"Go to Daddy," says my wife in a sing-song voice she saves only for the precious one. "Mommy doesn’t want to play with you right now."
    I’m on the other side of the room, reading the newspaper. Not only do I not want to play at the moment, but I also don’t want to be called "Daddy."
    I look down at the furry little thing now staring up at me, waiting to be entertained. With four legs, a tail and a face that is clearly not human, it’s pretty obvious I had nothing to do with its conception.
   "Daddy won’t play with you?" my wife coos as she flashes me the incompetent parent look and places a toy in front of our little charge. "Daddy doesn’t love you."
   Daddy has had enough. "IT’S A DOG," I cry, as gently as I can muster. "I’M NOT HER DADDY."
   Actually, she’s a puppy, 11 weeks old. Our oldest child just went off to college, leaving the nest, and we felt compelled to replace her with something. So we got a puppy, but to our credit resisted the temptation to name her after our college-bound daughter.
   The transition from child to dog has not been easy for my wife, but the positives have far outweighed the negatives. Having another dependent in the house has allowed her to fire up the maternal instincts that she feared would be gone for good as the children began leaving the nest.
    For instance, while our daughter was thoroughly potty trained, the new puppy is not. This provides an enormous challenge for all of us, especially my wife, who in the few short weeks we have had the puppy, has managed to read 17 books on how to housebreak your dog.
    None of which, I might add, work. At 11 weeks old, you could offer your puppy a lifetime supply of beef jerky if she would do her business outside, and it wouldn’t matter. She’s going to go when she’s gotta go, and she doesn’t really care where.
    And does she ever have to go. Our life now revolves around the puppy’s, shall we say, movements, which seem to occur every five minutes or so.
    "SHE’S SNIFFING!" my wife will scream as the puppy’s nose begins a precipitous drop toward the carpet. "QUICK, SOMEBODY GET HER OUTSIDE."
    The house then springs into action. I continue reading the newspaper, the kids who have not yet been replaced by dogs continue watching television, and my wife frantically scoops up the puppy and transports her outside, where my wife spends the next ten minutes or so chanting the command "Hurry Up" (Book Number Seven) to entice the puppy to do her thing, which she has no intention of doing until she gets back inside.
    The Commander, as we now call my wife, becomes exasperated at times with the constant failure of her boot camp training. So after the fourteenth "accident" of the day, I suggest we take the little pup out in public.
    It works every time. Just when the Commander is ready to have a bonfire of dog training books and pamphlets, we are reminded of what puppies do best---look cute.
    You can’t walk 10 feet in public without being stopped with an "OOOOOOH, A PUPPY, HOW CUUUUUTE!"
    Ours happens to be an all-black Pug puppy, with the squishy face, and we’re thinking of renting her out to singles looking for a magnet to attract a mate. Hold the puppy in your arms and all kinds of people, some welcome, some not, will nuzzle up to you. No matter how shy you are, it’s difficult to avoid a conversation.
    People will gush and gush and gush. They’ll tell you how beautiful she is, how soft she is, how her temperament is perfect, how lucky we are. Then some will ask to hold her and we’ll let them, praying she doesn’t have an accident. (If I’m particularly worried, I’ll say "Hurry Up," knowing that will stifle her).
    And so far, no accidents in other people’s adoring arms. It makes a Daddy proud.

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