Puppies don’t grow on trees. I was disappointed to discover this, especially since I’ve spent countless hours burying other people’s puppy’s in my back yard. In my heart I always knew a puppy grove was unrealistic, but I figured nature owed me at least a puppy shrub. I was once known as the greatest human enemy of man’s best friend, so my transition from dog hater to dog owner was filled with just enough hypocrisy to make me an excellent candidate for president. Much like original sin and the invention of table coasters, my new status as a pet owner can be blamed entirely on a woman. My wife and I were in a frighteningly rundown furniture store two weeks ago looking for a dining room table when Lola wandered out of my line of sight. Moments later, she called out my name. I assumed she’ d found something relatively harmless, like rapist or a cobra with AIDS, so I took my time making my way to her position. When I finally reached her, I was horrified to discover the one thing guaranteed to ruin our way of life: a pile of baby wiener dogs. Cuteness, like earthquakes and hurricanes, can be measure on an empirical scale according to its strength. That mound of two-week-old dachshunds registered a 9.2, which is powerful enough to burn through steel. There’s a reason diamond-tipped saws are being phased out in favor of pictures of kittens in most heavy industries. That mound of miniature canines hit Lola with a flamethrower of adorableness, burning down any hope I had of living a dog-free existence. It was impossible to talk Lola out of her puppy lust, and it was too late to hit her with an AIDS-infected cobra. One way or another, we were going to get a dog. I grudgingly accepted my fate and began researching which breeds of dogs have the shortest life span.Dachshunds are considerably less cute as adults.
The dachshunds were free and poorly engineered, making them an excellent pet by my Machiavellian criteria, but Lola thought zero dollars was too much to pay for an animal that wouldn’t survive more than three minutes in our house. The breed’s elongated spine bends unnaturally when it goes up stairs, creating a very real risk that the animals can snap in half. Our house is comprised of nothing but stairs, save for the occasional hallway that leads to yet more stairs, and I had no intention of spending my days caring for a pack of paralyzed wiener dogs. Dachshunds were officially ruled out as a viable pet candidate, hilarious though their paraplegic presence in our house might have been.
Having been thus thwarted in our first attempt at dog acquisition, Lola and I began researching dog breeds on the internet. My criteria were simply: I wanted something lazy that didn’t shed and could be trained to use a litter box. Essentially I wanted a slow-moving pillow that pooped. I wasn’t crazy about the pooping part either, but I figured I had to make some compromises since the surgery to sew shut a canine anus is very expensive. The only breed that met our criteria was the Miki, an animal created by a breeder who failed to take any genealogical notes. There is no universal definition of what a Miki should be, so breeders who claim to be selling that particular type of animal could actually be offering anything from a discolored poodle to a small horse. The only characteristic Mikis have in common is their price; they can’t be purchased with anything less than a home equity loan or a winning lottery ticket. As usual, I decided to save money by buying non-name brand. We found a woman who breeds something practically identical to Mikis, only with a different muzzle and known parentage. It would take me days to describe exactly what breeding goes into them, but suffice it to say that if there was an orgy attended by every small, yappy dog on the planet, our puppies would be the result.Sometimes selective breeding creates a beautiful animal. Other times it results in a dog with a second head on its butt. I don't know which option is better, but I certainly know which one is cheaper.
I’ve never been a huge fan of dogs, but it still made sense for Lola and I to buy two puppies rather than one. That way there’s not as much pressure to feed them; if I forget to fill their bowl, one dog can just eat the other. It also made sense from a sociological perspective to buy multiple puppies. Dogs, like children, can raise each other if trapped in the same cage for a long enough period of time. This would be the perfect strategy if our dogs didn’t whine at a pitch somewhere between chirping birds and prehistoric animals. If you’ve heard the noise those small , carnivorous dinosaurs make in Jurassic Park II, then you’ve already vicariously experienced one of the joys of owning my dogs. I’m not against whining in general because it’s the main way I communicate with my wife. My main problem with the dogs whining is that the only thing they want is for me to pay attention to them, which is unfortunate because I wanted a non-shedding, litter box-trained dog specifically so I could ignore it from the moment we bought it until the moment I used it to plant a new puppy shrub in our backyard. The dogs don’t want me to play with them, either. I tried chasing them earlier today and I think I caused one of them to have a mild stroke. The dogs simply want me to be in the same room as them, indicating that they’ve formed a bond with me after being in our house for less than forty-eight hours. This was expected since a dog is essentially a friend you can buy, but these dogs are even less discerning than most in how they allocate their affection. The woman we bought them from warned us that they’re very easy to steal since they’ll gladly hop in a stranger’s car and ride away with them. In essence, that’s what they did when they piled into a vehicle with Lola and I for our trip halfway across the Midwest. The dogs might be vulnerable to thieves, but at least I know that if necessary I can always steal two of their kind more to replace them.Puppies have two modes: pooping and searching for another place to poop. It only took our dogs two days to figure out how to use the lines on the dining room carpet to play bingo with their own droppings.
Although they are highly replaceable, I’ve grown rather attached to these puppies – who we named Spencer and Niko – but that attachment lasts only as long as one or both of them isn’t pooping on my floor. On a good day, that means I can only like them in thirty-second bursts. Spencer uses a litter box when he’s in his cage, but he’s made it readily apparent that he much prefers my hardwood floors as his fecal dumping ground. Niko, who is the alpha dog, shuns all pretenses and simply holds it until I let him out of his cage. The fact that he only expels waste when it can somehow damage my house is a testament to his incredible bladder control. Lola is in Washington, D.C., this week on a work-related trip, so right now it’s just me and the two puppies in the house. I’m not worried about the responsibility since there’s virtually no way I can lose. If the dogs stay alive it will prove that they’re impossible to kill, so I’ll never have to bother caring for them again. If the opposite proves to be the case, I’ll have yet another chance to establish that illusive puppy grove in my backyard.