welcome to linux!
step by step booting of puppy goes like this:
step1: loading drivers, kernel modules, configuring network services, etc..
step2: puppy splash screen with boot options
step3,4,5: select keyboard layout, country setups, timezone
I believe you got stuck on configuring Xserver, monitor and video setting..
Note that it is important to provide the proper configuration settings while configuring Xserver otherwise you will not boot properly.
step6: "Welcome to the Puppy Video Wizard"(Xorg or Xvesa)
press enter for <Xorg>
step7: If automatic probing of your monitor was unsuccessful, choose the appropriate setup..
e.g. LCD for laptops CRT for normal monitors with resolutions like 1024X768 or better yet, provide the resolution that you use when loading your Dell Inspiron on your win 2000 setup...
Dont forget to press <TEST> first to verify if that resolution will work before pressing <OK>. If test fails then try another mode from the list until it succeeds.
If problem still occurs, you can also try using <Xvesa> on step6
If all goes well then you will see the puppy desktop on the screen!