Puppy Love

November 5, 2021

My father could be relied on for the occasional bon mot. In 1994 National Public Radio sent me to cover the 25th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival, with Salt ‘n’ Peppa, Melissa Etheridge and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I ended up crowded on a farm with hundreds of thousands of young people. They slept in tents, lined up for bottled water and Pepsi (a sponsor) and wallowed unabashedly, or slid naked, through prodigious, glorious mud. My Doc Martens ended up so caked in clay that when I got home to Brooklyn I put them out to the curb. I told my father about all this.

“They wanted to experience what it’s like to live like a refugee,” he said.

Maybe we all court a little chaos in our lives, which is why we renovate our homes, or have kids, or acquire puppies, or do all these things at the same time.

Just for the record, we did not plan to pick up a nine-week old black lab puppy on Saturday, welcome our daughter from Montreal on Sunday, have workers show up and demolish our bathroom on Monday, and invite five of our daughter’s friends to our home for a birthday party dinner on Tuesday. We planned these events well-spaced apart, and then they all happened at once.

As I wrote in my notebook on the morning of our daughter’s birthday: “The house is sort of completely ridiculous right now. My wife is on the third floor with Rook, the puppy, asleep on a towel behind her chair. The doors on the second floor are all taped off with plastic. Zorgie is on the couch in the den and happy to stay away from all the madness. Jimmy and Marek, the workers, are tearing out the bathroom on the second floor. Coco is asleep in her bed on the ground floor. I am at work at the dining room table (since my office is next to the demolition). The birthday girl and her friend are asleep in the basement. Marek just went out in the rain to use the port-a-potty in the back yard.”

The puppy is the most challenging part of the mix. He’s cute. But puppies need to go out to pee/poop every three hours until 12 weeks of age. My spouse and I take turns; one of us gets up every night. We meet each-other bleary-eyed at the breakfast table and try to resist asking one another how we slept. We gulp our tea; at 7:30 a.m. Marek arrives with his power tools. He does like puppies.

All of this builds character; as Garrison Keillor has said, we are still married.