Boy, You Better Find that Dog by John L. Neel

"Dogs laugh, but they laugh with their tails." ~ Max Eastman

It is no secret- I didn't want E to get a "damn dog." Dogs are a lot of trouble.  You have to take them out all the time.  They have to go for walks.  They need exercise.  They chew things.  They smell.  They are expensive.  Dogs drool.  I'm allergic to dogs.  My "con" list was very extensive.

I drew a line in the sand.  "If you get a dog, it isn't coming in my house, I'm not keeping it when you deploy, I'm not walking it, and I will not pick up its poo, ever."

Of course, my daughter knows how to handle me better than anyone.  She asked me to go with her to pick out the dog on selection day.  Grudgingly, I went along, thinking I would be able to influence the decision and stem the need for a dog in her life.  Fat Chance.

When we got to Old Mill Doodles in Staunton, we went right into the barn and there was a pen with a bunch of the cutest little furballs I had ever seen, all romping around and playing with each other.  E had first choice.  There was one puppy who noticed her as soon as she came in the door.  He sat and watched her, went to play, and then would take a break and watch her some more.  I said before I could stop myself, "There is your dog." She picked him up and he nuzzled into her neck and closed his eyes.  He was the perfect balance of playful and calm.

E looked at and inspected every puppy in the litter, but always came back to this little guy.  When she looked at other puppies, he always kept an eye on her.  He chose her; She chose him.  She named him Cooper.

A few weeks later, I went back with her to pick Cooper up.  The first house he visited was my house.  So much for that line in the sand.  I watched them together, went for walks with them, took him out about every thirty minutes, and fell head over heels in love with the "damn dog." I was sad when she took him home to New Port News.

E brought him back for Christmas.  Bill and Sylvia, Kady's parents, were there too.  It was a full house, but Cooper fit in well and made for some really fun playtime with his granddaddy... until it came time for me to watch him by myself for the first time.  The girls were going out shopping and I was left in charge of Cooper.  Bill sat in the easy chair watching TV.

E's last words to me were, "Dad, you have to watch him all the time.  He's a puppy and will eat anything, no stairs, and I don't want him to have an accident in the house." I responded, perhaps a bit indignantly, Yeah, Yeah.  I got this."

Cooper and I played with his pull toys, went out a couple of times, played some fetch, took a nap, and then played some more.

Then Cooper disappeared.

I took my eyes off him for just a few seconds and.  Poof!, he was gone.  I asked Bill if he had seen him.  Nope.

I began searching the house.  I checked the kitchen, worked my way back through the dining room, checked the hall, re-checked the living room.  Nothing.  I went upstairs, checked under beds, behind curtains...I swear I checked everywhere.  Still, no puppy.

Bill was having a good-old-time with my dilemma but offered no ideas, no support, and no help.  He just kept saying, "Boy, You better find that dog."

I was convinced that somehow he had gotten outside.  "No, wait, that was impossible."

I went back to the kitchen to begin searching again, when I heard Bill say, Boy, you're in trouble; the girls are home."

I decided to meet my daughter's wrath head-on and enlist everyone's aid in finding the puppy.  "I can't find Cooper.  I've been searching for about five minutes and he is nowhere to be found,"

About that time, Cooper came from behind the couch, carrying one of Kady's nice picture frames, which he had chewed to shreds, wagging his little tail as if to say, "Hey Mom, look what Granddaddy let me do! He's so stupid"

There have been many other times Cooper has gotten me in trouble, like the destruction of the antique library table, but this is my favorite time and the one in which I consider myself an innocent victim.  Most other times are usually a combined effort between a permissive grandparent and a puppy who thinks he is hilarious.

What I have come to understand if that Cooper loves me and I love him.  He was the best remedy when I was recovering after surgery and instinctively understood that I needed to take it slowly.  We are best buddies and I can see now why people love their dogs.

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