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A Dog’s Life

It’s been a light blogging Christmas week here at Via Meadia.  The staff has deserted the sinking holiday ship, skiing in Switzerland in at least one case.  But the Mead clan has also been absorbing a lot of the attention that in quieter times of the year goes to the blog.  During the last few days I’ve driven from glamorous Queens to Philadelphia and on down to northern Virginia for various holiday festivities with various collections of relatives.

Today I drove back from Virginia to New York — almost eight hours of stop and go driving on the New Jersey Turnpike and its accomplices up and down the Eastern seaboard.  It’s been many years since I made that trip during a holiday week; now I remember why I gave it up.

But the experience that knocked all the blogging spirit out of me this week had nothing to do with traffic.  It was about a dog: my brother’s three children and his wife had long wanted a dog.  That desire reached a fever pitch over Thanksgiving when they spent several days with their cousins’ dog in Philadelphia.  It was clear that a dog had to happen for the Virginia Meads.  Not so clear was how it could happen, and happen in time for the holidays.

After many calls, much consultation, and a certain amount of old fashioned deceit, an eight week old black lab has been tracked down.  The shots have been given, the vet has signed off, solemn oaths have been sworn, and the new Mead dog will be meeting his new family tomorrow night.

For now, they are calling him Riley, though I understand that a determined minority of the children concerned still likes the name Mowgli. ‘Blog’, I fear, was never really in the running.  He is coming in a crate and will have a blanket with his mother’s scent to help him make the transition.  The children have all sworn to take care of him; the mom and dad, remembering their own records of compliance with such promises back in the day, are reconciling themselves to becoming part time puppy parents.  I think this is OK with my brother; he never actually gave permission in so many words for me to gift his family with a dog. (Come to think of it, he did kind of the opposite.  I remember words like “no” and “never” being bandied about, although his children told me he didn’t really mean it and was just being grumpy.)

In general, the family’s experience with labs has been mixed.  Cosmo was an excellent dog and is much missed.  Sam was relocated to a farm after, among other exploits, eating most of a couch.  Sophie falls between these extremes, though if she gets everything she wants, she is generally sweet tempered.  Where Riley or Mowgli falls in the spectrum is of course unknown at this point; something tells me that for the sake of my relationship with my brother, I should be hoping for another Cosmo.

We shall see.

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  • Gary L

    I’m in the mental health profession – one of the families I work with (parents in their 70s, son with a Traumatic Brain Injury in his 40s) just adopted a 9-month old Irish Wolfhound -a very large puppy – and they’ve named him Riley (a singularly appropriate name for a canine dwelling here in the Hoosier State). This is pretty dysfunctional family in many respects, but it’s been very gratifying to see them setting aside their personal issues and working together to provide for Riley’s best interests. I hope the new Mead family Riley (or Mowgli) works out just as well.

  • joe

    So you ignored the wishes of your own brother to placate the desires of your cute nieces and nephews, well good for you, that is what “cool” Uncles do.

    My Uncle got me a Weimaraner and I’ll never forget it.

  • Luke Lea

    Congratulations! Time for me to get a new dog too.

  • Kris

    “‘Blog’, I fear, was never really in the running.”

    Roll over, Blog, roll over! Bad Blog!

    • Walter Russell Mead

      @Kris: not to mention the possibility of being a running blog of imperialism…

  • Philip

    The philadelphia cousins decided to add another dog to the clan as well. Scouring websites with puppy pictures is apparently not conducive to keeping resolutions about NEVER GETTING ANOTHER DOG after Sam.

  • Kris

    WRM@6, it must truly be the season for giving. Think of how much money you could make by selling the rights for “Running Blog of Imperialism” as a blog name!

  • Soul

    Adorable story! I’ve sometimes wondered if I should have gotten a dog instead of a cat. At the time I recall thinking a cat would be better for me as it would require less attention. Cats also are supposed to clean up after themselves. With my cat though it hasn’t exactly worked out that way. For kitties he is quite dirty and needy. But with that said, he is my pal. I wouldn’t trade him in. I thing a dog though would be more loving than the pet I have.

    Thought to mention it’s time for me to go. I’m doing pretty well health wise, which is always a plus. So hopfully I can do other activities. Plus I’m just tired of all the attention I’m receiving. It seems anymore anything I do is scrutinized over. I get similar also on the web, which makes me realize I’m not in the safest position for myself or my family. So very best of luck in 2012. Looks to be an interesting year with all the economic turmoil in the world. Hopfully the markets will not crash! But if I’m healthy for a change, I’ll still consider it one of my luckiest years lived.

  • James

    “No” and “never” is approximately what my father used to say up until we got an American foxhound in ’97.

  • Corlyss

    I’m with Joe. Good for you!

  • Kansas Scott

    Our family went through the pains this week found on the other end of pet ownership. I had to hold the head of our 14-year old black lab mix Sam as he slipped away.

    Our family’s first reaction was to ask ourselves why we put ourselves through this pain. Our family’s next reaction was remembering all of the crazy, frustrating, bizarre and fulfilling experiences Sam had lead us through for so long.

    Our three-year old corgi greeted me with confusion when I had returned from the vet’s office without Sam. I asked him to try to not be quite so stupid so that he could live at least half as long as Sam. No idea what he thought about that but I do know that our family’s fabric is richer for having pets woven into it.

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