A Household Word
Puppy Love

We have a new addition at our house. Not a baby (thank goodness), but a puppy. If you think that I got the dog for my three kids, youíre wrong. I got the dog for me.

With two teenagers in my house, I need to balance their criticism of my clothes, my jokes and my driving ability with someone who will give me unconditional approval and wet kisses. I want someone who will roll over, not roll their eyes.

My friends without teenagers donít understand. "A puppy is just like a baby," they say. "Your kids are barely out of diapers. Why would you want to start the whole housebreaking process all over again?"

I have to admit, during the first few weeks of new puppy parenthood Iíve been sleep deprived and slightly frazzled, but in lots of ways having a puppy is better than having a baby. My nipples arenít sore from nursing, and I know that in 14 years the dog wonít be a surly adolescent; heíll probably be dead.

Dog vs. Teens

Having a dog is easier than having kids, too. I can leave the puppy locked up when I go out and the ASPCA thinks itís just fine. If I tried to crate my teenagers (and sometimes it seems like a pretty good idea) the authorities might not be real sympathetic.

When I come home (even if Iíve locked him in a crate), the dog is happy to see me. Heís more than happy. Heís ecstatic, and he covers me with those wet kisses. My teens donít even bother to look up from the inappropriate TV show that theyíre not supposed to be watching. They just ask, "Whenís supper?"

When itís dinnertime, the dog thinks that Iím Julia Child. He is happy to lick up any crumb that falls on the kitchen floor. He never complains when I serve him dry puppy chow in the same bowl for two weeks in a row. In fact, he likes it.

My teenagers arenít impressed with my culinary skills. "Meatloaf," they complain. "Why canít we get pizza?" Maybe I should serve them puppy chow, too.

The dog always comes when I call. My teens canít hear me unless Iím yelling (but if I am talking about them, they can hear me whisper from two houses away). They donít move from the computer. They roll their eyes and say, "Hold on, Iím about to kill these trolls."

The dog never rolls his eyes. When I talk to him, he listens. He thinks Iím fascinating. My teenagers think that I am a hopeless geek.

The dog doesnít tie up the phone line for hours talking about his love life or put perfectly clean clothes into the laundry hamper. He doesnít need braces.

The dog doesnít want clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch. In fact, Abercrombie doesnít even carry his size. The dog never asks me for money or borrows my shoes to walk to school when itís raining.

Unlike my kids, the dog actually plays with his toys. The dog doesnít mind if I sing along with the car radio.

I can walk the dog around the block and heís not embarrassed to be seen with me. He doesnít even roll his eyes when people comment on how much we look alike. He looks flattered.

Iím pretty sure that the dog will never deplete my life savings by spending four years at college drinking beer. He probably wonít even go to college (OK, maybe a state school). He is, however, enrolled in Canine Kindergarten. Tuition is only $70 and they promise that heíll learn to walk on a leash, sit and stay. I just hope he never learns to roll his eyes.