Puppy Love

He was never going to be a dog-person but then two Yorkies joined his family and, even with poop scoop in hand, his heart melted
By Paul Kerton

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It had to happen. It was inevitable that somewhere along the line we would cave in and get a dog. Well, two actually. I say “cave in” because it was a semi-reluctant move. My wife Tziona and I are not dog people. Our collective knowledge of dogs and how to raise them is on par with our knowledge of Cantonese – a fat zero.
 
Some guys have been brought up with dogs all their lives. They casually stash their two chocolate Labradors in the back of the Defender and disappear into the bush, fishing and hunting and letting the dogs run wild and free. We do our fishing and hunting at Pick n Pay, generally without animals, although the children perfectly fit the description when they hit the sweetie aisle.
 
The problem is that when you have children, they find puppies so irresistible and cuddly they have to have one immediately. We did well to put the moment off for two and a half years, when their first rumblings started but, of late, our arguments have sounded weak and very mean-spirited.
 
Children don’t care that the dogs eat the furniture, destroy the garden and poo everywhere (except on those hideously expensive absorbent mats that litter the Travertine tiles). “It’s good for children to have a dog,” says a child psychologist friend. It gives them something other than themselves to think about and care for and teaches them responsibility through looking after them, grooming them and making sure they are fed and loved.
 
Two of our friends have Great Danes, which are lovely and noble but huge. They don’t so much need kennels as stables, they eat you out of house and home and their “droppings” are the size of genetically-enhanced cowpats. And squishy too. We couldn’t imagine ourselves with anything THAT challenging. So we opted for something small and perfectly formed with a big personality as our starter-dog – a Yorkie.
 
At the point of doggie purchase, I tried to negotiate into the unwritten Dog Contract a clause whereby I, Daddy-o, would never have to lift a finger to pick up the poo or get up at some ungodly hour to take them for walkies. And the children both chorused, “Of course, Daddy, we’ll do all that. Don’t sweat,” echoing the psychologist with: “It will be good for us?” Oh yeah! And how many times in the 12 weeks that we’ve had those two fiery little Yorkies have the children picked up the mess? Maybe three times each. Generally, I do the picking up (of course) and Tziona follows, stalking closely behind with one of those industrial strength disinfectant sprays and a cloth. Between us, we keep the floor spotless.
 
Apparently, despite being covered in fur, Yorkies can’t go outside until the weather warms up, which, roughly translated, means the interior of our house now looks like post World War II Berlin. Still, the children genuinely love them and, I must say, as the dogs fall asleep in my lap as I catch the late night news, they do look ridiculously adorable. I’ve also grown to love them. I can change my mind, can’t I? 

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