A tale of two puppies

Mike should have known better, really.

I was so happy at the prospect of finally getting a puppy that the thought of two puppies had never entered my mind. Honestly.

Then, while we were on the way to the airport last Monday to be medivaced to Bangkok, Mike mentioned that he’d called the puppy lady and told her we wouldn’t be able to make our scheduled appointment at lunchtime that day, after all.

It has turned out to be more difficult to find a puppy in Laos than we’d bargained for. Once we’d settled the fact that we definitely not getting the imported Samoyed (a question that was only really resolved in my mind when we went back to the little store and she was gone) we started scouting around.

Then Mike’s colleagues got wind of the fact that we were looking for a puppy and, hospitality being what it is here, decided to take care of this for us.

“What do you mean Makan has found us a puppy?” I asked, when Mike told me what was going on.

“Well, I’m not exactly sure,” Mike said. “You know how indirect everything is here. The word on the street is that Makan has ‘ordered one’ but I can’t get anyone to tell me when we might expect this puppy to show up at our house, or whether these puppies have even been born yet.”

“But what if we don’t like this puppy?” I asked.

Mike shrugged. “Unless we find another puppy quickly we will have exactly zero choice in the matter.”

We really didn’t want Makan spending his hard-earned money to buy us a puppy, so we set to hunting down puppies with new will. We asked the owner of the little grocery store we go to, and the people in the hardware store. But we didn’t strike gold until we asked the German guy who sells the only decent ice cream in town.

Ice cream man was very confused to be asked about “mah noy” (little dogs) while we were paying our bill, but when he finally realized what we were after he obligingly dug out the phone number of the German butcher. The German butcher, he told us, had little dogs.

The German butcher and his wife, Soumontha, did indeed have little dogs. We told Soumontha that we’d come round on Monday lunchtime to see them.

Except, last Monday at lunchtime found us in a car on the way to the airport to catch a flight that would ferry us to hospital in Thailand. Damn staph.

“Maybe we should get a puppy in Bangkok,” I suggested, trying to think of ways to redeem this trip and get my puppy fix. “A yellow lab, maybe. Or a husky.”

“Soumontha said she’d keep one for us,” Mike said. “Or two. She asked how many we wanted.”

Have you ever had one of those moments when your perspective and vision for life shifts with all the brilliant immediacy of a lightening strike? That was how the possibility of two puppies arrived in my mind – in a single, mesmerizing, instant.

“What did you tell her?” I asked, pretending casual.

“I told her that it depended on how cute my wife thought they were,” Mike said.

Really?” I said.

“Stop!” Mike said, with all the sudden fear of someone who’s just realized that they have handled a Pandora’s box far too casually. “I was joking. We do not need two dogs.”

“How do you feel?” I asked, glancing down at the swollen legs that were jammed into his shoes.

Stop!” Mike said, ignoring my solicitous diversion.

“What???” I asked.

“I can see you thinking.”

“Once upon a time you loved it when I thought,” I said.

“Yes,” Mike parried. “And then we got married.”

I didn’t pester him too much about two puppies last week. It’s hard to muster up the steely willpower necessary to press an argument with someone dressed in green pajamas who has an IV decorating the back of their hand. So I bought him chocolate covered ice cream bars from the gift shop downstairs and bided my time.

That time came yesterday, when we finally got to go see Soumontha’s puppies. There are fifteen of them, five weeks old now, and they are a squirming tangle of adorable. I sat down on the ground and let them crawl all over me and wondered how we were ever going to be able to pick one in ten minutes flat.

As it turned out, there were only two left unallocated from the litter that we wanted – a little girl and a little boy – tiny, tawny, balls of fluff with black noses.

We were leaning towards the little boy, but then we noticed that he whimpered a lot and started to wonder whether he was chronically noisy, or anxious… or brain damaged. Then we started leaning towards the little girl.

“Perhaps we could take them both,” I suggested, smiling up at Mike and Soumontha.

“I told you,” Mike said to Soumontha.

Mike and I talked this over again last night as we walked down to an outdoor restaurant overlooking the Mekong.

“They could be buddies for each other,” I said. “When we have to go out they won’t be lonely – they can play nicely with each other while we’re gone. And during the day when I am busy they can curl up together like tiny, contented, bundles of love. They will be happier with a friend.”

“That is a beautiful vision indeed,” Mike said. “But I don’t think it works like that, exactly. When puppies are together all they want to do is play, and I think it’s far more likely that they’ll wind each other up and get into all sorts of mischief. Do you really want to be trying to write in the same room as two bored puppies and all sorts of things they should not be chewing on?”

“Huh,” I said, my beautiful vision dying a small death.

After we got home from dinner I put this to an informal poll and it seems that, as usual, the global facebook audience agrees with Mike.

“Uh oh!” warned a good friend from California, Danielle. “I know it’s tempting, but don’t get two that are siblings! They maintain a pack mentality and it makes them unbearably hard to housetrain and domesticate! They act like little wild wolves when you have two from same litter together.”

“Little wild wolves” piques my curiosity, I must admit – after all, how much trouble can two puppies be? But I suspect that my curiosity will be trumped by pragmatism-plus-spouse, and I am slowly resigning myself to being a one-puppy household.

Of course, we are going again on Sunday to visit the whole furry mob of them – a visit that is likely to take a pair of bellows to the dying embers of that beautiful vision of canine comradeship…

I’ll keep you posted.

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8 responses to “A tale of two puppies

  1. Yay! Yay! Yay! LITTLE DOGS!!!!!!!!!! More pictures pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze!

  2. You have no reason to listen to me. I used to be a professional dog trainer. I published an award-winning book on dog training. I love dogs, adore dogs, practically worship dogs.

    Two puppies is not fun. It is far more than twice the amount of work. These are mobile aliens with teeth who will NOT be on the same schedule.

    It is also not nearly as good for them as you told Mike. Having an adult dog plus a puppy is a good thing. Two babies with no adult role model means they will be going through maturation phases at the same time. NOT good. The puppies will not have an opportunity to develop their own personalities — they will forever be “relative” to their sibling.

    I can’t tell you how often I had to deal with people who — usually between 8 months and a year, when the pups are in adolecent hell — decide to rehome one dog. They keep the calm one… and then the personality changes completely, because that dog had always been suppressed by its sibling.

    Resist. One puppy is difficult enough. Two, unless you have older dogs and a LOT of experience, is just a set up for exhaustion and heartache.

  3. It sounds like 2 puppies is similar to 2 toddlers of the same age… Exhausting. Good decision to go with one! 🙂

  4. Late in the day to add a comment, but have you considered dog sitting for other people instead of starting from scratch with one of your own? You must know people like yourselves who live in your area and travel and need their dogs to be loved during home leave, etc. With this option you don’t have to worry about what will happen to fido when you leave Laos.

    • Thanks for this. Very few of our friends have dogs of their own here, for the reasons you outline above. We need one though, for security reasons. This house is not incredibly secure and we’d both feel better if I had a dog during nights Mike is away (and vice versa, I guess :)).

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