The P Word

We have recently gotten a puppy, and I have discovered that on this subject, as on so many others, the world falls into two categories. There are the folks who don't know, and the folks who do know. When you say the word puppy to a member of the first, don't-know group, the person's face tends to get a dreamy, innocent look, as if you had announced that you were shortly to be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI.

But when you tell the folks who do know that you have recently bought a puppy, their response is more along the lines of, "Yeesh. How are you holding up?" To which the correct reply is a mild shrug and, "As well as can be expected." These are people who either have gotten a puppy recently or have gotten, over the years, many puppies. In other words, they remember.

Obviously, I love dogs, or I wouldn't have paid for a second one. But not unlike caring for an infant, caring for a puppy is a pain in the keister. Of course I know perfectly well that there are major differences between the two experiences. Things that are better about having a puppy: you can leave a puppy in a wire cage and go to a movie (BIG difference); a puppy will eventually learn to poop outside; you do not have to start a college fund; eventually, you will have a dog.

Things that are better about having a baby: eventually you will have a person.

But then, as I always tell my children, anything worth doing is a pain in the keister, and the more worth doing it is, the bigger a pain it is. This list would include learning to play the harmonica, traveling to India, getting and staying married, building a boat, planting a garden, writing a book, keeping a friend, and, of course, raising a child. And if I am right about this, I can only deduce that having a puppy is an extremely worthwhile endeavor.