Tag Archives: puppies

Higgledypiggledy: Weekend Links

Most people say that if you want to build a huge blog readership you should find your theme or your niche or your whatchamacallit – your topic that you write on again and again and again until becomes your brand. Then, they say, if you keep at it and write well your blog will take off like a cat with firecrackers tied to its tail and you’ll have hordes of people coming e-flocking.

Yeah, well. This blog is an odd mishmash of stories related to pregnancy, marriage, family, life in Laos, humanitarian work, positive psychology, puppies, and ice-cream/chocolate. An odd mishmash remarkably similar to my daily life, come to think of it. And so far I’m fine with being all higgledypiggledy rather than trying to be a brand.

So in the spirit of higgledypiggledy I thought I’d share some links with you this weekend – links I’ve recently found challenging, helpful, funny or just plain yummy. Enjoy.

On humanitarian work
A five-part series over on morealtitude on how to become an aid worker:
Know what you’re getting into
Aid work is a profession
Experience, education, and personality
Where do you fit?
Count the cost

On positive psychology
What makes us happy: Fascinating article (long, but worth it) on some of the lessons learned from the longitudinal study of 268 Harvard students that first began in 1937.

The Geography of Bliss: This book is part travel memoir, part exploration of happiness in different cultures and lands. It’s pithy and well-written and I really enjoyed it. 

On parenting
How to talk to little girls: A thought-provoking article on how adults tend to focus on a little girls appearance when complimenting them.

A lesson in fear: A funny essay by my friend, Jos, over at Zozo’s Mom about the challenges of toilet training.

In which I promise not to call myself fat: A lovely blog entry on emerging mummy about one woman’s battle with body image post-pregnancy and her promises to her daughters to raise them to celebrate real beauty.

On puppies
My story about “the Samoyed that almost was” (Friendly companions from Siberia) guest-posted on fellow author Chandra Hoffman’s blog last week. Having just bought home a most adorable Newfoundland puppy (I want one, I want one), she’s doing a dog blog series. 

On chocolate and ice cream
Molten fudge cake with raspberries and cream: This recipe was posted by my friend Nicole Baart under the title “Best Desert Ever” and I don’t think she’s far off on that! I made it yesterday and it was yumscrumptious. If you go visit Nicole’s website check out her wonderful books while you’re there.

Chocolate caramel slice: A couple of you have written asking what slices are. Well, here’s a link to a quintessential Australian slice – chocolate and caramel. They’re dense, gooey and yummy (or sickeningly sweet, depending on your tolerance for sugar).

Just for fun
Lioness tries to eat baby at zoo: Don’t worry – there is glass in between the two.

And that’s why you should learn to pick your battles: The story of a giant metal chicken and a wedding anniversary.

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Puppy lessons in parenthood (2)

It’s lunchtime in the McWolfe household of (temporarily) seven. Chaos is reigning. The three and six year old are loudly demanding their lunch, Mike is trying to finish his before he has to go back to the office. The baby’s been strapped in his stroller. Zulu is meandering around hopefully.

Mike and I watch as Zulu wanders over to the baby in the stroller.

“Awww…” we say fondly as our little dog sniffs nicely at the baby’s toes, then moves upwards to the baby’s hands – exploring ever so gently and sweetly.

“Good dog, good boy, nice gentle licking, good kissing of the baby,” we both praise him proudly, then pause as Zulu turns to trot away, tail wagging, and with something long and yellow hanging from his snout.

“What’s that in his…” Mike and I say in unison, just as the baby’s mother – from the kitchen – calls out, “the baby has banana!”

Zulu flicks his head back and the banana disappears.

“Awwww, Zulu!” we say in an entirely different tone, staring at our unrepentant puppy. “You stealer of baby food! You furry little thief! You should be ashamed of yourself – we are ashamed of you!”

“Welcome to parenthood,” says the mother in the kitchen.

Zulu playing nicely with another baby – the puppy next door

…And playing less nicely with the puppy next door

…And playing less nicely still

…And this was the end of that particular play session

Monkeys, puppies, and pregnancy yoga

So much has been happening that I’m not sure where to start. Perhaps with the bad, sad, news. I have been informed that Abu, the monkey, has escaped from his abode and has now been missing for ten days. This means no more monkey play time for me in the near future, and no more monkey photos for you. Mike said that Abu probably ended up in a perfectly lovely soup somewhere. I told him that no one likes him (Mike, that is, not Abu. Everyone liked Abu.)

Well, everyone liked Abu except the person who actually had to live with him when he squeaked like a wind-up toy for hours on end, or leaped up onto the bench and took a single bite out of twenty different bananas, or tormented the puppy to distraction.

Abu, may you rest in peace. I’ll miss you, anyway.

To continue with the less than great news, Zulu’s not himself. Last week he threw up all over the house in the middle of the night. Poor Mike, who got up first and cleaned most of it up, reported that he hit three of the four corners of the rug in the study, and deposited one offering right in the middle.

Post puppy-vomiting Zulu went right off his food, and has refused to eat anything but rice soaked in chicken soup for most of the last week.

Yesterday I came downstairs at lunch to find Zulu galloping around and foaming at the mouth. It looked as if he’d swallowed a whole container of bubble bath. Foam was just dripping from his little jaws and flying around in big, white, bubbly clumps every time he shook his head. He shook his head a lot. This was when I said a small prayer of thanks that I do not have to mop our floors (right before I said a small prayer that went something like, “please don’t let our dog have rabies.”)

We took Zulu outside and poured buckets of cold water over his head to wash away all the foam and then tried to take a look in his mouth to see if anything was in there. He wasn’t a fan of this plan, but as far as we can tell he didn’t get into any of our cleaning products, and we still have no idea what caused the bubble mouth. After an hour it just stopped.

The vet doesn’t think he has rabies (plus, she pointed out, he’s been vaccinated). She thinks he’s been eating geckos or toads. I don’t think so, as he has a lovely habit of bringing whatever he values into the house and dropping it on the floor (this includes large rocks, dead sparrows, big clumps of dirt, and bones) and I haven’t seen any mangled geckos or toads among his treasures.

“Living with Zulu is good training for not needing to have the house neat and clean all the time,” I said the other day, as I stepped over a pile of dirt and shredded newspaper that had been lovingly constructed in the middle of our living room over the weekend.

“So is living with you,” Mike said.

My guess is that Zulu has been sharing a virus with his new five-week-old friend next door, as that puppy has the same symptoms. I did learn something new from the vet yesterday, though. Zulu will take three injections without even a whimper as long as someone is feeding him a steady stream of tiny cheese pieces and/or buffalo meat. I wonder if that will work with babies?

Speaking of babies, I’m at week 14 now and I’ve had more than a week of feeling so much better, but nausea’s back today. What’s up with THAT? I definitely have not been eating geckos or toads (though I was vastly entertained last night to see our local vegetable seller just down the street is now also selling dead rats and toads by the bunch, right alongside the Japanese eggplants and beans).

If only humans hatched babies so I could let someone else sit on the nest for a while. I wouldn’t let Zulu do it – he’d doubtless eat the egg. But Mike’s pretty responsible, I’d let him take the egg to work with him and he could sit on it there.

Given that I can’t palm this off onto Mike, however, I feel I’ve been doing my part to keep the little egg healthy. We regularly walk around town, and I’ve been doing prenatal yoga three times a week. I don’t have a yoga blanket, but I’ve found that the couch cushions work quite well. I don’t have a yoga strap, but one of Mike’s belts is an adequate substitute. And I don’t have a yoga block, but finally I have found a use that my beloved mother will wholeheartedly approve of for the item in the following photograph.

What unusual uses have you been putting household items to lately? And any ideas on puppy bubble mouth? And while I’m asking questions, has anyone seen Abu?

Until next time, thanks for dropping by.

In which I answer seeker’s questions

Do you know that if you are an author you can now log into your author profile on amazon.com, look at the sales information for your book by state in the US for the last month, and track the rise and fall of your kindle and paperback sales rankings over time? I am not at all sure that this is a good thing (although I would like to thank December 2010 shoppers in Vermont, California, and Washington State). It took me considerable time after my book was published to break myself of the habit of checking my Amazon sales ranking several times a day (a habit I now call Amazturbation) and googling my book name to see who was writing what about it on their blogs. After putting myself on very strict me-related internet rations, however, I’m proud to say that I can now go months without even thinking about my Amazon sales ranking, and I aim to keep this up despite the lure of those pretty colour-coded sales maps to puzzle over.

I mean, why Vermont? Although, I guess if I lived in Vermont in December I might be browsing the shelves for novels set on tropical islands too.

When I started blogging seriously earlier this year, wordpress presented me with yet another tool that has the potential to be wielded as a navel-gazing, self-stimulating, saccharine-sweet-but-ultimately-unsatisfying substitute for interaction with real people in real time that’s actually not all about me – site statistics for the blog.

Much to my relief, however, I’ve found site stats not nearly as dangerous and much more amusing than amazturbation. For example, here is a list of the all-time most popular search terms that have led people to my blog in the last year.

  1. Writing
  2. Puppies
  3. Write
  4. Dreaming
  5. Samoyed dog
  6. Lisa McKay
  7. Resilient
  8. Giant snake in laos

It’s very hard indeed to take yourself too seriously when your own name is outranked by Samoyed dog, dreaming, and puppies, and you only just beat out the giant snake in Laos.

However, the thing I really love about the search terms list is the questions. People have found my blog by asking some of the weirdest questions – questions I’m quite sure they didn’t find answered in my posts. So, today, in honour of all you question askers, I’m going to attempt to answer ten of them now.

What is that dog that looks like a big ball of fluff? This question pops up in various guises all the time. That dog is a Samoyed. That is, however, the extent of my knowledge, I’m sorry. I cannot direct you to bonsai Samoyeds, gothic Samoyeds, Samoyeds wearing helmets, or tell you what a Samoyed looks like when it’s been shaved. If any of my readers would like to chime in in the comments section with any good Samoyed related sites you’ll make a lot of searchers very happy. There are a truly remarkable number of people interested in Samoyeds out there.

Is pig fat good for fertility? Well, I’m no dietician, but I’d guess that while very small amounts aren’t going to hurt fertility, it’s not likely to do much good either (unless the fat is still on the pig, the pig is a mother pig, and you live in Ancient China – where keeping a fat mother pig at home signified fertility and wealth).

Is pepsi made of pig fat? and Is there pig blood in pepsi? To the best of my knowledge, no. There is a persistent internet rumour going around that pepsi contains pepsin and that pepsin is a chemical that contains pig blood. Every reputable site that I looked at, however, flatly denies this. 

What age do dogs start wandering? Some of my readers are professional dog trainers, so I should probably defer to them on this. But my own internet research suggests that male dogs will start wandering off in search of females in heat at about six months old.

Where can I buy Lisa McKay Pottery? There is apparently a Lisa McKay out there who makes pottery. However her site is down and I can’t find any of her pieces on sale. Sorry. If I take it up as a hobby I’ll let you know.

Does wandering have the same definition as wondering? No. Wandering refers to being mobile, migratory, and traveling around without a clear destination. Wondering refers to being inquisitive, showing curiosity or amazement, or to wish to know something.

Do you use a bridle to ride an elephant? Ah, no. That is one reason why it’s easy to fall off an elephant’s head unless you have better innate balance than I do.

What does Laotian writing look like? It’s very pretty. I can’t reproduce it here because my browser isn’t enabled for the script, but if you want to check it out you can go here.

Does Laos have rabies? Yes. But it’s not like packs of rabid animals are roaming the streets. The dogs here are mostly attached to families and relatively well behaved (if a bit mangy and flea-bitten). I have never been directly threatened by a stray dog here.

Is having two babies and two puppies too much? Look, too much is relative. But I can speak from the perspective of having one puppy and no babies and the answer for me is clear. Yes, it is.

OK, that’s it for this session of “Lisa answers questions”. But before I leave here is one final tidbit. One search term that regularly pops up has had me puzzled for quite some time. That search term is “giant snake bites electric fence.” So yesterday I went googling this myself, and if you want to see what I found you can go here (in all fairness I think this photo even beats the giant snake in Laos photo). I am warning you, though, I will take no responsibility if you follow the link and then have nightmares. None.

Until next time.

Puppy lessons in parenthood

OK, I’ll say right here and now that, despite my joking on facebook this week, I do not doubt that babies are harder work than puppies. And, obviously, the stakes are just a little bit higher.

But, that said, I reckon that there’s some truth to puppies being a crash course in parenting.

I so had no idea.

A good friend, Jenn, wrote me several long emails about puppies before we bought Zulu home.

Jenn is one of those amazing friends who is interested in my life and reads all my essays, but who also doesn’t hesitate to take a keen editorial eye and a red pen to those essays and (occasionally) to my life.

Jenn’s keen editorial eye and red pen are not always entirely gentle.

Once I got back an essay with the comment “you are boring me now” planted halfway through it. Another time she told me that I was at serious risk of sounding like Paris Hilton whining about her privileged life. The fact that she was completely right in both cases didn’t make it any more fun to hear.

Jenn, who owns a dog and a cat, was both excited and a bit concerned to hear that we were getting a puppy, and in the week leading up to Zulu’s arrival I received more than one email full of good advice and seasoned with a hint of sternness.

“PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE,” Jenn wrote, “be prepared to work hard on training the dog in more than just house breaking & little things like sit & stay. I highly recommend crate training, and puppy gets NO unsupervised time outside the crate. You want to avoid dress rehearsals of bad behavior as much as possible. Don’t give the puppy the chance to have an accident when you’re not paying attention.”

This gave me pause. First of all, what was crate training? Secondly, I hadn’t thought much about housebreaking, but I suddenly realized that the puppy probably wouldn’t know where the toilet was, and might take a little while to learn – a couple of days maybe? A week? Two? Surely not three?

“I must say I snickered aloud at the prospect that you might be done house breaking in three weeks,” Jenn wrote back in response to this. “Unless the breeder has been working with them (& God bless her if she has!). You really have no idea what you’re getting into, do you?”

In a word, no.

Neither Mike nor I had anticipated our routines being so thoroughly disrupted this week. Mike hadn’t expected that one tiny puppy who needed feeding, toileting, and attention in the morning would make it so much more difficult to accomplish things like making lunch, answering personal email, or eating breakfast. I hadn’t expected to have to get up to check on where the puppy is every five minutes that he is awake, and break concentration every half an hour to engage in vigorous games of “let’s run around” or “shake the towel”. Or to have to work sitting on the floor sometimes so that the puppy can lie near my legs. Or to have to learn to be cautious every time I turn around lest I step on a tiny being.

We certainly hadn’t expected that he would cry every time we left the room, or that we’d have to crate him in our bedroom at night to prevent him from whimpering for hours (though, I must say, it’s a bit heartwarming to see how much happier he is just to be in our presence, and how he’ll settle down and go right to sleep as soon as he’s installed nearby).

Zulu’s been waking up between 5 and 7, so I’ve been sleep deprived and distracted all week, and last night I got a very tiny taste of what it must be like for parents to watch their kids get sick when there’s no one there to help.

Mike’s been up in the villages for the last two nights, so I’ve been single parenting. Last night I took Zulu out the back to do his business. When he went to run back inside he started to skid as soon as he hit the tile floor – all of a sudden he couldn’t use his hind legs properly, he was just scooting himself around on his front legs and sort of rabbiting his back legs along.

Then he went a bit crazy. He started whining and crying and wouldn’t let me touch him – just scooted around, terrified, until he found his crate. Once he heaved himself in there he spun in wobbly circles, yelping and digging and pawing, until he collapsed.

Ten minutes later he cautiously got up and came out, still whining and shaky, but seemingly much better.

We may not have any vets up here, but we do have Dr Google, and Jenn’s sister, Danielle, is a vet.

“I know tele-diagnosing is frustrating at best and impossible most of the time,” I wrote to Danielle via facebook last night, “but is there anything really obvious like parvo or rabies that this is a classic symptom of?”

An immediate consultation with Dr Google – who is always open for business – suggested that I should watch out for further symptoms of a tick-borne disease, and Dr Danielle had the following to say by email this morning:

“I wanted to tell you that it sounds like early rabies, but my coworker tells me that is too mean to say ;). It sounds to me like he slipped and then panicked (we see similar-sounding panics when we put some dogs on the metal exam tables; they try to dig their toenails into the table and stand perched on their nails which does not exactly help their stability).”

“So, Zulu either has rabies or he had a panic attack last night,” I announced to Mike by phone this morning.

“Right,” Mike said. “Let me encourage you to use this as an opportunity to focus on the least catastrophic of the options presented to you.”

“He might have rabies,” I said darkly – more because I felt like being dark than because I actually think he does have rabies.

“He might,” Mike agreed cheerfully. “But he probably doesn’t. We probably just have a dog who is very good at expressing his emotions. You could learn something from him.”

“Ha ha ha. Come home tonight and I’ll express some emotion to you,” I said, still dark – this time because sleep deprivation has apparently reduced my repartee to the level of “ha ha ha”.

“Gee,” said Mike. “That’s the best offer I’ve had in three days.”

“It had better be,” I said.

Zulu’s asleep at my feet right now, cuddled up next to the one toy I’ve so far managed to find for him, and given the way he was mauling the toy this morning he’s either totally recovered from his panic attack, or he really does have rabies. I’ll keep you posted.

It’s a boy!

Two weeks ago, when Mike and I went to pick out our puppy, there was only a little boy and a little girl left in the litter that we wanted, and we picked the little girl. But yesterday when we went back to pick her up, Soumontha told us that the little girl had met with an unfortunate accident underneath the wheels of a landrover. The only one left was her little brother.

Her little brother who whimpered and moaned whenever we picked him up, and who let the other 14 puppies walk all over him. Literally. Most of the litter was smaller than our little fellow but I saw more than one of them standing on him and biting his head while he just lay there and cried.

“I think maybe he just need some love,” Soumontha said, a trifle uncertainly, as she looked at the groaning little bundle in our arms.

“What type of puppy is he?” I asked her as an afterthought.

“Oh,” she said. “Mother medium. Father large.”

Right.

As we were driving home Mike and I talked names.

We were briefly tempted to name him khao niao (sticky rice), but then I vetoed.

I liked Jabulani (which means happiness in the Zulu language), but Mike vetoed. 

“We sure didn’t end up with the alpha of the litter,” Mike said, looking sideways at the tiny, motionless, bundle of fur in my lap. The puppy had stopped groaning, presumably in the hope that if he lay still enough we might forget that he existed.

“Maybe we should name him Beta,” I said.

“Maybe we should name him Zulu,” Mike said.

“He does sort of look like a lion,” I said, laughing, “a very timid little lion. But maybe he’ll turn out to be an African prince after all.”

“Oh, I was more thinking that Z is the last letter of the alphabet and I don’t think he’s the sharpest knife in the drawer,” Mike said.

“He may have been standing last in line when they handed out brains in this litter?” I asked.

“Maybe,” Mike said.

“Are you going to defend yourself against this assertion?” I asked the puppy.

He rolled his eyes back and looked up at me without moving. No, he clearly wasn’t, and Zulu it was.

The first thing he did when we put him down inside the house was to go look for a hiding place. He started out behind the stairs, in among piles of my books (we’re still waiting for bookshelves to be made) and every time I went to check on him during the next three hours he’d somehow managed to worm his way further back into the stacks.

All he did all afternoon was sleep, squeak (he makes the most peculiar un-puppy like sounds), and scratch. I started to wonder whether he might be attachment disordered in addition to everything else. But perhaps he’s not as dumb as we thought he might be, because in light of the three scrubbings and the thorough de-ticking we subjected him to later in the evening his instincts to hide may have been serving him well.

He was so traumatized by the whole day that he stayed in his crate for the first night, downstairs alone, without a peep.

Yesterday, however, after we rolled around on the floor with him, napped with him, sat outside with him, and petted him all afternoon, he started warming up to us.

“We love you,” Mike proclaimed, nose to nose with him on the floor. “You will love us.”

“You might as well give in then,” I advised Zulu. “Once Mike decides to inflict love upon you there’s nothing that can be done.”

“That’s right,” Mike said.

By last night Zulu was wagging his tale and begging loudly not to be abandoned, despite the bottle of water we’d heated up and then wrapped up in a towel to serve as a fake sibling for him. We had to bring the crate upstairs to our bedroom, where at least he slept peacefully until 5am.

“Go back to sleep, Squeaky Z,” I said, when he woke us up this morning by sounding remarkably like a large guinea pig.

Apparently my voice does not carry as much authority as Mike’s, which is why I’m yawing as I write this.

We haven’t yet figured out whether he’ll earn his name for being a princely African warrior of a dog, or a lovable and squeaky dumbo. On the one hand we’ve seen him tumble himself backwards off a ledge and into a pile of stones, and squirm under the door of his crate rather than figure out how to go around it. On the other hand, he’s already toileting outside like a champion (though I guess it’s possible he just lacks the willpower to resist Mike’s enthusiastic exhortations to, “go poo in the grass, that’s the boy!”). Either way, it’s sure fun to have him around.

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.