Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lessons Learned from Little Dogs 2

This house is run by two small dogs.  That is the reality.  My wife likes to think she runs it.  Occasionally I pretend I am in charge, but it is the dogs that run the place.  Five or six years ago the wife and middle child began a quest for a dog.  Put a bookmark in this place.  I'll talk more about our older dog later.

The middle child is a girl.  She is grown now, but then she was about 17.  Apparently commercials had an impact on her that went way beyond late night snacks.  She had watched the Taco Bell commercials that were popular back then so much that her choices in puppies were influenced by them.  Yes, she wanted a Taco Bell dog!  I am not sure if Chihuahuas really are in the canine family.  I have always suspected they were a cross between Norway Rats and little dogs gone terribly wrong.

My favorite thing about Chihuahuas was remembering the TV show "WKRP in Cincinnati"'s episode when Les Nessman called them "Chi-hooa-hooas".  Not much else recommended the breed to me.

After calling ads in the newspaper we went to the east side (the place where most hillbillies like me settled) of Dayton, Ohio to look at pups.  Thankfully they were not quite ready to go home with anyone.  We arrived and were brought into the room where the pups were.  The mother AND the grandmother were both there for us to see.  Gee whiz!

Sure, the pups were cute.  They were also four weeks old.  Even Iguanas are cute at four weeks, as are armadillos, yaks and polar bears.  The mama and grandmother were not so cute.  They were downright ugly.  Not the tiny, precious well proportioned rat dog of Taco Bell fame.  These dogs were odd shaped and just not what one would call show quality.  They were just dog ugly.  I think they were descended from the Hunchdog of Notre Dame.  Maybe the father was made from spare parts in some lab... named Frankenrover. (I smell a story brewing in this!)  If ever a dog should wear a mask... them were the dogs!

I finally herded the females of my family back to the van and as we drove home I began the lengthy process of convincing them to look elsewhere for a pup.  Again and again I reminded them of the mama... and (shudder) that toothless, flop-eared grandmother dog.  (Memories of my teenage years and another UGLY odd dog came to mind.  that story later.)  Good sense finally won the day and we did not go back for a Chi-hooa-hooa pup.

The reality is the pups were from a bad line.  The owners had not done the breed any justice and had bred indiscriminately.  They really were not a good choice.  Buying one would have been buying the dog for the puppy, not for the dog it would become.  For those of you that are going to say, "a dog isn't about looks or breed, there are plenty of great mutts out there." - I agree, not the issue!

Here is the lesson to be learned.  Don't settle.  Do your homework.  Those are important lessons when buying a dog AND in life.  Because the breeder was indiscriminate, who knows what problems and possible heartaches we might have gone through by now.

Settling is the easy way, the "get it now" way, sometimes the "American" way of life.  There is no real planning, no thought put into what we do.

Remember the TV show "Happy Days"?  The Fonz had a list, a written list of the qualities he wanted in a girl.  I took that to heart years ago.  I eventually had some sense knocked into me and made my list.  It served me well.

Why not govern our big decisions by sitting down and logically making a list of what we want... "must haves", "nice to haves" and "deal breakers"?  Why not pause before we buy that 800 inch plasma 3D TV with the jewel encrusted remote and a bottle opener on the side?

Why not ask the annoying questions like, "can I really afford this?"  or the ever unpopular, "Do I really need this?".  Hey, how about saying once in a while, "Yep, I want it, do need it, but can't afford it right now.  Rather than go into credit card debt with 28% interest, I will SAVE till I can buy it"!!!  Pretty bold concept, I know.

Don't settle... do your homework.  Decide what you really want, make a list of the qualities and look for that.  It might keep all of us from rushing out to buy the latest thing just because it is the latest thing.

Who knows, making a list and checking it twice works for Santa Claus.  It might even save some heartache and keep a few folks out of divorce court!

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