Sunday, April 27, 2008

Coming home to Memphis

My wife Kara woke me up by poking me in the ribs last Saturday morning and saying, “There’s a puppy adoption event today at a community zoo about an hour from here. You want to go?”

This proposal was a change in our gameplan, as we’d already given up on adopting a shelter dog. After going through several shelters and talking to dog rescue groups, we’d been unable to find the pooch that would eventually make our home its bathroom. Instead, we’d decided to give up and get a purebred lab through a breeder, even though it turns out that purebred labs must be the most expensive things that don’t come equipped with stow-n’-go seating.

After weeks of research, we had even narrowed our search down to breeders of English labs, rather than American ones, as English labs are calmer, stockier and can understand cricket, while American labs have longer legs, burn more energy and have terrible foreign policies.

With Grand Theft Auto IV not yet released for the PlayStation 3, I didn’t have anything better to do that Saturday afternoon, so we arrived at the adoption event shortly after it opened. Inside a two-room wooden building at the zoo, we found a small crowd gathered around five puppies in separate crates (which is the canine-world euphemism for cages, as the crates in my world are made of wood and nails and contain boxing kangaroos that Sylvester the Cat mistakes for giant mice.)

We crouched down and held out our hands to the first puppy we came to, a black floppy-eared mutt with brown stripes, an upright beagle tail and two white feet. Her entire body wagged as we approached, threatening to turn the crate on its side as she licked our fingers through the bars.

Three hours later, Kara sat with the puppy still in her lap. One by one, the other puppies had begun going home with their new owners. One couple wandered into the room, played with a puppy for five minutes and said, “We’ll take this one.” I spend more time at the checkout counter choosing between spearmint and peppermint than these people spent choosing an animal with which they would spend at least the next decade.

For us, the deal was sealed when we left the room to talk it over and looked back through the window to see the puppy mournfully gazing at the door we’d just passed through.

“OK, that’s it. We have to do it,” Kara said. I nodded.

As we filled out the paperwork with one of the volunteers, I asked him if the puppy already had a name.

The man looked at her tags and said, “T72671.”

That’s a great name for a Terminator, but it didn’t have quite the puppy zing we were looking for.

“Do you know where she’s from?” I asked.

“The ‘T’ in her ID code stands for Tennessee,” he said.

Kara and I immediately started running down a list of puppy names with Tennessee themes. Elvis. Priscilla. Opry. Chattanooga. Al Gore. You have to roll a puppy name around on your tongue for a while to make sure you’ll be comfortable screaming it through several presidential administrations.

In the end, we decided on Memphis, a town that we knew absolutely nothing about, but that just kind of sounded cool, evoking images of cowboy boots, oversized acoustic guitars and missed crunch time foul shots.

As we headed to the pet store to inject our own stimulus package into the local economy with the little puppy formerly known as T72671 panting quietly on Kara’s lap, Kara said, “You know, things aren’t ever going to be the same again.”

“I know,” I replied. “Grand Theft Auto IV comes out in a few weeks.”

You can muzzle Mike Todd at


  1. I totally agree with the overall theme of this blog...GTA4 will be awsome.

  2. Why are men such idiots?

    Oh my God, she's adorable. Tell Kara I'm sure she'll be a great mom. As sure as I am that you will be a typical dad, you and your games....

    awwww, I LOVE her!!! You know, the dawg, man. But I'm sure Kara is great too.

  3. Sounds like a fool proff code they had for giving the dogs ID numbers .... I mean, they don't have dogs in Texas, do they?

  4. HAHAHAHA, jl is too funny. I agree, it's a perfect system..

  5. Perlson -- Dude, it has an f'ing 100 on Metacritic right now. I can't stand it.

    Miss Anne -- Are we? Yeah, I guess we are. I'm not doing much to help, am I?

    JL -- You could tell the dogs from Texas by their belt buckles.

  6. I'll name my future dog Al Gore. It'll be totally serial.

  7. Allover -- Nice. Is serial what the kids are saying instead of cool? If so, thanks for teaching me how to be serialer.

  8. Memphis is famous! Let's hear it for dlogs! Now our boy Brendan wants a prom - er, PLAY date, so he can bask in a little of her virtual light...

  9. brendansmom -- Hey, nice to e-see you here! I hope the paparazzi hiding in our bushes aren't bothering you too much. I just know they're trying to get a picture of her face-down in the mulch.