Puppy Love: Heart-Stealing Dogs

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Reason 2

They make great coworkers.

I work from a home office, alone for hours every day, but I didn't get Clark because I was lonely. I got him because we'd promised our kids a puppy, and they insisted on choosing one themselves. Which is how I wound up with a rangy hound/shepherd/Lab mix who's tall enough on two legs to be a reasonable dance partner, and not the smaller, calmer female puppy I'd had in mind.

Not that Clark understood the family dynamic he'd entered, much less his failure to meet my expectations. From the beginning he has been my dog; the children merely competing pack mates. When I hug one of them, he inserts his gangly body between us and wedges the child away. He follows me everywhere, impatiently waiting outside the bathroom when I dare to close the door in his face.

For more than a year I lobbied for another dog because Clark dislikes separation so much that even the hour spent picking the kids up from school depressed him. Being left alone long enough for dinner and a movie could make him anxious for days, and weekends away were impossible. My husband, Haywood, finally relented. He figured we could either get another dog or never take another vacation.

And that's how we got Betty, the smaller female I had wanted to begin with, the yin to Clark's yang. It wasn't long before Betty, too, began to follow me to the bathroom. Apparently I'm an enabler for this pathology: The only "people" I have to talk to all day long are Clark and Betty, so I talk to them a lot, read drafts aloud to them, and they're the best kind of critic: enthusiastic, all pricked ears and wagging tails. Haywood calls them my colleagues.

Someone who doesn't spend the entire day alone in an office the size of a cupboard can't understand this connection. "You got your dog a puppy?" the UPS driver asked in disbelief when I introduced him to Betty.

"Clark was lonely," I said.

"But you're home all day long."

"We were both lonely," I had to admit.

"I decided to expand the staff."

-- By Margaret Renkl

Continued on page 3:  Reason 3


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