Contents Preface: The Perfect Dog vi 1. And Puppy Makes Three 1 2. Running with the Blue Bloods 15 3. Homeward Bound 21 4. Mr.Wiggles 33 5. The Test Strip 47 6. Matters of the Heart 55 7. Master and Beast 71 8. A Battle of Wills 83 9. The Stuff Males Are Made Of 101 10. The Luck of the Irish 115 11. The Things He Ate 131 12. Welcome to the Indigent Ward 145 13. A Scream in the Night 159 14. An Early Arrival 175 15. A Postpartum Ultimatum 191 16. The Audition 211 .
Preface The Perfect Dog ❉ I n the summer of 1967, when I was ten years old, my fa- ther caved in to my persistent pleas and took me to get my own dog. Together we drove in the family station wagon far into the Michigan countryside to a farm run by a rough-hewn woman and her ancient mother. The farm pro- duced just one commodity—dogs. Dogs of every imaginable size and shape and age and temperament. They had only two things in common: each was a mongrel of unknown and indis- tinct ancestry, and each was free to a good home. We were at a mutt ranch. “Now, take your time, son,” Dad said.“Your decision today is going to be with you for many years to come.” I quickly decided the older dogs were somebody else’s charity case. I immediately raced to the puppy cage.“You want to pick one that’s not timid,” my father coached. “Try rattling the cage and see which ones aren’t afraid.” I grabbed the chain-link gate and yanked on it with a loud clang. The dozen or so puppies reeled backward, collapsing .
C H A P T E R 1 And Puppy Makes Three ❉ W e were young. We were in love. We were rollicking in those sublime early days of marriage when life seems about as good as life can get. We could not leave well enough alone. And so on a January evening in 1991, my wife of ﬁfteen months and I ate a quick dinner together and headed off to answer a classiﬁed ad in the Palm Beach Post. Why we were doing this, I wasn’t quite sure. A few weeks earlier I had awoken just after dawn to ﬁnd the bed beside me empty. I got up and found Jenny sitting in her bathrobe at the glass table on the screened porch of our little bungalow, bent over the newspaper with a pen in her hand. There was nothing unusual about the scene. Not only was the Palm Beach Post our local pa-.
C H A P T E R 2 Running with the Blue Bloods ❉ O ur ﬁrst ofﬁcial act as dog owners was to have a ﬁght. It began on the drive home from the breeder’s and continued in ﬁts and snippets through the next week. We could not agree on what to name our Clearance Dog. Jenny shot down my sugges- tions, and I shot down hers. The battle culminated one morning before we left for work. “Chelsea?” I said. “That is such a chick name. No boy dog would be caught dead with the name Chelsea.” “Like he’ll really know,” Jenny said. “Hunter,” I said. “Hunter is perfect.” “Hunter? You’re kidding, right? What are you, on some macho, sportsman trip? Way too mascu- line. Besides, you’ve never hunted a day in your life.” .
C H A P T E R 3 Homeward Bound ❉ W hile we counted down the days until we could bring Marley home, I belatedly be- gan reading up on Labrador retrievers. I say be- latedly because virtually everything I read gave the same strong advice: Before buying a dog, make sure you thoroughly research the breed so you know what you’re getting into. Oops. An apartment dweller, for instance, probably wouldn’t do well with a Saint Bernard. A family with young children might want to avoid the sometimes unpredictable chow chow. A couch po- tato looking for a lapdog to idle the hours away in front of the television would likely be driven in- sane by a border collie, which needs to run and work to be happy. I was embarrassed to admit that Jenny and I had done almost no research before settling on a .
C H A P T E R 4 Mr. Wiggles ❉ F or the next three days I threw myself with abandon into our new puppy. I lay on the ﬂoor with him and let him scamper all over me. I wres- tled with him. I used an old hand towel to play tug-of-war with him—and was surprised at how strong he already was. He followed me everywhere—and tried to gnaw on anything he could get his teeth around. It took him just one day to discover the best thing about his new home: toilet paper. He disappeared into the bathroom and, ﬁve seconds later, came racing back out, the end of the toilet-paper roll clenched in his teeth, a paper ribbon unrolling behind him as he sprinted across the house. The place looked like it had been decorated for Halloween. Every half hour or so I would lead him into the backyard to relieve himself. When he had acci-.
C H A P T E R 5 The Test Strip ❉ A few weeks later we were lying in bed reading when Jenny closed her book and said, “It’s probably nothing.” “What’s probably nothing,” I said absently, not looking up from my book. “My period’s late.” She had my attention. “Your period? It is?” I turned to face her. “That happens sometimes. But it’s been over a week. And I’ve been feeling weird, too.” “Weird how?” “Like I have a low-level stomach ﬂu or some- thing. I had one sip of wine at dinner the other night, and I thought I was going to throw up.” “That’s not like you.” “Just the thought of alcohol makes me nau- seous.” .