Let's talk about dogs for a moment. (I'll save cats for another time.)
I love dogs; I just haven't had very good luck with them. Our first dog when I was a kid was a mutt named Bobo. Don't ask me why his name was Bobo, because I have no idea. I hated this dog.
It wasn't the dog's fault; he was the victim of a tragic situation that changed him forever. At some point, Bobo got sprayed by a skunk. My mother had read somewhere that using turpentine to wash a dog will eliminate skunk odor. I don't know if it did or not … but it ruined Bobo.
Bobo's hair started falling out in clumps. He wasn't the best looking dog to begin, but now he looked like Bobo of the Zombie Apocalypse. What patches of hair he had left now had the texture of a Brillo pad, and when he got wet, it actually looked like his hair was going to rust. The whole thing creeped me out, and I was never able to warm up to Bobo after that. As I said, it wasn't the dog's fault … but I still couldn't handle it.
I had no more dogs until I got married in the early 1970s, at which time we got the cutest black lab puppy you've ever seen. At the time, Alex Haley's TV series Roots was on, and being the politically correct person that I am, I named our black lab Toby. Some of you will get this; some of you won't. I'm not explaining it.
The first time I let Toby loose in the house, he immediately ate all my shoes. I mean he chewed up every one. Okay, that was my fault for not keeping a close eye on him. Then, another time when I wasn't watching him, he chewed up the cushion on the couch and the chair in the living room. When he started chewing up my wife's stuff, Toby finally had to go. I found a wonderful couple who owned a farm in Pennsylvania, and off Toby went to live life large on the open range. That's really where Toby went but it occurs to me that's what we tell children when we have to get rid of a cherished pet.
A few years later, having forgotten the Toby experience, I decided to surprise my wife by bringing home a new puppy. This one was a harlequin Great Dane. If you're not familiar with them, they are gorgeous dogs … although they do grow rather large (think of the cartoon Marmaduke, and you're not far off). I called him Duke, and although he was only a puppy, he could look you straight in the eye if he stood on his hind legs and put his front paws on your shoulders. These dogs can grow to almost three feet high and weigh up to 200 pounds.
I brought Duke into the house to meet my wife, who was sitting in the living room … and six months pregnant. Upon seeing my wife, Duke got scared and turned to run out of the room. As he turned, he started to pee. He ran from the living room through the dining room and kitchen, and into our bedroom, peeing the entire time. Who knew a dog could have a bladder that big?
After I cleaned it all up, I suggested my wife get to know Duke by taking him for a walk. I put him on the leash and handed her the other end of it. As they started into the yard, Duke spotted the neighbor's cat and took off, dragging my pregnant wife on the ground behind him. She made me take him back to the breeder the next day. Bye, Duke.
That was the last time I tried to have a dog. I would love to have a dog now, but the Lovely Louise and I travel a lot, and that's difficult to do with a dog. The good news is that our oldest son has an absolutely stunning new black lab, and sometimes Dexter (yes, he's named after the serial killer on the TV show) gets left with us for some dog sitting. It's a lot like having grandchildren: I get to spoil him and play for a couple of hours, and then he goes home with his parents. Now that's the way to enjoy both dogs and grandchildren!