Back in our days in Virginia, when I was just a budding sportsman wannabe, I had a dream of having my own bird dog. I researched breeds and research breeders. Occasionally, the anticipation of an event ends up being far different than the eventual reality of it. This is especially true if you don’t share your puppy plans with your wife. Trust me; this I know.
First, some background. My wife Karen had decided that she’d like to leave work and stay home to raise our daughters. Katie was 5 and Maddie was 2 by the time this was economically viable. I figured that with Karen staying home, there couldn’t be a better time to get that Brittany puppy I had always wanted (since I talked myself into it). While we hadn’t discussed it, I was certain Karen would warm up to the idea of a puppy once she met the little fella. I mean, who doesn’t love a puppy. Heck, I’d even take some vacation time to house train the pup Karen’s last week of work.
I found a good breeder up in Cape May, New Jersey – only about 3 hours from where we lived. Katie was in on the plan. No 5-year old ever kept a secret better than Katie and boy was she excited. I told Karen I was taking Katie “fishing” for the day. (Note to new fathers, if you lie to your wife don’t involve the children.) We had to swing by my office in DC on our way out because my coworkers had held a puppy shower for me and all the new dog stuff was in the office. Katie thought this was a great adventure.
Where was Maddie you might ask. Maddie was at daycare oblivious to my evil plans and trying to ingest small toys. This would also play a part in my inevitable downfall.
Katie and I arrive at Quail Hollow Kennels and it is time to pick a puppy. Steve Del Rossi brings out the litter I was interested in and Katie and I pick out a nice puppy. He is a cute little orange and white Brittany. We name him Burdock. We are pretty certain Karen will be surprised and delighted. She was certainly surprised.
When we arrived home at the townhouse all the neighbors came out to see the new puppy. I am sure all the neighborhood wives were wishing they had such a spontaneous and thoughtful husband. Boy, wasn’t Karen the lucky woman?!
Katie and I bring Burdock in the house to get him used to his surroundings so he will feel comfortable peeing all over the floor. The phone rings and it is Karen. Everything was going great until I answered the phone. I’m talking with Karen and Burdock decides that he should say hello, so he starts to bark…just a little. All of a sudden my sweet bride is silent. “That better not be a puppy,” she says. “What? That noise, I’m not sure what that is,” I lie (again). “Huh,” I think. “She doesn’t seem to be too pleased with this yet.”
Now the neighbors know that this puppy is a surprise to Karen, so they decide to wait outside for Karen to come home from work to see her reaction to my thoughtfulness. Karen arrives, looks at the puppy, looks at me, drops off her work bag and leaves the house. Katie picked up on Karen’s mood right away. She was a very perceptive child. “Daddy, Mommy didn’t seem happy to see the puppy.” I fed the girls dinner and waited for Karen to come back home. She eventually did, with new shoes, the result of some shopping therapy.