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Our sonâ€™s voice radiated excitement. â€œWeâ€™re getting a dog!â€
How different from the voice on the phone a few weeks before when I answered to hear deep, guttural sobbing. Ken* choked out the terrible news: â€œMary* has another tubal pregnancy.â€
That was their fifth loss in their 10 years of marriage.
But then they began researching different dog breeds to see which were best for people with allergies. Ken suffered from severe allergies and asthma since he was two years old.
Heâ€™d never had a dog of his own, but when he was in high school his little sister, Julie*, who also had asthma, begged so long and hard for a dog we let her have a poodle, who was thought better for those who might be allergic. The poodle was named â€œMachoâ€ because he thought he was a St. Bernard. Our kids studied library how-to books on caring for and training poodles and soon Macho would sit up, lie down, beg, jump, roll over and â€œdrop deadâ€ when a finger pointed and his master said, Pow!â€
Although he was Julieâ€™s dog, Macho, a frisky fellow, believed Ken was the â€œtop dogâ€ in the pack, so thatâ€™s who he obeyed. Ken walked Macho, but Macho walked the rest of us.
Macho gave our boy experience with canines, and he was left with us when Ken and Julie went to college, then Julie came home and claimed him.
After Ken and Mary decided to get a dog, they didnâ€™t choose a poodle. They decided on a Havanese (Bichon havanais, or Havana Silk Dog) and located a breeder in their area.
Introduced to the lively doggie parents who welcomed them with inquisitive noses, soft barks and tongue wagging, the deal was on and a birth date shared.
The long anticipated phone call came and they went to check out the litter. Ken connected with the chosen puppy immediately. It was love at first sight on both counts. The tiny fuzzy fellow acted as if he knew this young man was going to be his master.
Mary was a little apprehensive. The little guy with the dark eyes, black gumball nose, and a little pink tongue was so wiggly! And even his little yips bit at her nerves.
When Latte snuggled into Maryâ€™s empty arms, though, his adoring eyes checking her out, affection elbowed away fear.
Pets had never romped into our daughter-in-lawâ€™s life before. A loose dog at a garage sale could send her into a panic.
Yet, the puppy and Mary connected. Cuteness and love radiated from the little body. The color of his silky hair reminded her of Starbuckâ€™s Latte coffee, so his short name became â€œLatte.â€
A professional scrapbooker who also makes greeting cards, she began working on a birth announcement. Soon it sailed through the mail to friends and family and I discovered all the details about my â€œgrand-pup.â€
Empty arms filled and laps warmed, the day came to take Latte home. He was weaned and trained to use the doggie litter box.
It wasnâ€™t easy at first when Ken was gone and Mary was alone with Latte. He sometimes whimpered and barked and that worried her. An enthusiastic jump toward her could make her heart thump.
Ken hit the books again about the Havanese breed, and trainingâ€”perhaps as a show dog. Soon Latte learned to obey. Love bound themâ€”even during the regular grooming sessions by Latteâ€™s master. Soon Latte looked like a prizewinner as he and his hair grew.
When they took him out where dogs are permitted, strangers stopped in their tracks and stared. If Latte wasnâ€™t strolling or wiggling, they wondered if he was real. He looked like a dog youâ€™d place on an exquisite bed as decoration.
So long as his masters were in the vicinity, Latte was happy. Once, however, when they visited our house and left him with me, he began to whine. The whine became a whimper, then desperate crying, and finally groaning.
All the racket and sorrow changed to joyous yips the moment they walked in the door.
Then another person joined the household. A little boy was born in 2006 and through adoption joined the happy family. Allowed to sniff and touch the newest addition to their family pack (although there are boundaries), Latte accepted the baby enthusiastically. Now a baby sister, also adopted, joined them.
The dog still enjoys his significant role in the family. After all, there is plenty of love to go around. Thereâ€™s even enough for Granny!
* Not their real names
by Ada Nicholson Brownell
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