Stupid pet trick

My dog likes to ride the luggage cart in my apartment building, standing or sitting and watching the world go by as he relaxes. It’s cute, but the real coup will be when I teach him to skateboard.

Another dog story

My dog Charley accompanied me to Florida again last month, where we met up with the in-laws and sister-in-law and her family, including my nephew, Noah, who has a nice personal relationship with the dog.

One evening I go to take Charley for a quick walk and Noah (now three and a half years old) motions to the leash. I hand Noah the reins and the three of us go outside.

As we approach the dog’s preferred area, I tell Noah, “Now, if you say ‘Charley, go pee!’ he’ll pee for us.”

Noah, on cue: “Charley, go pee!”

Charley does his little half-squat-half-leg-lift and begins to relieve himself. Noah, fascinated, slowly cocks his head and body down and sideways to watch the dog go.

Pooch finishes fast. Nephew looks up at me. “Charley go little pee.”

“Yeah, Noah, sometimes he only has to go a little.”

Noah, with pride and his arms outstretched: “I go BIG pee!”

Dog walk 3

Nearly midnight and freezing. The return of Arctic chill has cleared the streets; tonight is among the quietest I’ve seen Union Square, before the subway lets out, that is. A young man, stoned and chatty, exits my building with me, asks for the nearest ATM, then disappears. The temperature is easily below zero fahrenheit when the wind whips, which is often. My wool hat itches my widow’s peaks; my earmuffs hush the already quiet side street. I am nicely alone, chilled but peaceful, head filled with sophomoric prose trying to commemorate the evening, impatient to get home.

The dog, on the other hand, charges ahead, wholly unaffected by the cold, straining his leash to investigate every scent and speck, wondering why no other dogs are in the run. Because it’s cold, Dog, that’s why. If only we all had his fur coat.

Life with a dog

Charley is sitting on the sofa while I work next to him on the computer. He is chomping away contentedly on a hard, hollow bone.

At one point, the bone clatters to the floor and slides under the coffee table. The pooch puts his head on his hands, stares at the bone, and whines a little. Whether he dropped it on purpose to get my attention or it just fell off the cushion remains a mystery.

Sometimes I let him deal with these issues on his own. Today I come to his rescue.

“What is it, pup?” I ask him (I always talk to him, like an old lady with a cat instead of a husband, never mind that I have a fiancee who’s a good listener), kneeling down on the floor in front of him.

Charley looks up at me, gives me a happy lick on the chin, then furrows his brow—dogs furrow their brows; it’s what makes them more aw-shucks lovable than cats—and stares back at his bone.

“You want your bone back? Gimme another kiss and you can have it.” Smart dog that he is, Charley licks me on the nose. I pick up the bone and toss it on the sofa to his left, expecting him to pounce on it and get back to his fun.

Instead, Charley looks back at me and gives me two big licks on the cheek, as if to say thanks. Then he happily goes back to his chewing.

No number of early and late walks in the rain is too many for such simple affection.

On the dog

Fun things to know about my new puppy Charley.

Things to know about Charley.

~ He is a coton de tulear, or more casually, a coton, pronounced “koh-TAHN.”

~ Charley was born July 13, which makes him just shy of three months old. He weighed six pounds at the vet September 30 and should grow to between 12 and 15 pounds as an adult. Technically, he was my fiancee’s birthday present, six months late, but Amy has declared him to be our dog, not hers.

~ With the exceptions of barking to get attention and nipping when playful, Charley is an extremely well-adjusted and well-behaved puppy. He is friendly and only a little bit shy; when confined he is paper-trained.

~ He likes his crate and sleeps through the night without complaint, unless we return home late—say, from a wedding at 3 a.m.—at which point he gets rambunctious and keeps me busy for two hours of play time.

~ Charley will chew on anything he can find. Literally. He likes his toys and anything stringed, like shoelaces, but he has discovered everything from pillowcases to cardboard boxes to the molding on the kitchen doorway.

~ He likes to see the world from his travel bag (well, he doesn’t complain) and he is very relaxed in a car (but not a taxi, just like his mommy).

~ Charley doesn’t shed, which helps keep the apartment looking clean. He does have stinky poop, which does not help keep the apartment smelling clean.

~ We have a webcam that allows us to monitor the puppy during the day. We did it for security purposes, but it’s just plain fun. (I’m not posting the URL online but it is available upon request.)

~ Having a puppy is hard, hard work, and worth every minute of it.


The subject was a year in gestation, the process lengthy and educational. Seven months passed from the first phone calls until the event; for a while, we were delayed, and we weren’t sure it would ever happen.

But on a happy dairy farm outside Montreal last weekend, Charley was waiting for us, and at long last, we have an adorable, incredible puppy.