Paul Anka wrote this song about Annette Funicello, with whom Anka was having an affair during a package tour. Anka's manager insisted that the affair be low-key and kept out of the press, if possible.
Funicello was an actress who, like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake, was a very popular member of Disney's Mickey Mouse Club. She wasn't allowed to date until she turned 16; she and Anka got together when both were 17. Adults dismissed their affair as "puppy love," but to the couple it felt very strong and inspired Anka to write the song. In her autobiography, Funicello wrote: "Just because we were 17 didn't mean that, for us, our love wasn't real."
The puppy love didn't last, but Funicello did cut an album of Anka's songs called Annette Sings Anka, which was also released in 1960. In 1992, she announced that she had Multiple Sclerosis, and when she passed away from the disease on April 8, 2013 at the age of 70, Anka stated: "She was kind and intelligent and she will be missed by her family and her wide circle of friends, in which I was lucky to be included."
Donny Osmond had a hit with this song in 1972 - his version topped the UK charts and peaked at #3 in the US. What sold the record was the teen idol's supercharged emotion on the line, "Someone help me, help me, help me please." Donny recalled, "(Producer) Mike Curb told me to give it my all on 'Puppy Love,' so I suppose it worked."
This is one of the more innocent songs ever recorded, but in 1986 when Donny Osmond appeared on a panel to discuss censorship in music, he used it to make the point that obscenity is in the ear of the beholder. Said Osmond: "What's the difference between me recording a song with sexual connotations and the way someone else may record it? I could get away with murder. Look at 'Puppy Love,' my biggest record. It can be a very filthy song."
After KHJ Los Angeles deejay Robert W. Morgan had spun Donny Osmond's version of the song over and over for 90 continuous minutes on his March 15, 1972 show, worried listeners summoned the local police. The LAPD broke into the studio, convinced that hippies or anarchists had taken it over. However, it turned out it was just a publicity stunt and the perplexed officers left without making any arrests.