Raising a Puppy Is Hard but Rewarding Work

Halsey Blocher avatar

by Halsey Blocher |

Share this article:

Share article via email
Halsey Blocher column

We recently welcomed a new addition to our family. Our adorable puppy, Thor, is a mix of Australian shepherd (75%) and blue heeler (25%). Another name for this mix is Pure Cuteness.

Thor seems to be adjusting well to his new home. Our family is completely smitten by him, and he has already become attached to our vizsla named Geri, which is short for Geronimo. Thor also has high hopes for befriending our cat, Toby, but Toby doesn’t understand why this annoyingly bouncy ball of energy insists on following her everywhere.

As is the case with many things, my SMA poses some challenges when it comes to raising and training a puppy. Until Thor is a little older, he’ll need a lot of looking after. However, I’m generally up for a challenge — especially when it comes with such irresistible blue eyes!

Thor. (Photo by Heather Dye)

Due to his small size, I must ask someone where Thor is every time I move until he understands the power that my wheelchair possesses. Its weight could easily injure him, and I don’t have the ability to move my head enough to see if he’s decided to take a nap by my wheels.

Geri and Toby both enjoy sleeping beside me as well, but they know to move away when they hear the distinctive click that means the chair is about to engage and start rolling. Thor eventually will make this connection, but in the meantime, I must be extra careful and ensure that someone else has eyes on him whenever I don’t.

Like most puppies, Thor enjoys chewing on things. Not only is it fun, but also it soothes his sore baby teeth that will soon fall out and be replaced by strong, adult ones. He has several cool toys that are ideal for both his teething needs and his love for playing, but he still manages to find other items to chew on. We’ve noticed that he’s particularly fond of shoes.

(Photo by Lucas Rosbrugh)

It’s important for him to learn that some things are not intended to be chewed. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is by teaching him the word “no.” What makes this a bit difficult for me is that my voice is soft and sometimes quiet. It doesn’t always sound like I’m serious when I tell him not to snack on the newly painted kitchen chairs.

Understanding my gentler tone will be something else that Thor will have to learn. We can tell that he’s incredibly intelligent, and he’s already starting to pick up on this. A few days ago, he tried to nibble on my toes and immediately stopped when I said no. I was proud of him for listening.

We’ve also been utilizing a homemade “penny offense can” to deter bad behaviors. This is a simple aluminum can filled with spare change that we shake any time Thor tries to do something he shouldn’t. He dislikes the loud rattling noise it makes, and hearing the sound reminds him that it isn’t acceptable to chew shoes or bark at his favorite feline friend. I don’t have the strength to shake the can, but it’s still proven to be a useful training tool for our family.

Thor is catching on to household rules quickly and takes cues from our other pets. The challenging parts of puppyhood will soon be in the past, and like all great investments, it will have been worth it.

Hopefully, the best parts of raising a puppy won’t disappear just yet. Because who doesn’t love puppy snuggles?

(Photo by Heather Dye)


Note: SMA News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of SMA News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to spinal muscular atrophy.


Jen avatar


Thor is so cute!! I am happy for you and him, too. It sounds like he's that hyperactive puppy and will entail much fun.

I love the ” penny offense can, ” I haven't heard of that tactics but can imagine it would deter him.

I'm so excited to finish mine about Sasha this week.

Halsey avatar


Thanks Jen! Thor has been a delight! And he’s definitely helping to wear out our other dog who is an even more high energy breed! I’m looking forward to learning more about Sasha!


Leave a comment

Fill in the required fields to post. Your email address will not be published.