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And They Call It Puppy Love

"Good fences make good neighbors" wrote Robert Frost.  Well, what do you do if you don't have a fence, and all the bushes on the perimeter have died because of the salt water?  And what do you do if your bad next door neighbor happens to have children who are heroin addicts and are either dealing or buying from their house?

You get a puppy.  One that will grow up to be a B-I-G dog.


I didn't start out with the intention of getting a watchdog.  I just wanted a dog...any dog.  A few years ago, Wingman and I decided that it was finally time to get another one since it had been over a decade since our last dog died at the ripe old age of 14 1/2. He had cataracts and hip displacement, and it took a lot of effort to get him outside to do his business towards the end.  Most times, as I carried him outside, he was peeing which meant changing whatever I was wearing.  Wingman was the one who took him to be put down, and it was very hard on him.  He vowed that he would never do that again, but I convinced him that our empty nest needed a dog.

Anyway, it was the year that son #1's Korean fiance was staying with us while she studied English.  She was terribly homesick, and we thought that it would be the perfect time to get one for all of us.  Unfortunately, the SPCA though otherwise, and turned us down for adoption.  Their reason: the dog would have separation anxiety when she went back to Korea.  So I waited until the following summer and applied myself through a rescue site.  Hmmm...no, I don't have a fenced in yard.  No, I do not stay home all day-I have to work.  No, I do not currently have another pet for company for the rescue.  Three strikes-DENIED AGAIN.  I found myself thinking it was a good thing I gave birth naturally or I may never have had kids.

In hindsight, it was probably a good thing that we didn't get another dog at that time.  With Wingman dying, the house flooding and me losing my job, it would have been a struggle all the way around for both son #3 and I and the dog.  Last Thursday, as he raked the yard and I watched two carloads of people sitting in front of the bad neighbor's house waiting for God-knows-what, I raised the idea again of giving him a puppy for Christmas and he was all for it. On Friday night, as two cops removed a girl in handcuffs from the house next door, I knew we weren't going to wait any longer.

I know people will be all over me for buying a puppy, but really guys, we tried to adopt.  I took bags of towels to the SPCA at 11:30 one day and tried to see the puppies, but they wouldn't let me in before noon...it wasn't convenient for them.  I searched rescue agencies who were all heavy in pitbull mixes.  It just wasn't the pet we wanted.  In the end, we found Bill in Lancaster who had a litter of German Shepherds just eight weeks old, and we drove out to see them on Tuesday.

Bill brought us two males.  One had a 'tude-he got up and walked away from us and around the barn like he owned the place.  The other one was shaking and didn't want to leave whoever was holding him.  Son #3 chose that one, saying he needed my son just like the little Christmas tree needed Charlie Brown.  He named him Dexter after his favorite TV serial killer.  Such a great name for the dog that will eventually protect us and the house.

Dexter is already 17 pounds and now rules the lower level. His cage is as big as a small condo.  He has chicken feet and pig's ears, and all the right toys all over the floor.  His food is organic-a far cry from the cheap cans of Alpo and dry food we fed our last dog. He's nipping at everything and everyone and I've already laid down the law that the first teethmarks in the new furniture will find him gumming his food the rest of his life.

But he has us smiling and talking to him in voices two octaves higher than we talk to each other.  And for the first time in a very long time, there's someone there who is really glad to see us when we come home. 

The bad neighbor may not be so happy in the future.





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