Straight-jacket…Please!


I AM insane. I must be. I need to enroll in one those clinical trials for the new crazy person med. Why you ask? Well…here’s the low-down. The confessional. I have a woman in my house that is seven months pregnant, and a dog that helps make my day already full. That should be enough for any man…right? Apparently it’s not for me because we have gone and gotten another dog. Oh…the shame!

A little over two weeks ago we were enjoying a late summer evening, when we spot a small dog across the street. It’s not new for a stray Fido from someone’s yard to be prowling about, but this one we hadn’t seen before. Now begins the perfect storm. The dog wanders over, tail wagging furiously, and we see that she is just a puppy. Few months old at best guess, she resembles our Maggie, except for the fact that she is all black. It is apparent right away that she has been outside for a while. She has nothing over the dockworkers in downtown Baltimore in terms of smell. Her coat looks musty, but her teeth are clean, nothing that a bath couldn’t fix. I’m hesitant to let her near my pregnant other as you never know what a dog has in its arsenal, both temperament and bacterial.

“What are we going to do?” she says, and I can already spot that “look” in her eyes.

“I’m doing nothing.” I say, resolute in my false machismo that another animal in the house will upset the domestic balance.

‘Well, we can’t do nothing.”

We certainly can. I talk her and Maggie, our three-year old Lab-Shepard mix, into the house and close the door, praying my conscience quits bothering me. I wake up the next morning to find that the dog decided to take one of my outside shoes as a souvenir, rendering the shoe and the term “pair” useless. I already know that this dog will haunt me from a distance. I just pray that it’s not too long. As I’m outside, mourning the loss of my shoe, the wind and the rain begin to roll in courtesy of our new friend Fay. Four days of solid rain, we need it, and it washes away the memories of our little thief.

Maggie is pent up after four days of rain, and we begin to rethink Seattle as a possible permanent destination. I take her out and round our usual corner to find that we have come snout to snout with the shoe thief. She is bounding and happy to see us, and in my mind I wish she were Cujo.

My heart and conscience can take mo more, and starts to wag war on my common sense. We call the number for the adoption agency where we obtained Maggie, and they tell us that she must go to the pound first, as they cannot accept any direct strays. The pound is open till 6 p.m., it is now 4:10 p.m. We load her in the truck, and begin the ride find this dog her fate.

“I can’t take her to the pound”, she says, and the “look” makes an encore appeal.

“Yeah, I’m not too crazy about it either, but what can we do?” I’m rapidly talking myself into the inevitable.

She grabs her phone from her purse, and proceeds to dial. A co-worker lost their dog a couple of months back, and she thought that they may be in the market for a new pet, thief though it may be. Watch your shoes, I think. I loved those shoes. We go past the pound for the moment, as the co-worker is, at least, in the mind to take a look at the dog.

Then…I make the gravest of mistakes. I look down to see this dog’s floppy ears draped across the belly of my pregnant love, and I’m hooked. Her solid black nose letting out the lightest of wheezes, and she is at rest. The visit to the co-worker becomes just a formality, an excuse to pass the time till 6 p.m. comes and goes.

The myriad of rationalities pour out of us like children justifying a trip to Disney World to blindsided parents.

“It will be a great companion for Maggie” I say.

“Yes, especially with the baby coming! It will hopefully ease her jealousy.”

Or double it.

And that’s when you cross the line between border-line bonkers and full-blown wackiness. Bring on the white suits and the straight-jacket. Nurse Ratchet never looked so hot.

“Well, we need a name, right?” she says with shoulders hunched up. “I like ‘Blackie’.”

“Oh! What about Negrodogmus?!” I feel especially proud that this dog has not made a dent in my creative streak.

Then…we remembered we live in the South. Maybe we should just go with a literary name. One we can both agree on.

Zooey.

That’s the ticket.

A trip to the vet and she checks out fine, along with a six-month supply of heart-worm medicine. The first few days are murder. I don’t know what the blanket word for dog murder is, but “canineocide” crosses my mind. My saving grace is the Bissell Little Green Machine that I purchased when Maggie was a puppy. If they ever make one just for babies…I’m buying stock.

I feel like a battered pitcher who can’t seem to find the strike zone. Every pitch is a grapefruit and every batter swings a Fat Albert. The light at the end of the tunnel is fading and I’m thinking about digging a new tunnel. This dog seems to have an endless supply of pee and shit.

Bring on the parenting.

Then…it happens. It is late at night and my love rises up on her elbows from the couch.

“Have we had an accident today?”

I groan. She’s jinxed us. Doesn’t she know that there is a reason that baseball players sit on the other side of the dugout when a pitcher is throwing a no-hitter into the ninth inning? No one talks to him. No one mentions the game. I’m an island, and she’s just parked her boat on my beach. We lose the no-hitter that night thanks to a late rally, but we win the game with just one error. Over the course of the next four days we pitch four straight no-hitters, and the “player to be named later” has her stock rising on the team.

Two weeks have now passed, and she’s still a puppy. A better puppy, but none the less still a puppy. She’s part of the brood now, taking her naps in Maggie’s warm belly, the two of them looking like Yin and Yang. We’ve expanded our family by one, with one more to be added. Life is good. Life is sweet. And I am insane…happily.

Now I wonder if she can remember where she took my shoe.