Mixed breed brings pure love to family

 

By Jim DeBrosse

Don't let anyone ever convince you that a single-parent household can't handle a dog.

My siblings all tried to warn me. Don't get a dog, they said. You're outta your mind to add a dog to your parenting duties, such as having to live out of your minivan for the entire soccer season.

But my three kids begged and begged for one, and Mr. Mom, of course, caved.

And, yes, when Bandit entered our household a year ago, so did vet bills, carpet stains, undulating waves of dog hair and anonymous voice mails from neighbors ticked off about the barking.

But on that day something else entered our home that we all needed badly: pure, blind, unquestioning love. That's the dividend on a dog, and it makes the many hassles associated with canine ownership seem mighty inconsequential.

Bandit, we were told by a pet store clerk, was a beagle-terrier mix who wouldn't grow any bigger than 30 pounds. And looking at that sad little lump of whining fur at the time, it was impossible to imagine that he would grow, within the next eight months, to nearly 50 pounds, and with his ribs still showing at that.

We don't care. In fact, the kids and I have decided that Bandit is the perfect size -- big enough to snuggle with on the sofa but not so big he cuts off the circulation in any particular limb he so chooses to lie upon.

Bandit takes turns sleeping with us at night, depending on which of us, it seems, has had the hardest luck day and is in most need of comforting.

Forget sleeping pills. There is nothing more relaxing than sharing a sleeping surface with a soft, warm, gently snoring dog. It's the only way to achieve what my son calls "maximum nap-age."

The kids and I are convinced that Bandit is the most perfect and beautiful dog God ever created. Never mind that he's too ill-behaved to take on walks, or that he still chews on every item in our household within muzzle reach.

My youngest daughter, whose TV viewing habits I probably need to monitor more closely, calls Bandit "sexy beast."

What else do you call a tricolor dog with black eye patches and brown eyebrows so precise they look as though they were applied with makeup pencil? Or a white tip on the end of his black tail that follows him like a tiny beacon wherever he goes?

Fathers can't always openly express their affection for their children. But dogs like Bandit can, with a tail that never quits wagging and a tongue that feels like one of those warm, moist towels they used to be nice enough to hand out on airplanes.

And we can return that love to him openly, without embarrassment or fear of rejection of any kind. You can look a dog straight in the eye and say things like "My little snoogy-woogy-boogers woogums. Oh, yes, you are!! Oh, yes, you are!!" and no one will think the worse of you.

Try talking that way with one of your school-age kids at, say, the mall food court, and someone might contact Children Services.

If you happen to lose your cool about something (not that I ever do), Bandit will sidle against your leg and wag his tail as if to say, "Hey, what's the big deal? There's always the next doggie treat to look forward to."

In a way, Bandit has become the emotional go-between and peacemaker in our not-always-functional household. But it works for us and, experts aside, that's all that counts.

Mr. Mom's bottom line? Get a dog, get a love machine.

  • DATE: March 20, 2006

  • PUBLICATION: Dayton Daily News (OH)

 

Copyright, 2006, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.

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