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Arlo, our pitbull-lab mix looks like a big doofus, but continues to surprise us with how smart he really is.

He is only two years old and has more energy than we do. We have several different routes to choose from for our walks, depending on our own energy level. Some of these allow us the opportunity to let him off leash for part of the walk, freeing him to run around and wear himself out.

The other day mom was walking Arlo in the wooded area behind the elementary school. She let him off leash and he took off running like a wild dog through the bushes chasing squirrels and random scents.

Most of the time he stays close to us and returns in short order. But as time went by, mom kept walking and the dog wasn’t coming back. She began calling him, and then calling more, and still no Arlo. By then, mom’s getting closer to the elementary school and starting to worry. Arlo is usually friendly with kids, but he’s a big dog with pitbull looks and the adults tend to freak.

Mom was pissed and yelling for the dog. She approached the school, where cars were lining up at the end of the day.

“You lookin’ for a big-ass dog?” one of the parents asked.

“Yeah…”

“He went that way,” they said, pointing around the building toward the school buses.

The buses were loading and swarming with kids. It would just like him to jump on a bus. Mom stumped her way in that direction, still yelling for Arlo.

“You lookin’ for a big-ass dog?” one of the bus drivers asked her.

“Yeah,” she groaned with a nod.

“He went that way,” he said pointing to the street.

Oh, no! He’s not running through traffic, is he?

“He is in SO much trouble!”

Mom was now fuming mad and still yelling for the d**med dog.

She walked the two blocks to the neighborhood church where there were a couple ladies outside.

“You lookin’ for a big-ass dog?”

“Yeah…” mom growled.

“He went that way and left around the corner.”

That was our street. They were pointing in the direction of home.

“No, he didn’t…” mom muttered.

She was steaming, now. And just a little impressed.

The little sh*t went home.

She continued to yell all the way down the street expecting him to come out and meet her. But as she approached the house and passed the last tree, she saw Arlo sitting calmly in the front yard waiting for her.

How could she be mad at him? He went home like a good boy.

The story I got from Arlo was that mom got lost.

It’s hard to argue with that.

We now have a DOG. It is a CAPITAL LETTER DOG. In fact, a heavy breathing, barge through your day, take your spot, steam-powered DOG.

My wife and I have wanted a dog for a few years. Anytime we saw someone walking their companion in the park or saw a head sticking out a car window with ears flapping, we would turn to each other and in unison say:  “We need a dog!” We even purchased a home after years of renting – and liking it – with the intention of getting a dog. I didn’t want to limit a dog to an apartment or a tiny little postage stamp yard. So, we set the goal of having a big backyard before we got a dog. We now have a half-acre of dog-ready yard. And a couple of weeks ago, we finally got a dog.

My wife and I differed on our preferred model of dog. We both wanted a larger dog because we hate little barky dogs and wanted something our cats couldn’t beat up on. We wanted one that was smart and not a puppy. We don’t have the energy for a puppy and wanted them mostly trained already. Neither of us is well-versed at being dog parents and didn’t want to ruin the poor thing.

My wife fell in love with pitbulls a few years ago and was dead set on getting one. I’m more of a German shepherd or hound kind of guy. But, of course, she won. The dog was meant for her anyway. I’m solidly a cat person and could go through the rest of my life without a dog. Yet, we now have one.

ARLO is a pit-bull-lab mix and, again, is CAPITAL letter-worthy. He is intelligent and stubborn, and very well-behaved. He is only aggressive in his friendliness; he will lick your face off! He is only a year and a half old and still partly in the puppy stage, which is exhausting.

And now, several weeks into our dog years, we are exhausted. I can honestly say that there have been some fleeting second thoughts, not quite adopters’ remorse, but… thoughts. I knew that dogs were high maintenance and high attention. I even warned my wife of this. Up till this point, we have always had cats and could basically ignore them most of the time. Cats are self-sufficient and self-entertained. That is why I like them so much. Whereas dogs need your attention, need to go outside, need to be exercised, need your attention, need to be noticed, need to go outside, and need your attention. We were NOT ready for the level of attention ARLO required. It is much like bringing a baby home. Suddenly, your life revolves around this being. ALL OF YOUR LIFE!!

We were also surprised to find that they still make steam-powered dogs. Who knew? Arlo breathes like a steam engine. All…the…time! Chugga Chugga Chugga Toot Toot! Here comes Arlo! We’ve tried having him sleep in our room, but we couldn’t sleep with the chugging. Once he calms down, it gets better, but he fidgets all night. He now has a prime kennel in the dining room. I believe he will eventually be more a part of the family and be able to crash with us. Until then, he gets a private room.

We are adapting and aren’t going to return Arlo or dump him off or anything silly like that. We will modify our life and make it work, just like you would with a new child. I am now in charge of the 5AM walk. I’m not at all sure how that happened; I am NOT a morning person – at all. 5AM is not a waking time. That is a going fishing time or maybe even coming home time after a great Friday night, but NOT a wake-up time. Yet, here I am dressed and vertical, walking the dog every morning. This is not how I imagined my life.

Overall, Arlo is a really good dog with some really poorly trained parents. It will get better; I have faith. We love our steam-powered dog and will build our future around him. But now I’m tired and need to get up in – like – five hours to walk the dog. These are the Dog-years.

I took this photo on a trip to Austria years ago and it’s always been one of my favorites. Just a loyal dog waiting patiently for his owner.

What a great dog!

This would never be my dog. My dog would have run away or followed me into the store or taken off into the store without me. Anything but what a good dog would do, such as this very good dog is demonstrating.

I don’t have a dog, but if I did, he would be an asshole. That’s just the kind of dog parent I am.

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