It’s been a while since I have written a blog.  A few people have told me they missed it.  One man who was trying to sell me extra security for my blog site on the phone told me he found my blog really fascinating.  I understand he is a salesman and may having been saying that so I would buy what he was selling, but I choose to believe him anyway.

There are a few reasons I haven’t blogged, but I guess the main one was that every time I started to, something would happen in the news and I would start writing an angry blog about the current president.   I’m fairly certain the last thing the world needs is another angry blog about the current president.  And the two people from my high school who voted for him and have yet to unfriend me are not going to be convinced otherwise by anything I write.  So I have a lot of half-finished blogs on my computer.  Maybe after I die from a stroke caused by the current president, they will be published posthumously like A Confederacy of Dunces.  Maybe like Van Gogh people will discover my great genius after I’m dead and feel guilty they never acknowledged it while I was alive.  That would be nice.

Anyway, the other blog topic that I keep starting and stopping is the puppy my husband and I rescued a couple months ago.

I’ve written about Alfie before   He is a Red Heeler but it is more commonly known as Totally Insane and Exhausting Dog.

I’m not sure what Saul and I talked about before we got Alfie, but now most of our conversations center around the consistency of Alife’s poop, or the last thing Alife tried to chew up, or what we will do with Alfie whenever we go somewhere for longer than two hours.

I know people go through this with children but the thing about getting a puppy is that it changes your life sooo drastically and sooo suddenly.  It is not gradual, like when you slowly dip your toe into a chilly pool.  Getting a puppy is more like being tossed into an ice hole and then being held underwater with a large spikey object for eternity.

Alfie has had a tough few months.  There’s the castration which I have blogged about before but really, I can’t emphasize enough that castration is not fun.   If I can help one person understand that castration is not fun I will not have died in vain.  (But if I do die make sure to publish those half-finished blog pieces so my genius is recognized.)

Next Alfie hurt his paw.  I’m sure when you read that you imagined he was galloping through a field after a deer or playing with another puppy and then taking a bad tumble.  No.  Alfie hurt his paw leaping off our bed to try to play with the cats (who, for the record, did not really want to play with him in the first place).   He landed on a soft shag carpet and suddenly was hopping on three legs for the rest of the day.  I am working on a show at Animal Planet about special needs animals.  One of them is a boxer with only two legs who can run full speed down a beach.

That is not the kind of dog Alfie is.

Alfie limps sadly across our kitchen sighing with resignation over the sad state of his life.  Alife will probably never be one of those heroic dogs like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin.  He probably would panic if I fell down a well and would need to go home and chew a squeaky toy to calm himself down.

Saul and I took our broken puppy to the vet.  We learned when you take a limping puppy to the vet they suddenly got hopped up on adrenaline and stop limping.  It’s  like when you take your car to the mechanic with a knocking sound and then it doesn’t knock for the mechanic.  Or it’s like that frog in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons that would only sing for the one guy and just croak for everyone else.

I didn’t need Alife to sing.

“LIMP!  LIMP!”   I screamed at him like a pageant mom, but he stubbornly walked normally down the hallway of the vet who looked at me like I had Munchausen’s by Proxy.  She gave us a few anti-inflammatory pills and the front desk sternly sent us home as if he were drug-seekers.  The minute Alfie was out of the car, he hobbled pathetically to the front door barely keeping upright.

The vet did suggest Alfie should completely rest except for taking a few steps outside to pee.  Have you tried to keep a Red Heeler puppy on bed rest?   Have you ever seen a Red Heeler have a puppy fit?    It is a lot like watching The Exorcist but scarier.   Alife would suddenly do figure 8’s around the house at the speed of light.  He was like a cartoon blur that whizzed around our legs and circled the alarmed cats.   He was able to do this effortlessly for five minutes straight but when he was done he would limp again.

For the next two weeks Alfie limped his way around the house.   Every time he seemed to get better, I would be fooled and take him for a long walk thinking this was good for his mental and physical health only for him to start limping again as we walked in the front door making me feel like some sort of monster.

We couldn’t deny it.  We had a lame puppy.

If he’s not limping, he’s having diarrhea, or chewing a hole in the bean bag chair or peeing on the couch (this was only once and we have THOROUGHLY cleaned the couch but we understand if you want to remain standing when you visit us.)

All my dogs have been somewhat broken.  Rusty didn’t love other dogs.  Lester went through a neighbor’s plate glass window, Sasha tried to kill a puppy I brought home.   They never seem to be the cute animals in the dog food commercial or on the internet or playing Puppy Bowl.

So what is the point of having these things?

Here is what I think.

If we go around thinking our puppy should be perfect we will be disappointed.  If we go around thinking we picked the wrong puppy (like instead of a Red Heeler maybe a sane dog) we will be disappointed.  Instead,  we have to figure out how to Love What Is.  It’s the same as with our parents or kids or husbands or jobs–nobody and nothing is going to live up to  our fantasy and most of our troubles come from trying to find that fantasy in reality.  So, I had shift my attitude and tell myself that Alife is mine and Saul’s to love.   Our job is to love this puppy within an inch of his life.    He is what the universe gave us.

And I think that by loving Alife I am reminded what love is all about.   It’s not about ego, but about compassion and understanding.  Maybe the current president doesn’t believe that.  He confuses us and tells us we will find happiness in power and control.  So maybe we need these broken puppies to teach us that lesson more than ever.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR—Keith Hoffman is wary of shag carpets and castration.




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Keith Hoffman lives with his artist husband, dog and two cats in the small town Lambertville, New Jersey 72 miles outside of New York City. He has completed a memoir entitled The Summer My Sister Grew Sideburns.

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