Adding to the pack: A tie vote goes to the puppy
By Mitch Mode
Special to the Star Journal
“He’s adorable. Don’t you think he’s adorable?”
Sally hands me the phone. There is an image on the screen of what appears to be an animal-like creature. It seems quite small, marked in black and white. There is a disembodied hand holding the forward end of the animal up. It appears to me to be a guinea pig but with slightly longer legs.
“It’s from the same breeder we got Fenway from”.
I look again and now recognize it for what it is; a Boston terrier puppy. For those unfamiliar with Boston terrier puppies they appear to be somewhat incomplete in standard dog terms, lacking as they do any semblance of tail, a distinctive nose or setback eyes. If Bostons came off an assembly line one would assume they were built late on a Friday afternoon with the weekend ahead and the workers in a rush to punch the time clock.
I tell her the puppy looks very nice. I feel that should be the end of the conversation. Why should I have felt that way?
“He’s five weeks old and he’s available. I think we should get him”.
I let that sink in for a moment. Slow-witted though I may be at times I realize that this is a time for a carefully considered response. How does one convey that this seems a terrible idea, fraught with peril at every step, a disaster in the making with consequences reaching far and wide.
“I’m not sure about that.”
“His name is Peanut! Isn’t he cute?”
I think to myself: Peanut. Peanut! Who in the world would saddle a dog with the name Peanut? A five-week old puppy burdened with the name Peanut may well be scarred for life! Peanut? That’s what I might name a Guinea pig.
I offer up that we already have two dogs. I point out that Bella is still a puppy and not a particularly well-mannered puppy at that; she, as they say, needs work. I mention that December is not a good time to house break a pup. I’d think, I tell her, that even three inches of snow would have the short-legged Peanut up to his belly in snow, cold snow! I remind her of sleepless nights with a puppy crying in the darkness. I say I’m not enthused about the name.
“We can name him whatever we want. See if you have any ideas”.
Looking back, that was the moment I knew it was over; the deal was sealed as they say. When one gets down to naming the big decision is over, all that remains is the details. Decisions in a marriage, given that there are only two parties, come down to either a split decision or a unanimous one. There is no other way to parse a two vote election so to speak. [One may be tempted here to launch into a discussion on votes and voting and results of the same but no, no such distraction here, however easy and however tempting. Let’s keep to the story at hand]
Two votes. Fifty-fifty. A draw. So it would seem. Reality suggests otherwise. Reality would suggest that in a marriage where the two parties reach what would seem an impasse that should one party feel more strongly about the outcome that party would be awarded a super majority and thus carry the day.
So it was that on a chilly Sunday morning on the last day of deer season we loaded the car with an empty dog crate and went for a drive.
I would not have hunted; I’ll admit to that. It had been a slow season. It had been a week’s worth of hunting over a restful November landscape where faded browns and fallen leaf lay in repose of a season now past. It had been a season in the time of COVID when two of us hunted separately and kept distance. No overnights at the hunt shack together this season. It had been a good enough season, one buck for the two of us and the fact that I was not the one who took the deer did not detract from it all. So in the hours of the season finale I took to the road with Sally to pick up Peanut.
When we got Fenway I’d been skeptical. He was coming into a house with two dogs, Riika and Thor plus a cat, Lady. He was small (though larger than the ill-named Peanut) and seemed easy prey for them. He surprised me. He is, as a friend describes, “tough as barbed wire.” He grew up confident, held his own against the world, reigns now as the 20-pound big guy in the house. Perhaps Peanut could do the same.
Peanut fit my hand. He weighed in at just under five pounds. I drove home while Sally held him and he made small whimpering sounds until he fell sound asleep. Sally had already jettisoned the name (thank the lord) and he is now Winslow after Winslow Homer the Bostonian painter. I’d named Fenway for the iconic ballpark; Sally wanted a Boston themed name.
At home we introduced the pup to the pack, Winslow to Bella and Fenway. Winslow perhaps recognized Fenway as a familiar dog and came to him. Fenway regarded the pup as if an insect, snarled at him when he got too close. Bella is a leggy griffon, six months old this week and towers over Winslow as if a giraffe, combining her height was a notable lack of coordination common in pups. She seemed to take Winslow as an animated chew toy brought to her for her pleasure.
It has, no surprise, been an interesting week. The dogs are adapting; they are, after all, pack animals. Given time and space they figure things out. Winslow is the pack runt but punches above his weight as they say.
Sally watches him, says, “Isn’t he adorable?”
And, against all odds, I agree.
An assortment of outdoor products is available at Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander. Call 715-362-5800.