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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lively fur ball alights

Mike Morin

Life has a funny way of serving up surprises. Unexpected twists turn routine existences into life-changing events. Red Sox win the World Series. A grandmother’s single lottery ticket becomes a $200 million payday. Mike Morin gets a dog. His first one ever.

“What? You’ve never owned a dog?” I’ve been asked that question a hundred times in the first five days of LWP (Life With Puppy). Therein lies the surprise to many.

It’s true. As a young Michigander, I owned a bird, frogs, snakes and cats, but Basia is my first dog. My predictably pleasant empty-nest lifestyle has been crashed by a 4-pound, 11-week-old “tri-brid” fur ball. Combine three breeds: Cavalier, Bichon and Shih Tzu, and you’re the proud owner of a toy bear puppy. A hypoallergenic bundle of spastic fantastic.

With a couple of cats and a daughter out of the house, I’ve become spoiled by a simple life of doing what I wanted when I wanted. Barbara has wanted a dog since forever, and my resistance was purely rooted in selfishness.

“Oh look! Somebody dropped a small cigar in my office,” I announced to Lady Baba. Then, I remembered no one smokes in our house, and it occurred to me that we have work to do in the housebreaking department. Feel free to laugh at my lack of experience and naivete as a new dog owner. Seasoned dog people already know the drill. A puppy is a child minus the tax deduction.

“Since Basia scampers around the house like she owns it, can I charge her rent?” Those types of questions may be hypothetical, but I need to ask them anyway. I suppose we’ll end up enrolling Basia in puppy kindergarten, but as one fellow told me today, “At least you won’t be paying for college.” We’ll see.

“Since Basia only sleeps in her crate and sometimes lives inside a gated community in the kitchen, is she considered a free-range puppy?” Stupid question? Probably. Remember, I’m new to planet puppy. Lady Baba rolls her eyes and who can blame her?

If there was such a thing as a puppy Ph.D., she would have earned one. Years of looking through puppy books and websites led to her doctorate dissertation on why we needed a dog. With resistance worn down and pictures of adorable toy bears to look at, we both graduated into dog ownership.

So far, it’s been a blast. Day one, Basia arrived and immediately crawled under our baker’s rack and parked herself on a food platter that we had been storing there. I explained to her that in some households, that might not have been a wise move. Other than that, she gallops alongside of us around the house, playing chicken with my size 9 loafers every step of the way. Once we break her of dropping smokeless cigars around the house, we’ll work on other things like “Sit!” “Heel!” “Fetch me a Corona!”

And she’ll work on me with my stupid questions.

Hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5-10 a.m. on “New Hampshire in the Morning” on 95.7 WZID. Contact him at Heymikey@aol.com. His column runs the first, third and fifth Tuesdays of the month.