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A tail of dogged determination


My husband and I have been given the opportunity to move — downstairs.

We live in the upstairs of a 70-year-old craftsman-style home, and when the tenant downstairs moved out last month, we thought it would be a good opportunity to live on the floor below. It’s a lot more space, has a full basement (for my husband’s toys) and a garden.

Living downstairs also means that, because we have easy access to the yard, we could have a pet. And my husband is determined to get a dog.

I didn’t grow up owning pets. We had a cat a time or two, but they were never allowed in the house. We had fish for a few years, but they didn’t hold much entertainment value.

My closest experience with having a pet is when we visit my in-laws and spend time with their short-haired miniature dachshund, Abby. She’s cute enough — we joke that’s the only thing going for her — but she is a little neurotic: She barks at everything — a mysterious footstep on the front stoop or a leaf blowing across the yard — and refuses to understand or play fetch.

But there are all sorts of questions to ask: Who’s going to walk the dog? Clean up after it? Keep it when we’re out of town? Train it when we’re struggling to even see each other amid our hectic schedules?

Then of course there’s the question, what dog do we get? Do we go to the shelter or a breeder? My husband is determined to get a yellow Labrador retriever. His all-time favorite pet was a chocolate Lab named Mocha, who was sweet and calm — once he was trained.

I’m a bit more wary: My experience with Labs is my uncle’s menace of a black Lab who still couldn’t be trusted not to eat the toilet paper roll to the day he died at 14. And he was rambunctious to a fault. One of my earliest memories of him is being stuck in the backyard together, with him jumping on my back and barking loudly. I thought I was going to die, but he probably just wanted to play. Nothing was more terrifying than playing kick the can in the dark with my cousins and, while hiding behind a bush, being scared out of your mind when you realize the dog was tied up right next to you. And because he was a black Lab, you couldn’t see him in the dark.

I’m thinking positively, though. A dog would be a good excuse to get exercise, would provide an extra dose of affection in the house and would help us get ready for the next possible step — a baby.

There’s something to be said about the love of a dog.

When you come in the front door, a cat doesn’t greet you. If it comes to the door at all, it’s taking advantage of a potential opportunity to escape. A dog, on the other hand, treats you like you’re the only person in the world and your presence is the sole reason for existence. Who else can make you feel like that?

So, I’m on board. I know it will definitely change our lifestyle, but, when we decide to take that leap, I’m looking forward to this new challenge.