My sister and I had been working on my mother’s defenses about getting another dog.  Ever since the runaway Tasha episode, we’d all been missing the presence of a dog in the house.  We told my mother that we thought it would help with the ever increasing tension with my brother in the house; everyone softens up around a dog.  Plus, a watchdog was a great idea since our robbery.   Finally, one day that summer, my mother relented.

We all agreed that we would get a dog from the local animal shelter.  We liked the idea of giving a home to a dog that would otherwise have none.  However, my mother was working during the hours that the shelter was opened.   So she did what she did with every other errand that she couldn’t take care of; she sent my sister to do it.

So my sister and her girlfriend went to the pound.  They were armed with my mother’s strict instructions.  She wanted them to adopt an adult dog, one that was already house trained and fixed.  That would ensure the dog would be calm and not time consuming to train.  She asked them to find a dog that wouldn’t shed, like Tasha had been;  Tasha’s small Yorkie size would also be a good idea.  Finally, she told them that they had to find a dog that looked like a Ralph.  Ever since she was a child, she wanted a dog that “could say its own name”.   With just the right intonation, my mother could make a dog barking sound that could be interpreted as “Ralph”.

I waited for the girls to come home.  And that afternoon, they brought home their selection.

“Here’s Ralph!” she shouted as she walked with him up the steps.  He was pulling hard on the leash.

Ralph looked nothing like any of the instructions that my mother had given them.  Instead of an adult, non shedding Yorkie sized dog, my sister had brought home a twenty pound six month old Beagle mix puppy.  Adorable.  Friendly.  Not fixed.  And not even close to being house trained.  My mother was going to kill my sister.

She called him a “Roseville junk yard dog”.  She yelled at my sister for not following her instructions.  But Ralph jumped up on her and started licking her face and nudging her hand to pet him.  Finally, she reached down and patted his head and laughed.

Ralph was  here to stay.


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