I’ve always considered myself a dog person. Whereas cats remind me of sullen teenagers who prefer to be left alone (except when they want something), dogs are perpetually happy-go-lucky Kindergarteners (who never were quite potty trained). After raising what would become the worlds oldest pugs for sixteen years and watching them both cross the “rainbow bridge” (Who came up with that image, anyway? I guess it’s better than what happened to Old Yeller.), I thought I might be done with dogs. They are, after all, filthy animals who prefer their own poo to most high-end dog foods. I assumed I would just rest in the sweet memories of the dogs I’d had as pets throughout my life and the relief that I might never again be jolted out of my sleep in the middle of the night by the sound of pre-barf canine hacking.
But, alas, my peaceful reminiscence was short-lived. My animal-crazed daughter Anna once again took advantage my utter failure as a parent and my apparent subconscious desire to turn my living room into an organic fertilizer processing plant by convincing me to get her a puppy. The puppy was originally supposed to be this year’s big Christmas morning reveal, but Santa assured me that if I waited two months in an attempt to time a new puppy to coincide with Christmas, I would probably have to purchase a pure-bred animal that would cost me roughly the same as a new transmission on a Lamborghini. Instead, I decided to go for the first litter of “free” puppies I could find. My goals were simple. I wanted a dog that, fully grown, would remain no larger than a roll of toilet paper, never shed, and relieve itself as little as possible. Basically, I was looking for a stuffed mole rat.
Instead, what I found (with the help of a family friend who enjoys laughing at me) was a litter of little, black fuzz-balls that looked like the love child of an Ewok and an an Elvis wig. Apparently, they were actually part toy poodle and part terrier breed that shouldn’t be left alone with a poodle. I had told Anna that we were only going to “look” at the puppies, which is like telling me that we are only going to a Mexican Restaurant to “look” at five to seven servings of chips and salsa. Needless to say, we left with a puppy. Anna named her Bailey, even though I was partial to Booger. I think giving animals human names is weird. Oh, did I tell you about the turtle I owned as a child? Steve was a best turtle a boy could ever want.
When we got home with Bailey, I soon realized that God created puppies for the purpose of ruining carpet. Approximately every 30 seconds, some bodily substance was exiting a puppy orifice and redecorating our flooring. Apparently, this problem can be solved by taking the puppy outside exactly 700 times a day. (I haven’t been outside this much since my parents potty trained me.) Despite the mess, though, the puppy was awfully cute running, hopping, biting, licking, biting, snuggling, and biting as we rolled around on the floor with her. Our cat, which was the result of another parental defeat six years ago, simply looked on with annoyed indifference. In other words, she was the same as always.
All of the biting and licking gave way to that odor that only a baby dog can produce-puppy breath. Puppy breath is a bit of a paradox. It has been described as the sweet smell of mother’s milk in a puppy’s mouth untainted by bacteria. I think people say things like that because puppies are cute enough to look past the fact that their breath smells like a loaf of freshly baked bread that has recently run over a skunk. Breath like that wouldn’t be celebrated in any other animal. Just ask my wife when I try to kiss her first thing in the morning.
Through it all, Bailey has already become yet another part of the family-that my wife and children like more than me. She is irresistible, which makes going through a 50-gallon drum of Resolve carpet cleaner every three days more tolerable. I even made it through her first trip to the vet last week, which reminded me that there’s truly no such thing as a “free” puppy. The vet assured me that he would only need to see her eight to ten more times in her first year of life. Oh, well, I’m just glad I’m able to help him with that new transmission for his Lamborghini.