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Small Wonders: The puppy chronicles

January 20, 2012|By Patrick Caneday

It's not that I didn't want a puppy. Just that I was reluctant, concerned about the responsibility and nightly barking. And available space in our ever-shrinking house. And the mess. And what would happen if it ever got out the front door and into the big, scary world on its own.

Yet we've somehow managed to survive human children despite these same fears. Besides, I am outnumbered in my home, three to one. So last spring during a temporary parental vacation from sanity, we brought home not one, but two, puppies; the thresholds for love and pain being sides of the same coin, who's counting?

We got them from a “rescue,” though I use the term loosely. The only thing puppies as cute as these needed rescuing from was overexposure from “Your Daily Dog” Facebook posts or cuddle asphyxiation by overzealous kids.

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The drive home with the pups was not unlike the drive home from the hospital the day either of my daughters was born. Glassy-eyed parents wondering what the hell they'd just gotten themselves into; mystified that anyone would trust them to keep anything more than a houseplant alive; the smell of urine wafting from the backseat as we tried to come up with just the right name.

Mortitia? Beelzebub? Abstinence? Deduction? Pimple?

We made it easy on ourselves with the daughters: Thing 1 and Thing 2. So we let them pick the names.

The black and white terrier bore a striking resemblance to a Lilliputian Claude Rains as Captain Renault in “Casablanca,” mixed with the madcap exuberance of Salvador Dali. Isabella, Izzy for short, she was christened by Thing 1. And the world is her salt lick.

The russet-colored, marshmallow-breasted shepherd was barely able to stand on her own four feet. Perhaps because it was her favorite soda in the brief lifetime of a child's whim, Thing 2 dubbed her Dr. Pepper. But since the name comes with no advertising revenue (I checked), we just call her Pepper.

The pups still, these many months later, have permanent smiles on their smug little snouts; their very presence in our home is a practical joke at my expense.

The best advice I got from the pet shop clerk on Day 1 when I wandered in, dazed and confused, with nary a Milk-Bone in our house: Crate the puppies. Had we crated Thing 1 at night when we brought her home, the wife and I might not have had to abandon our apartment's sole bedroom to her and sleep on a futon in the living room.

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