Sunday, October 12, 2008

Surviving acts of puppies and Congress

It can be hard to discuss your puppy when all anyone wants to talk about is the economy.

“We taught her to roll over!” I might tell somebody.

“I’m worth $5,000 less than I was yesterday!” they might reply.

It’s tough to appreciate the little things in life when a graph of your net worth resembles a ride at a water park, the kind that sends screaming kids skipping across a pool of water at the bottom.

Still, you should see how cute our puppy Memphis has become, with her big floppy ears and her perpetual-motion tail. When we first adopted her about six months ago, we tried to teach her to play fetch, but the only game she has really developed a knack for is “run circles around your owner,” the rules of which are fairly self-explanatory. She plays with such zeal that we actually have to replace divots in the yard afterwards; Memphis digs in so hard when she rounds corners that she kicks up dirt like a little galloping Seabiscuit.

When I tried explaining this to my friend Johnny, he replied, “Dude, what do you think of the bailout deal?”

Nothing good can be happening when my friends want to talk about acts of Congress.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It seems like a terrible way to spend our money, but maybe not spending it would have been worse. Does anybody really understand what’s going on right now? And did I mention that Memphis snores when she sleeps? It’s like she’s a little person sometimes.”

In any event, the bailout will have been successful if it at least keeps the phrase “too big to fail” out of the news for a little while, even though it’s kind of exciting that the government keeps buying all these really big companies for us. But it would be even better if we, as taxpayers, could get into the business of bailing out companies that aren’t stupefyingly boring. What are we supposed to do with a bunch of insurance companies and investment banks? Underwrite ourselves?

We should get our hands on some businesses like Rita’s Water Ice or Eastern Mountain Sports. Ooh, or a hibachi place, where they flip the shrimp right into your mouth. Is that too much to ask?

Even with the economy crashing like my sister for the first five years of owning a driver’s license, it’s still possible to find some people who are in the market for discussing puppies.

A co-worker I hadn’t seen in a couple of years stopped by to see me last week. He’d heard that my wife and I recently adopted a pooch, and he couldn’t decide if he really wanted a dog, too, or if he was just telling his wife that so she’d stop talking about getting a cat.

“I’ve never had a puppy before. Would you recommend the experience?” he asked.

“Oh, no. It’s awful,” I said.

In truth, I love having a young dog, but I hated having a tiny puppy. I mean, perhaps it’s impossible to actually HATE having a puppy. That would be like hating vanilla or Miley Cyrus or bubbles. But having a little excrement-producing machine running loose on your new carpet, chewing the power cord on your laptop and waking you up three times a night to go stand in the backyard in your underwear, shivering and swatting mosquitoes as the suddenly non-excrement-producing machine pounces on leaves and taste-tests every stick under the big maple tree, that part definitely took a little getting used to.

“But you do it out of love,” I explained to my co-worker, “And also so you don’t end up with a pixilated face as they raid your house on an episode of Animal Cops.”

You can bail Mike Todd out at


  1. You must give us a link to your friend Johnny's blog where we will probably see a post saying how he wanted to talk about the bail as his friend Mike kept banging on about his dog!

    Happy birthday, btw.

  2. Did you really teach Memphis to roll over?

  3. JL -- Thanks man! And maybe that would be the post on Johnny's blog, if he updated it more than annually.

    Anna -- Dude, sort of. She only does it when nobody's looking, and if you're standing on the other side of a closed door when you ask her. At least I assume that's what she's doing in there.