About Me

I am a second-career teacher. In my other life, I crunched numbers as an accountant. Probably would have made a great math teacher had the thought occurred to me. No matter, I'm where I'm supposed to be; teaching third grade. Before that, 2nd grade and before that kindergarten. I have 2 grown daughters, 2 poodles, and 1 hubby. I live and work on Long Island.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Ralph and Norton

When our girls were little, I began a campaign to convince my husband that we needed a dog. “They’re not used to dogs,” I told him. “They need to get used to dogs,” He wouldn’t budge. He worried that the job of taking care of a dog would ultimately fall on his shoulders. Since he was busy growing a new business, he felt he couldn’t take on any additional household responsibilities. And furthermore, his argument about his allergies was something I couldn’t ignore.

Arguments aside, I still wanted a dog. After all, I grew up in a family that babysat the friends’ dogs, took in stray dogs, and adopted dogs from the shelter. Not to mention the cute little Labrador puppy and the angry full grown Shih Tzu my Uncle Arthur brought to our house knowing my mom would never say no.

I begged; I cajoled; I even bribed. Until one year, sometime before the holidays rolled around, Cary started to cave. I had chipped away at him until he admitted a cute little puppy might just be the perfect gift for our daughters, then nine and six and still uncomfortably inexperienced around dogs.

We chose a 6 week-old chocolate brown poodle. Actually, I let Cary choose him. To be honest, I think our puppy chose us. He was tiny and perfect and HYPOALLERGENIC! We couldn’t wait to pick him up and surprise the girls. We spent hours discussing the perfect name. Coming up with Norton from our beloved Honeymooners sealed the deal.

Norty was the perfect dog. He was gentle and affectionate and helped our daughters become dog lovers. He was easy going. He’d sit on my lap as I sipped my morning coffee and read the newspapers. He slept in his crate until we were ready to have him sleep in our bedroom. He posed for photos with hats and costumes. He sat still and played fetch. He was part of the fabric of our lives.

We were all heartbroken when he passed on at the young age of eight. Crying, we buried him in the rain in our backyard and planted a dogwood tree in his memory. As sad as we all were, it was Cary who insisted we not wait and get another dog right away. It seemed that Cary bonded with Norton in a way that I never could have predicted. And so, I agreed to another puppy but not without being persuaded, sweet-talked, and bribed.

Ralph was the runt of the litter. Utterly unique, he is not without “issues.” He never once slept in his crate.  Often, he wakes up at three a.m. to pee. He tapdances throughout the night on the wooden floor in our bedroom where he has his own bed at the foot of ours. He won’t eat his lunch from the same bowl as his breakfast. His water must always be cold and never served at room temperature.

Hey there, Ralphie boy!
He is awfully cute, and part of the special poodle club with an apricot coat. Even though he refuses to give back the ball or come when he is called, Ralphie is well loved.

Now it is me who does not want to wait to get another puppy; this time a black one. I think we’ll name her Trixie.


  1. True dog lovers! Ralphie sure sounds like he's king of the palace. After our first family dog died, my husband said we would never get another one. Never. Ever. Years later he was the one suggesting a new puppy. So now we get to love another dog.

  2. It is amazing how a pet can become such an important member of the family. I have had dogs and cats...and lots of others animals for pets...our family often taking in the strays...as it sounds like your family did. Norty and Ralph have brought joy and fun to your family...each in his own way. Loved your story and it touched my heart. Jackie http://familytrove.blogspot.com/

  3. I read posts like this and dream about having my first furry best friend! I worry that at this point, I don't have the time or money to handle one well on my own, and so, I will keep enjoying watching and reading about the ways that other people love their dogs well! Thanks for sharing!

  4. Awww! Nothing like those four legged family members! Ralph sounds like quite a character and I definitely think you need another one! I have labs now, but my very first dog was a chocolate brown poodle named Cocoa. He was a great family dog!

  5. Ralphie looks so cute. Aren't we the lucky ones when these 4 footed companions choose us. I could so relate to your slice.

  6. I grew up with dogs in my family and as an adult in an apartment never caved in to the romance of having one. Your slice offers the best and worst about sharing life with a pet. Hmmm... still holding off.


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