The child certainly can’t read. And they’ve only begun saying words you can almost understand. “Mama.” “Da-da.” “Bye-bye.” You know, the cute standard stuff all parents interpret as a sign of “scholarship material.”
Until one day, when the child stands up in the crib and announces in perfect diction, “I want a puppy.”
“What the hell did he say?” you ask your wife.
“It sounded like, ‘I want a puppy.’” She says.
“Yeah. Well, okay. That’s what I heard. But…”
But nothin’, my friend. You’ve just been marked.
So, you both warm up to the idea, and begin picturing how the baby and dog will rest with you in the chair to watch television. And how excited the dog will be to greet you at the door. And the fun you’ll have watching “Punkin’” play with the children and join you for long walks through the neighborhood. And what a rush it will be when you and your son watch “King” get on point to flush a covey of quail. And all the tremendous joy you’ll have making the dog a true “member of our family.”
So, you look at each other, and she says, “Pekinese,” just as you say, “Golden Retriever.”
“I’m sorry,” you ask, “But, did you say ‘Pekinese?”
“And did you say ’Golden Retriever?”
So, you end up going to a Rescue Shelter adopting a “mix” that might end up weighing “somewhere between 20 and 80 pounds,” and naming him “King Punkin’.” Or just “Punkin’,” for short.
There, that was easy.
Now, we need to stop at the pet store. Where the staff considers the term, “We have a new puppy,” as being synonymous with “Hi, we’re millionaire crack addicts.” Where the young lady who waits on you rubs her hands together, giggles, and says, “Punkin’! Oh, that’s adorable! I’ve never heard that name before!” Really?
Then she walks you down each aisle going, “P-s-s-s-s=t! My man! You’re going to need a box of these ‘Bully sticks.’ And this big comfy bed. And no dog is really happy without a red sweater. And you have to give him vitamins! I mean. You take vitamins, right? And right over here…” It’s now $457 later, and you’re headed home to show the dog just how wonderful his life is going to be.
The first few nights are difficult because of all the whining, crying and begging you hear, until you ultimately turn to your wife and say, “Fine. Dry your tears and take him out of the cage and bring him in bed with us.”
Turns out this may be the best thing that happens for quite some time to come.
After six months, “Punkin’ weighs 53 pounds and has a hearty appetite to match his highly efficient digestive system. And while he delights at chewing up his food, doggy toys, and is “so great with the baby,” he also demonstrates a real resistance to housebreaking, and discerning actual doggy toys from shoes, furniture and, oddly enough, your wife’s clothes.
Maybe, it’s time to for another visit to the vet.
Now, after Punkin’ has terrorized every other animal in the clinic, you’re taken into an exam room to hear the verdict. “Well,” the doctor begins, “He’s quite a lively one isn’t he?”
“Yeah,” you chuckle, “lively. And lively is fine. Cujo was lively. I get that. But, what about the potty in the house, chewing things up, humping legs, getting on furniture? How can we stop all that?”
“Well, first of all,” you’re instructed, “you need to realize that when Punkin’ goes potty in the house and does all those other things -- that’s your fault. You clearly have not learned his signals for needing to go out. And it’s exactly the same with his chewing things other than his toys. You have to set a good example and you have allowed him to view those behaviors as acceptable.”
Twenty minutes and $130 later, you’re sitting in the car wondering, “What the hell just happened?” You drive home and are immediately asked by your wife, “Okay. How did it go at the vet?”
“I’m not exactly sure,” you respond, “But it appears, I’m the problem.”
“Let me ask you something,” you say. “In all the years we’ve been together, have you ever known me to just saunter into the living room, squat down, and leave a steamer on the carpet? Seriously. Have you? I’ll admit the dog has seen me on the toilet, so maybe I should throw him in our bathroom along with a copy of “Bones-n-Bitches” and see what happens.
“And, what about this? With Lassie as my witness, have I ever chewed up any shoes, furniture or your clothes? I mean, you know I’m rayon-intolerant. I simply wouldn’t do that.”
You stop to take a breath and realize your wife has quietly picked up the baby and is starting to back slowly away from you. “Of course, dear,” she says calmly, “I understand.”
“And come on, hey,” you continue, now fully on a roll, “When’s the last time you saw me hump someone’s leg. Or… Or, greet a neighbor by crouching down and sniffing his or her butt. Or how about, walking into the center of a party and licking my balls? Or having someone take a family portrait and then needing to photo shop my “red rocket” out of the picture? Well, have you?
“I mean, I’m not saying I wouldn’t do some of those things. Especially, the sniffing and licking skills. But, overall, no. I just don’t do that!”
At that point, you stop talking, drop your head to your chest and hope for a kind, reassuring word of support from the wife. Instead, you hear the garage door going up, and realize she’s taking the baby and seeking refuge at her mother’s house. “Now what?” you wonder. “Could things get any worse?”
When, suddenly, out of nowhere, Punkin’ walks up to you, and in his mouth he has a leash and a plastic bag. He then walks to the door and looks at you as if to say, “Come on, Buddy. We don’t need them. Let’s go find a neighbor we don’t like and poop in their yard. Are you with me on this?”
“Every step o’ the way,” you declare. “Every step ’o the way.”
How about that.