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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Puppy rules Mom’s world

Debra-Lynn B. Hook Knight Ridder

For years, my kids tried to convince me to get a dog.

For years, I kept up a litany of excuses: I have allergies. We have enough chaos in the house. A dog will be expensive. I don’t want to house train a dog in the chill of winter. I don’t want to house train a dog in the heat of summer.

But then my youngest child — the one who can pull my heartstrings from seven miles away — got to me.

“If we had a dog, then I wouldn’t have to be the youngest anymore,” he lamented pitiably one day.

So it’s almost his birthday. So call me a sap.

So my husband and I slipped out last Saturday and got a 3-month old puppy, an adorable black and white cocker with sad cocker eyes.

The looks on the kids’ faces when we surprised them with little Toby later that evening was worth whatever allergies I would suffer.

And then came the morning after.

It didn’t take long to figure out why my dog-owning friends always warned, “Don’t do it!”

For the fourth time in my life, I’m in charge of a baby.

Never mind all the contracts that every person in our family signed, designating this one the dog walker and that one the dog feeder. My life is ruled by whether all the candy wrappers are off the floor when the teething, orally fixated, gotta-put-everything-in-his-mouth puppy gets up from his nap.

Sure, everybody said they would participate in “potty” training. But when push comes to shove, when everybody else is glued to those last two plays on television, I’m the one nervously following the dog around saying, “Is it time to go outside?”

Worst of all parenting behaviors, I’m back to yelling at Dad that he isn’t doing it right.

“Don’t let him outside! It’s too chilly! Don’t let him in the front yard! He’ll run in the street!”

It’s deja vu all over again. The only difference: I’m not getting a well-trained human in the end. I’m getting a dog.

OK. So a dog is worth the training period, too. So he’s only a puppy for another eight months or so, and then we’ll have a well-loved, well-behaved addition to the family. The kids will learn responsibility. A dog is a boy’s best friend, etc.

In the meanwhile, my life as a home-based, free-lance writer, a position I began planning for in 1988 when I got pregnant with my first child, a position I could only fully realize when the last child marched off to school last fall, has gone up in smoke.

Instead of being sequestered for long hours on the basement computer, languishing over whether to use the word “lovely” or “winsome,” I am wandering around mumbling, “Gotta feed the puppy. Gotta take the puppy potty. Gotta play with the puppy. Gotta pet the puppy.”

While the other mothers are sipping tea in the living room during quarterly lunchtime get-togethers, I am relegated to the floor with the infants and toddlers.

So enough complaining. I made my dog bed. Now I gotta lie in it. Right? Right.

In the final analysis, I must admit, he is pretty cute. He has made my young son, and his siblings, awfully happy.

And hey, he won’t be a puppy for long.

So I’d better enjoy this while I can.

Soon enough, it’ll all be over and all I’ll have are the memories and the pictures.

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