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The Canine Shopaholic

The Canine Shopaholic

The Canine Shopaholic

For some men, it’s the thrill of a poker hand or the allure of a mysterious woman. But for my Dad, it was always dogs. He had an uncanny ability to spot a puppy from miles away, as if they whispered secrets only he could hear. And so, our home became a revolving door of wagging tails and slobbery kisses.

The problem, of course, lay in the aftermath—the chewed shoes, the midnight barking sessions, and the occasional indoor puddles. None of this seemed to register on Dad’s myopic radar. His eyes would light up like a kid in a candy store, and he’d declare, “Meet our newest family member!”

I was just a toddler when Duke, the Dalmatian, pranced into our lives. Dad beamed as he presented the spotted wonder to Mom. “It’s about time Dave took on some responsibility,” he said.

"What nonsense are you talking? Dave is only 18-months old and still not toilet-trained. How can he walk a dog when he's schlepping around a loaded diaper?"

Sadly, Duke’s tenure was short-lived. By Christmas, Dad gifted his best friend, Bud the firefighter, with Duke because, “No self-respecting fireman should  be without a Dalmatian in his home," he declared, waving goodbye to Duke’s wagging tail.

Next came Prince, the German Shepherd. He was a majestic beast, loyal and fierce. But one fateful August night, Prince vanished during a backyard pee break. Dad’s explanation? “He was dognapped. It's goin' around the neighborhood."

Of course that's not what he told his friend, Pat the cop when he gifted him with Prince. "No self-respecting cop should be without a German shepherd at home."

This absurd ritual repeated itself—like a canine Groundhog Day—until our house resembled a war zone. Objects were devoured, furniture shredded, and hazmat suits donned for emergency clean-ups. And poor Mother! Her ultimatum echoed through our urine-stained halls: “It’s either the dog or me!” until the ultimatum got stuck in a cobweb.

But we were a dog family, bound by an unwritten code etched into our family crest: “E pluribus canis” (Out of many, dogs -- which makes no sense at all).

Then, one stormy night, as Dad cradled a fluffy yellow Labrador puppy, something shifted. Maybe it was the lightning illuminating his eyes or the puppy’s soft whimper. Dad whispered, “I promise, this one’s different.”

And it was. We named her Becky —a moonbeam wrapped in fur. Becky grew up with us, her paws leaving imprints on our hearts. She never chewed a shoe or barked at the moon. Instead, she listened, she even helped us with our math.

On her first Christmas, Dad knelt by the tree, holding Becky’s paw. “No self-respecting family should be without a faithful companion,” he said, placing a tiny silver charm on her collar—a lighthouse, its beacon forever guiding us home.

Becky became our protector, our confidante. She never left our side, even when Dad tried to gift her to Irma our cleaning lady. Ironically, Mom bonded the closest with Becky and her new ultimatum became, “It’s either me and Becky or the door."

And so, our family crest evolved: “E pluribus canis et amor” (Out of many, dogs and love). Becky's legacy lived on, not in chaos, but in quiet moments—the warmth of her fur, the rhythm of her breath, and the promise that some bonds transcend even the Theatre of the Absurd.