Can we get a puppy?

When our sons were 6 and 9, without too much resistance from their father, I decided to get them a dog. It wasn't exactly what they were asking for. This wasn't one of those situations where the children beg and the all-wise parent says, "When you're old enough to take care of the dog ..." I knew who was going to take care of the dog. Anyway, no one else was thinking about one. The older son had his hopes set on the newest Playstation. The younger son was afraid of dogs, which was the clincher. The grandson of a man who had served in Army Canine during World War II wasn't going to be afraid of dogs.

I started with the ASPCA and the Animal Rescue League. It was slim pickings for puppies that year, so I expanded my horizons to the classifieds. I found the litter about an hour from home - mongrel puppies, their father a yellow Labrador, the mother a Shepherd-something. There were 9 of them and they were $40 each. I wanted a female, I told the owner, would Saturday be soon enough? She thought that it would be since the ad had just run for the first time. Just to be sure, I left my phone number. I wasn't surprised when she called back the next day to tell me that the puppies were going fast. She'd selected a female for us and outfitted her with a green collar.