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The Negotiation

August 20, 2012

‘Isn’t she cute? Grandma, will you buy her…please?’ Nine year old Elaine pleaded.

That’s how it all started…a call from a granddaughter, and a photo of the cutest puppy ever sent to my cell phone. I was in love. Puppy love. Literally. And Elaine knew it.

I just had to work out the details, like how I was going to convince my husband that we needed a new puppy. Since we already had two dogs, I thought that might be a tough sell. And I was right. I thought about letting Elaine work on him. But I decided to save her for later…she was my secret weapon.

‘Just look at her, isn’t she cute?’ I mimicked the child as I shoved my cell phone in his face. ‘I want her.’

Now, for some reason, Jim insisted on discussing unimportant details like why we needed another dog…we already had two. Now, in my defense, I never said I needed another dog. Need has nothing to do with it. Want is a different matter entirely. And why? Why ask why? In situations like this it’s just not important . Let’s just stick to the facts here. Like when we’re picking her up.

But no, he wanted to talk about why. Hmmph.

‘Let me explain,’ I say…‘What do you mean why? The way I look at it, the why of it isn’t important. It can’t be explained. It has no answer…so why waste time.

I want a puppy…and want is just something that is. It doesn’t have to make sense. Like I said, it just is. I have given this a lot of thought. I’ve thought about it for six months. I’ve been there…I’ve asked myself why…that’s how I found out why doesn’t matter. I’ve told myself that it doesn’t make sense…I’ve tried to ignore it. But it just won’t go away. And I can’t ignore it anymore. I want a puppy.’

Jimbo looks skeptical, here. I’m not sure he’s buying this.

I mean, I don’t question him…too much. Like maybe why he needs so much taxidermy hanging in the house. I mean, who really needs the heads of 5 or 6 whitetail deer, an antelope, a mule deer, and a couple of bear on the walls. Not to mention a bear rug or the elk hide. And fish. We have three walleyes on the wall. Okay, two of the fish are mine, but the biggest one is his. And my fish don’t take up much wall space. Okay, his doesn’t either, but they are taxidermy.

I don’t get that. Dead animals on the walls. But it makes sense to him. Why can’t he just go with the flow here…he collects dead animals; I prefer live ones. Simple. I think.

At least I’m sticking to one species. I don’t want cats or birds; fish or turtles; nothing exotic like a ferret or a pot-bellied pig. I want just one more very adorable puppy. The other dogs will adjust. I’m sure of it. And maybe they’ll be better off for it. They’re really shy and skittish. I think the new pup will help them come out of their shells.

This one isn’t a Pomeranian, like the others…or the four ‘old girls’ who preceded this younger generation. Why not try a different breed? Poms aren’t the only breed on the planet. And this one actually is one quarter Pom. So it’s not a totally different…well, maybe the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Poodle parts are, but there’s a little Pom in her, too. Okay, I admit, this is a weak argument, but it’s the best I can think of at the moment. I’m making this up as I go along…judging by his facial expressions, he‘s not impressed.

‘Think of the memories we’ll make with the grandkids?’ I say. ’They’ll always remember finding us a puppy. Think of what that would have been like, if you’d found your grandparents a puppy. What a wonderful childhood memory. It’ll be fun. You’ll see.’

His face sags, and I know I’ve won. But, I’m human and my conscience gets the better of me.. I know I’ve played hard-ball and I’m feeling a tiny twinge of guilt., So I offer a compromise. ‘How about if we take her on a trial basis…maybe if she doesn’t work out in a month we’ll find her another home. How about that?’

‘I suppose,’ he mumbles, and I do a mental pirouette. It wouldn’t be pretty if I tried to do a real one, and I’d probably get hurt. Too risky…I’ll stick to imaginary pirouettes. It’s safer.

We met the grandkids and their parents in town the following day and picked up Heidi. That was the name that came to mind the first time I saw her picture. I entertained other suggestions for names. All perfectly good ones; the kids suggested ‘Spot’, since she had big black spot on her right side. Someone else thought of Rocky. That would fit, but it sounded a little too masculine for my girl. The name Heidi just stuck in my head, so Heidi she was. And she took to her name quickly. Just like she would take to everything else, as I soon learned.

She’d lay in my lap and suck my thumb. Pretty much every day. She never bit, just lightly sucked my thumb or forefinger while she slept. Aww…my heart just melted. She never did that with Jim, just me. We were bonding.

I’d learned from the Dog Whisperer on the National Geographic channel how to establish dominance and I got to try it out on Heidi. I let her know I was the Alpha in the house by laying her on her back and holding her there until she relaxed and made eye contact with me. It didn’t take long before she ‘got it.’

And, on day 29 of Heidi’s 30 day probation, she jumped up onto Jim’s lap, her rope in her mouth. She stood with her hind legs on his lap and the front ones on his chest. She cocked her head to the right and stared right into his heart. ‘How can I not like you? I have tried!’ He cried. ‘I guess she can stay.’

Heidi is such a happy pup…she just loves to play. Chasing a ball is a favorite pastime for her. And she knows which toy is her ball. And her bear, monkey, bunny, squeaker, rope, pillow, bone, cow, shark and antler. It’s quite entertaining to watch her look for a specific toy. She stands on her hind legs in front of the couch and recliners, looking for the toy in question. Then, she starts searching the floor…behind the chairs and couch, and then moves on into the kitchen and dining room, her nose to the floor. Sometimes, she’ll pass the right toy by, only to come back to it a minute later, grab it and shake the dickens out of it.

She can be hard on her toys. I suppose that’s her hunting instincts that come through the Spaniel in her bloodline. Her cow is down to three legs, no tail and only one nostril. It’s also missing it’s horns and one ear. But she loves it, so I keep patching it back together…telling myself that it’s cheaper than buying a new one.

And I’ve recovered her pillow more than once. As I sew a new cover, she sits on the floor, next to me and whines softly until she gets her precious pillow back.

Now Spaniels are high energy dogs. It didn’t take long to learn that. And as a result, I’m getting a lot more exercise, too. Not losing weight, but building muscle, and that’s more important, or so I’ve heard.

That extra energy has to come out somehow…and we’ve learned to take her for a walk before we leave. I have less mending to do that way. She doesn’t chew on the woodwork or anything, but she sure attacks her toys and dog bed!


  1. Any chance you need ANOTHER dog in your life? I’ll give you a great deal on a used Rat terrier. As a matter-of-fact, I’ll pay to to take him! Jim must need another male in the house. And he is black and white and will blend in with the other dogs.

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