THEY ONLY HAVE
TO LOOK CUTE
"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
"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
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the newspaper, the kids who have not yet been replaced by dogs continue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.