Column: Puppy prize

“It was a sign from God.”

This was the explanation given to me by my husband as he launched a bidding war over a six-week-old Labrador retriever at the juvenile diabetes fundraising event. While separated from me during the auction preview, he had come upon a poster-size picture of the puppy on an auction table. He was smitten. He read the poster about the dog’s notable lineage, then looked down to see the actual puppy leaning against his leg.


Now all that stood between the two of us and the puppy of our dreams was another smitten family on the other side of the room with a hankering for dog, reckless with the thrill of bidding and the knowledge that the money was going to a fantastic cause.

But had they also received a sign from God? Thankfully for us, no. But they put up quite a fight.

Most normal people do not do their puppy shopping at local fundraising events. Frankly, we had no immediate plans to get a dog. Our family hasn’t owned a dog since our beloved Lab, Hank, died almost two years ago at the age of 13. He was precious, kind and gentle. And he slept a lot. He was a fabulous pet for children. Since his death, our four kids have been asking—no, more like begging, pleading, negotiating—for a dog. A puppy. One they can walk, feed, dress up, make perform silly pet tricks and chase around the house. Me, I want peace and quiet. No running. No screeching.

Here’s what kept going through my mind: My children have been potty-trained for years. A puppy poops on the floor. My children travel with us. A puppy needs boarding. My children know how to clean up after themselves. A puppy chews and destroys anything he can sink his little teeth into. I can argue against a puppy.

But attach an adorable puppy to a leash and parade him through a party to tease event patrons, and anyone who might be in the running for a dog melts like butter. After the leash was handed over to us, many partygoers confessed that they too would have bid on the dog had they not had numerous animals already. He was the hit of the event.

“Do you have dog food at home?” asked the breeder as she handed me his papers at the end of the night. She had forgotten to pack his kibble. No, no dog food. I started the evening with zero plans to bring home a dog.

So, at 10:45 on a Saturday night, while the rest of the event’s attendees were getting ready for bed, I was clacking around Walmart in high heels, loading my cart full of puppy food, dog bowls and biscuits. The Lab—who we named Jack—was sound asleep in my husband’s lap in the car.

As one might imagine, the children were elated and Jack was immediately absorbed into our loud, frolicking, messy version of a family. Love, licks and laughter galore. Yes, he had to be house trained. (Side note: Puppies think sea grass rugs smell like real grass.) And his need to chew must be satiated with dog bones. But the hassle of having a pet is far outweighed by the love and joy it has brought to the family. Like so many other life-altering decisions we have made on the fly, this one re­affirms that there is never a perfect time to do anything.

We simply wait on a sign from God.