Right now the emperor-king Maxx is in a very long "down, stay" at my feet. This is his punishment for biting my husband. He bit J as he was being lifted to out of reach of O's clutching hands. At this time of night, Maxx is customarily spending his time in my lap, being brushed, getting his eyes cleaned, and generally being fussed over.
Maxx joined our family two months ago. My twelve-year-old, G, has been begging for a small dog for about three years. To all her begging, J and I have presented a steadfast and united front of small dog denial. We have two other dogs, Sam and Nell, who are 50-pound herding-breed mixes. Sam likes to pretend she's inclined to eat any dog she encounters, but is sweet as pie with people. Nell is equipped with about 3/4 the nervous energy of any normal border collie. Her neuroses wind her up when anyone blows a raspberry, when the vacuum cleaner is turned on, or when anyone rough-houses. Nell and Sam are certainly enough dog for any family. But three months ago I caved. G's been through a lot this year, and I wanted to do something that would help her to feel really loved and special.
Once I decided we should add another dog to the house, and obtained a lukewarm "ok, we'll think about getting another dog in August" from J, I got all obsessive about finding the perfect dog. G wanted a flat faced breed, specifically an English or French bulldog. The information I found online about the health of both breeds was discouraging, and was especially put off when I started looking for available rescue dogs of either breed. Most had either spinal problems that rendered them incontinent for life, or had one eye due to an untreated congenital eye defect. So bulldogs were out. I consulted online breed selectors, and narrowed the search to Havanese. The Havanese breed description says that they are playful, sweet, and highly trainable. Perfect family dogs. Unfortunately, they are also fairly rare, and therefore difficult to find as rescue dogs. I shifted my attention to Shih Tzus, who are also sweet and playful (but maybe not so trainable), and started searching petfinder.com.
And here is where I think I lost all touch with my rational side with respect to the addition of a new dog. In the year leading up to my parents' divorce when I was a kid, they gave me a Shih Tzu puppy. She was swept out in the tide of things, people, and creatures that were lost in the wake of the divorce. Shih Tzu photos evoked the smell of that puppy's belly. When I found this video on a Friday, the hook was set.
By Saturday at 6:30 AM, the family was packed into the car, ready to go see "Mushu".