PROBE: December 25, 2001

December 26, 2001

QUESTION: Those inconsiderate people who drop unwanted animals off should be arrested. Do you know how inconvenient it is to find an unsolicited dog on your doorstep? — Angry, rural Holtville

We do. When that happens, our solution is to ignore the pooch and let the neighbors decide what to do.

Last week we ignored the puppy for two days, closed our ears to its whimpering. On Sunday it scratched on the door.

When we opened the door we said, "no way," closed the door and went back to the computer.

This was not a dog to be ignored.

It next appeared at the glass patio door, peeking in at us, whimpering.

We guessed it was about 6 weeks old, its sides caved in, more gaunt than when we first saw him Friday. When we tore up a piece of stale bread he wolfed it down.

It was really cold that morning and we considered giving the puppy a bowl of warm milk. Our voice of reason said, "If you bring that puppy in the house you've got yourself a dog."


He was such a little dog, shivering on the patio step. A little white dog with black spots, two floppy black ears, freckles on his nose, looking a little like Dick and Jane's dog, Spot. And maybe a little like Snoopy.

Part spaniel, we guessed, and maybe part Dachshund.

Against our better judgment, we opened the door and let him inside. He lapped up the warm milk and licked our ankles. When we picked him up, he covered our face with little puppy kisses.

"Listen, Buddy," we said firmly, "I don't want a dog!"

When he wriggled, we stroked him. Soon he was asleep.

"What do I do with a puppy? I bet he's not toilet trained."

He wasn't.

Dogs are a pain, expensive, a lot of work. They say stroking a puppy can lower blood pressure and older people who have pets live longer.

"I can't sit here all day and hold this puppy. I need a nap."

We locked the puppy in the bathroom and heated up a can of chile beans for lunch. With nothing else to feed the dog, we spooned chile beans into what was now his bowl and he gobbled every bite.

Later we bought a can of Pedigree dog food at 7-Eleven for $1.29. He loved the Pedigree but when we bought a cheaper brand at the market he hated it. Although we spooned it into his dish for two days, he wouldn't touch it.

He wouldn't touch the dry dog food, either. Now he didn't like milk any more. He gobbled the leftover kung pao chicken and fried rice, ate every bite, even the celery and the red peppers disappeared. Only the shredded foam box was left.

We taught him to fetch. He caught on so fast we decided he already knew how.

When we caught him gnawing on a shoe, we yelled, "Stop that! Bring it to me! Come here!"

He brought the shoe and laid it at the side of our chair. Was that fetching? We picked up the shoe and threw it. He brought it back and put it down. We threw it again, and he returned it.

When we threw a book of matches, he ignored it. He couldn't be bothered with a ball. Apparently he only fetches shoes.

We didn't think it was funny when we found he had chewed our best pair of shoes and torn into a whole box of nylon ankle sox. And peed on the carpet. And jumped from a chair to a table, knocking over a cup of coffee and dumping a full ashtray.

As he became more secure, he became less anxious to please, raining fewer puppy kisses on us. He indulged in rougher and rougher play, often drawing blood as he nipped us with his sharp baby teeth.

By now we had turned the bathroom into an "apartment" for the puppy. He shredded a whole roll of toilet paper. We dreaded letting him out of the bathroom.

He no longer bothered to bring the shoe to us. He just chewed it. The sweet little puppy was out of control, an alpha dog, the leader of the pack. When we tried to nap, he dived at us like a kamikaze pilot, sat on our head and chewed our hair.

When we yelled at him, he ignored us.

Time to show this puppy who was boss.

"Stop it," we said, waving a folded copy of the New Yorker. He braced himself in a fighter's crouch, switching his tail, eyes bright with mischief.

Even as we raised the magazine, we didn't want to hit him. Whack went the magazine. When we brought it down hard the second time on our thigh, he fled to the far corner of the bed, flattening himself. Within a minute he was asleep.

"So what did you name your dog?" asked Sports Writer Eric Galvan.

Snoop Doggy Dog. Because this dog is a gangsta! But now that he knows who's boss, he'll be fine. He'll be cute in a red collar. Merry Christmas!

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