Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How We Got a Dog We Already Had

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

How We Got a Dog We Already Had

Article excerpt

Here's a famous old saying I just made up that goes, "into every life, a little dog must fall." And Charlie is the dog that fell into our lives. It was inevitable, I suppose. First comes love, then comes marriage, then children, then a house with a small backyard. It all points inexorably toward one goal: the acquisition of a pet.

Granted, I stalled for as long as I possibly could, using all the standard excuses: new carpets; too much responsibility for small children; what if we go on vacation. But eventually the kids and the carpets got older, and we never go on vacation anyway. When our youngest daughter started capturing caterpillars and giving them names like Wendell and Fuzzy, well, I knew the jig was up.

So like any self-respecting, cautious couple, my husband and I did research, which meant standing in one of those mega-bookstores for half an hour, leafing through the "pets" section. I found a paperback called "Finding the Right Dog for You" and skipped to the part about the best breeds for young children, cross-referencing with dogs that don't shed. I came up with a small and unattractive list of dogs. I won't mention any names. Some of you may already own these dogs, even love them. I didn't. But then I saw the name of a dog I'd never heard of before: a Border terrier. Well sure, I knew from terriers, but the "border" business caught my eye. So did the picture. This dog looked as though he belonged in the section titled "Mutts and Mixed Breeds." I read on. Turns out the Border terrier is the 67th most popular dog in the country. I liked this fact. Turns out they're great with kids, don't shed, and are very smart. So we bought a book on terriers, contacted the American Kennel Association, found out how to reach the Border Terrier Association, and received a nationwide list of accredited Border terrier breeders. We said nothing to the kids. Having made the decision to call only those within driving distance of us - although I've heard of cases where people actually have their pets flown in from the far reaches of the globe (go figure) - my list of possible breeders was short. The first two had no dogs available. The third one was in Connecticut, one state away, but only an hour's drive, so I allowed for the possibility of crossing state lines for a pet purchase. After all, many people drive from Connecticut to New York and back on a daily basis. But that's another essay. The woman who answers the phone says she has two dogs available, a nine-month-old girl named Daisy and a two-year-old boy named Charlie. The word "puppy" is never mentioned, which is good because the last thing I want is a puppy. She also proceeds to grill me, politely, about why I want this particular breed. Actually, she asks the questions and then answers them. …

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