks Hansung had to wear his muzzle, a cute, bright, yellow one, and Ahro felt guilt every time he was seen knocking it against the side of his cage. She thought muzzles were cruel but Sunwoo had informed her that it was not only for their safety but Hansung’s as well. It came off so he could eat and drink and they could brush his teeth (a true adventure) but it stayed on often, especially during training.
She took it off at night when they’d put him in his cage to sleep and felt guilty wreak havoc on her everytime she heard him cry. But she knew after a while it would stop and his separation anxiety wouldn’t be so bad and he would sleep through the night. Sleeping through the night also meant that he wouldn’t need as many naps throughout the day, and would adapt well to their schedule.
They’d given him a bright red collar, the info tag printed on the back so it wouldn’t irritate him. He didn’t mind the collar it seemed. He didn’t like his leash as much because he couldn’t go very far and soon they’d changed to the adjustable bungee leash. Once they’d switched it he seemed much happier and spent most of his time outside smelling the plants and the rose bush and trying to eat them.
It’s Saturday, and Moomyung spends the first half of his day playing with his puppy before training time. Hansung rolls around with his toy balls in the living room, every so often taking one by the mouth and chewing it so it squeaked, offering it to Moomyung who took it (even if it was covered in spit) and would roll it back into the play area gated off. Sometimes he would wash it off before giving it back, just for said ball to face the same torment of being ground upon and mauled.
Hansung’s play area was located in the back of the house, separated from the kitchen by a sliding door often kept open. That’s where the gates would come in. If it weren’t for those, they couldn’t keep an eye on him because the door would need to be shut. And if they opened the door, he could easily get to the kitchen and into things he wasn’t supposed to. Hansung had proven to have a habit of stealing the treat bags and gnawing them open. Once discovered, they gated off his entire play area. It helped that he could see them as well and know he wasn’t alone.
The play area was satisfactory enough for Hansung, decorated extensively by Ahro. The walls were still wood, painted with different color paw prints and bones, and while it was cheesy Ahro thought it livened up the area. It was padded with a foam playmat, littered with toys and his blankets and pillow, with one or two puppy pads in case he had an accident, which rarely happened. Hansung was good about scratching on the wood beside the door to ask to be let out of his play pen, the wooden gates forbidden to be touched. They were also difficult to open from the other side and tall enough where he’d have to sit up on his knees to unlatch it. He’d done so once without asking and seconds later been swiftly yanked over Ahro’s knee for a spanking. Hansung hates being spanked but they’ve been training him extensively so that he rarely gets in trouble.
“Hansung~” Moomyung calls from the couch, shaking the bag of animal crackers they used as treats. Hansung’s eyes were on him now and he can see the gears turning in his head when he slowly sits back on his knees. “Good boy. Can Daddy take off your muzzle? Come here, let’s get this off,”
Moomyung slides from the couch to the floor where Hansung sits still, and unclasps the muzzle. Hansung immediately nuzzles his arm, rubbing his face against him.
“Okay, okay, good boy. Sit still. Hansung, still,” Moomyung patiently waits until he stops. Patient is virtue with Hansung. He’s an overexcited puppy and they’re never going to get mad about that. “Good boy.”
He holds out a cracker for Hansung to take and he does so hastily, and Moomyung has to pull his fingers out of the way. He pets Hansung’s head while he chews and waves Ahro over from the kitchen.
“Do you want to train him today? I’ll finish cooking,”
“Of course!” She ruffles his hair with both hands and kisses his nose. “You’re going to be a good boy for me right?”
Hansung’s brain short circuits and he licks Ahro’s hands excitedly and she squeals. It feels weird to be covered in slobber again. “Hansung, down, sit. Sit. Hey, mister, eyes on me! Sit.”
It takes a few tries to get him to calm down again to sit but when he does she holds out a cracker. He takes it more carefully this time. When Moomyung leaves to finish cooking he follows him with his eyes, on edge. Ahro knows this and brushes his bangs back to kiss his forehead.
“Daddy’s not leaving. Eyes on me, okay? Look at me.”
Hansung looks at her and she melts. His eyes are gorgeous.
“Sit still, good boy. Lie down. Lie down, go on,” she shakes the treat bag and he reluctantly lies down on his stomach, not used to the position. He looks uncomfortable but Ahro holds a cracker right under his nose for him to take. “Good boy.”
Hansung pushes himself up to sit again, eyes on her.
“Lie down.” She repeats.
He does so more swiftly this time and waits. “Stay.”
Hansung frowns now but she ignores it for the time being. “Moomyung, I think he’s okay with lie down!”
“We’ll try it a few more times, just in case, hm?” She coos. “Okay, Hansung, sit.”
Hansung now understands how to lie down and Ahro only repeats it a few more times before she gives him a couple more treats and allows him to lick her fingers and her face. She’s laughing too much to push him off and he gently wrestles her down against the couch to sit in her lap and continue the kisses. She scritches him behind his ears and it only fuels his active behavior. “Okay, baby, good baby, good boy,”
He soaks up her praises and headbutts her neck a couple times to be pet. She pets his head, kissing the top of his head while she does so. “Mommy loves you so much.”
Hansung knows this, she knows, and she knows that Hansung also loves her. He never misses a chance to show her, always so excited to see the couple. His attachment is certainly what feeds into his separation anxiety but they’re working on it. Right now she just wants to feel him pressed against her face, smelling his fruit shampoo.
“The food’s done, but I don’t know if you’re ready to eat,” Moomyung’s voice reaches from the doorway to her, a smile evident on his face. “You might want to wash your face. There’s spit and crackers all over it.”
“Oh, that’s gross,” she giggles, still engaging with her pup. “Hansung, sit. Mommy has to get up. Sit, boy.”
Hansung rubs his face against her one more time before sitting and letting her up. He turns to watch her go to the bathroom to wash her face and hands, to get ready for lunch. Usually they put food in his bowl in his play area but sometimes they feed him by hand. He waits until she comes back.
“Here. Good boy!”
He only needs to be told once to scamper over to her. It was the first command he learned and only needed to be repeated once before he perfected it. He follows them into the kitchen, waiting by his play area, bumping the gate with his nose. They laugh at him and pet him a couple times but they’re too busy setting the table and moving the food into bowls to pay attention to him.
Ahro yells when she almost trips over him as he dashes over to her. She hardens her voice a bit. “Hansung! By your gate! Go to your gate!”
Hansung slinks back to his gate, watching his Mommy closely. Ahro puts the dishes on the table before petting him again and letting him into his play area. “Good boy. Go on.”
He whines when she closes the gate but sticks her hand over it. “We’re right here! Go play with your toys. Go play!”
Moomyung carries the rubber balls into the kitchen and dumps them over the gate into the play mat. “Here’s his balls. Hansung, play with your balls, okay? Play time.”
He waits for them to go sit down, and start eating, before he does so. Ahro watches him from the corner of her eye and tries not to engage him. She doesn’t want him to get the wrong idea and they need to draw boundaries at meal times. “I feel a little evil.”
Moomyung snorts, covering his mouth. “Sorry, sorry. It’s okay, he’s fine. Look, he’s forgotten about us already.”
She turns to where her boyfriend is pointing and finds Hansung swinging his stuffed bear back and forth between his teeth. It’s the best Sunwoo has given him. “Wow, replaced already.”
Moomyung shrugs, “what can we do?”
She laughs dryly but she doesn’t actually mind. She loves watching her puppy play. She loves watching her puppy regardless; when he’s sleeping, eating, playing. She just loves watching him and petting him and kissing him. She loves her puppy, just as much as she loves Mimi. All those scary thoughts leave her head and never come back.