Chapter 26 2004 - 1985

“I think it’s time to revisit the ‘no dogs’ policy,” I stated resolutely. “We haven’t had a dog since 1985. You know how much I’ve always wanted another. Fido was my best friend.”

“Fido also bit our new baby daughter,” Angela accused. “Or have you forgotten? She spent two days in the hospital at Christmas, and that’s why we have a ‘no dogs’ policy.”

”But there are no babies in the house anymore, Chrissy’s 18, the twins are 14. You know how Tyler has always kept asking. He needs a best friend, just like my dad had with Greta, just like I had with Fido.”

“You had Fido for two years. How could he have been your best friend?”

“Two years is fourteen dog years. Do you know how many best friends I had in fourteen years?”

“As I recall, none.”

I, stung, countered “That’s what dogs are for!”

“No…”, she began firmly, then relented. “OK, we’ll think about getting another dog.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that, because I have a big surprise. Tyler!”

Tyler entered the room, carrying a puppy.

“You already have the dog? I thought we were going to think about it? You didn’t even consult me?”

“Look into his eyes, how can you say no to that?”

Angela had to admit she was touched by the large sad eyes of the puppy, and it melted her heart on the spot. She reached out a hand to pet him, and the puppy took a small nip.

“Did he just bite me? What did I tell you?”

“That wasn’t a bite, that was a playful nip. That’s what puppies do.”

“Well, we will want to ‘nip’ that in the bud. I do not want that to develop into a habit.”

“Bud! That’s a great name. Hey, Bud! What do you think?” He patted Bud on the head.

“Bud? Buddy’s my dad’s name. Why did you name him after my dad?”

“It’s Bud, not Buddy. Big difference.”

Tyler put Bud down on the ground, and he started scampering around on the slick floor. As he slid into the table leg and came to a sudden stop, he whimpered a bit, and then squatted, leaving puddle on the ground.

“Oh, no!” Angela cried. “Are we going to have to deal with that as well?”

“That’s part of having a puppy. He’ll get housebroken.”

I grabbed a section of newspaper, and laid it out on the floor, then placed Bud squarely in the middle. “That’s where you do your business, boy.”

“I will not have him ‘do his business’ in the middle of the kitchen! Find someplace other to train him.”

With the mild weather, a corner of the garage was cleared to be the puppy’s own area. I set up a small barrier so that Bud wouldn’t have free roam, laid some newspaper in the corner for him to do his business, and bought a dog bed and some extra blankets to make him comfortable. A water and food bowl, and it was the perfect environment to raise a puppy.

The first night was rough. Bud yipped and cried all night, and no one in the house was able to sleep very well. I was up several times in the night to try to calm him, and once he quieted and I returned to bed, he started up again.

“We need to bring him in, he’s lonely out there”

“No dogs in the house!” Angela still wanted to fight her fight.

Bleary-eyed in the morning, the family dragged themselves out of bed. The puppy had finally fallen asleep. “Why couldn’t he have done that hours ago?” Angela complained. “It’s all your fault!”

“My fault! What did I do?”

“You brought him home.”

I conceded the point. “It will pass in a couple of days, I’m sure.”

The “couple of days” stretched to a week, and the family’s patience was stretched to the breaking point. Even I was having second thoughts.

“Maybe there is something wrong with him. I’m going to take him to the vet to have him checked out.”

I made an appointment and brought the puppy in. The vet checked him over. “There’s nothing wrong with him, but he does need to get his shots.”

While Bud took the first one in stride, the second made him wince with pain, and he nipped at the vet. “Bad dog!” I cried.

“It’s OK, that’s a normal reaction. That particular shot stings a bit.”

The vet continued to examine Bud, looking in his ears, taking a stool sample, checking his tiny teeth. “Everything checks out, though he probably will need some worm medicine. It common for all dogs.”

“Is that what’s keeping him crying all night?”

“No, he wouldn’t even notice it. What he needs is a companion. He’s lonely.”

“Lonely? The kids play with him all day long. He gets plenty of attention.”

“You say he only cries at night, right?”


“And he’s all alone?”


“Lonely. You may want to get a second dog.”

“Another dog? I had a hard time selling my wife on the one.”

“Tell her that it will actually be easier on all of you. It’s not double the effort, the dogs will keep each other entertained, and you will get some rest.”

“Rest would be nice.”

Angela was surprisingly receptive to the idea of getting another dog, and Merry was ecstatic as well. “I want a girl dog!” she stated.

“A female might be a calming influence on Bud,” Angela mentioned. “Let’s go to the shelter and see what we can do.”

At the shelter, they were many dogs to choose from, but very few cute puppies. The best they could do was a one year old female who had been dubbed Pandora.

“Sounds ominous.”

The folks at the shelter ensured them that Pandora was gentle, and a very friendly dog. An older female would have a positive effect on Bud, and everybody’s life would be easier. Pandora joined the Mall household.

Bud and Pandora got along famously, and they enjoyed running in the yard, Tyler and Merry enjoyed having their own pets, and occasionally remembered their duties to feed, brush and clean up after them. When they did forget, Angela and I picked up the slack, and Angela grew to love the two animals. In 1985, Fido had been I’s dog, and Angela really didn’t want anything to do with him. But in 2004, Bud and Pandora were truly family dogs. They took them to obedience classes, where they learned to heel, perform some tricks, and become well-behaved members of the family. Angela had even mentioned that the dogs were better behaved that the children had been.

Occasionally, the dogs would bark at night, but a quick rebuke would calm them down quickly, and usually they would quiet on their own accord, without any intervention. One night, however, the dogs started making a racket and showed no signs of letting up. It was Chrissy’s turn to get them to settle, so she went outside and saw them coupled together, with Pandora wincing as if in pain. Trying to separate them to no avail, Chrissy realized what was happening. “Oh, gross!” she cried and ran into the house. “The dogs are doing it!” she exclaimed, crudely.

Tyler and Merry ran outside to see, and watched in fascination. “What are they doing?” Tyler asked, before realizing himself what he had already learned about. “Cool!” was his only reaction.

As Pandora’s pregnancy progressed over the next few weeks, she became more complacent, and tended to lay around lazily thoughout the day. Bud, still practically a puppy himself, tried to engage her in activities, but she would rather just take it easy and be waited on. To keep her comfortable, I asked Henry to help him built her a private shelter, in which she could escape Bud’s attention, and she even learned to pull the door closed to ensure her privacy. Though Bud would often bark to get her to pay attention to him, he gradually gave up, and found some other activity to entertain himself.

One morning the family heard more than just Bud’s barking, but a distinct set of crying, not unlike a baby’s cry. Going outside, they opened Pandora’s box and found six new little lives, connected to their mother, savoring their first meal.

Merry and Tyler got the naming job for the new pups.

Tyler was first. “This one is Samson, because he has such long hair.”

“This one is Princess, because she’s so pretty,” Merry offered.

“This one is Teddy, because he looks like a little Teddy bear.” Tyler named him, but Merry approved with an “Aww…”

“This little girl is Pepper, because she’s sprinkled with black.” As if confirming and accepting, the puppy sneezed.

“This one is Shadow, because he’s all black.” Tyler looked thoughtful, then said “Maybe he should be Ninja.” He thought some more. “No, Shadow,” he stated decisively.

“And this one is Morgan,” Merry stated.


“Yes, Morgan. She looks like a Morgan.”

“More like a Gorgon. I think I’ll call her Gorgon, instead.”

“I get to name her. You got your three.”

“OK. Morgan,” then he snickered under his breath “Gorgon.”

The new family of eight continued to grow, and all of the problems of raising a puppy nine months earlier returned, but with mom and dad taking charge, the puppies were kept a little more obedient and less disruptive than their father had been. When they had reached six weeks old, the reality had to be faced: finding homes for them. “We went from no dogs to eight dogs, and we just can’t keep up with them all,” Angela advised. “I know it’s going to be tough, but we are going to have to send them out to some other families for them to enjoy.”

“Even Morgan?” a sad Merry cried. Morgan had become her favorite.

“Even Morgan. If we keep Morgan, then we have to keep Shadow as well. And four dogs is still more than two dogs. Two dogs is the limit.”

No matter the complaints coming from the twins, homes were found for each of them, with Morgan finding one with one of Merry’s friends. “See, you’ll be able to visit her often,” Angela offered as she wiped away Merry’s tear. “It will be like she never left.”

Despite Merry’s attachment to Morgan, Chrissy was even more despondent, given to fits of crying, anger and shifting moods more often than she changed clothes. Angela confronted her. “We still have Bud and Pandora, it’s not like were losing all of them.”

“It’s not the dogs, mom,” Chrissy started to cry. “I’m pregnant.”