The decision to get a pet is something that takes a while to grow and flourish, especially after having to say goodbye to one. You don’t feel you’re ready to welcome in a new furry family member until a certain amount of time has passed and the emptiness you have that only a dog, cat or tamed skunk can fill expresses itself in certain ways like me having my 9-year-old stepdaughter, Emma, play fetch in the yard.
Yes, everyone in the house accepted it was time to adopt a new dog, and I made a deal with the gals that we would start looking right after our vacation, which means my wife checking social media before the vacation even started and showing me every dog that is available to adopt and pressuring me about it.
“We are leaving today,” I said. “I just packed the car.”
“Okay, I’ll just look for dogs out there,” she said, obviously not understanding the point of my words and neither did Emma, who pointed at every dog we saw during the vacation and subtly suggesting we kidnap those dogs from their owners.
There wasn’t even any rest from the search when we returned home because, after I melted in the couch, my wife started shoving photos of puppy litters in my face and then Emma elbowed me, pointing to the neighbor’s dog in the front yard and whispering, “They’ll never know…”
I couldn’t really blame Emma even though I normally try really hard to blame her for everything, but she’s a kid who wants a puppy to help fulfill the childhood dream of having a dog to grow up with, to love unconditionally back and forth and to also teach practical tricks like sit, stay, rollover, speak and fetch daddy a beer.
It just so happened I had family members whose dog had a litter of puppies that were 10 weeks old and ready for a new home.
With four to choose, Emma didn’t know what to say but, “I want them all — I don’t know! Too...much...cuteness... My head is gonna explode!”
I told her that it’s really not her who chooses the dog, it’s the dog who chooses his new family, but since the puppies wanted nothing to do with her, I secretly pushed one of them with my shoe so he would trip over Emma, and it was in that magic moment that we knew we found The One.
Emma wanted to name him Magic Rainbow Sprinkle Glitter or something like that, which would be fine if she actually achieved her dream of adopting a unicorn, but I had to remind her that I have to go to the vet, step up to the front desk and say as a grown man, “Yes, Magic Rainbow Sprinkle Glitter Hofmann is here for his deworming appointment.”
We eventually settled on the name Oreo because he’s black and white and you just want to eat him up and try to dip him in milk.
Actually, the dog probably thinks his name is “No Oreo What Are You Doing Stop Bad Dog Bad Dog What’s That Smell Stop Oreo” because the phrase has been uttered multiple times toward him since his arrival.
Anyway, on the drive home from picking up Oreo, Emma’s enthusiasm, let’s say, waned a bit as I imagine she was not expecting the puppy to be aggressive as he tried climbing all over her and constantly trying to lick and nibble at her face.
Moving the dog to the passenger seat of the car, I had to tell Emma she should expect the same behavior from those gross boys, which was yet another reason why she shouldn’t date until she was in her early to mid-thirties.
But as I was wrangling the puppy in the box with one hand while driving with the other hand, I was cursing that I didn’t have a free hand to stroke my beard to reflect on the fact that I haven’t had a puppy since the late 90s and forgot what to do with them.
Of course, there’s many things to consider like getting them house broken, make sure they don’t break things in the house, cage train them, getting all their required shots, getting them to stop biting, that they don’t hang out with a crowd of wolves and rebel against everything you raised them to be.
So, this first week, I’ve been learning, remembering and relearning what it’s all about and the psyche of puppies.
For example, I forgot that every playtime is a chance to lick face and bite nose, every walk is an adventure in trying to eat everything in sight and to not go to the bathroom until returning inside the house.
That being said, I’m loving every moment of it, and I’m sure there will be more moments to cherish and then exploit in this column.
So, welcome to the family, Oreo. Now fetch daddy a beer.
According to Hofmann is written by staff reporter Mark Hofmann of Rostraver Township. He hosts the “Locally Yours” radio show on WMBS 590 AM every Friday. His book, “Stupid Brain,” is available on Amazon.com.