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Guilty pleasures.

I met my fiancee Barbara seven years ago. We were both divorced with grown children, living large and free as permanent emptynesters.

Or so I thought. Six years into weekends of spontaneous getaways and ovemighters to the White Mountains, the nest had a new member.

Even though I had never owned a dog, I like them and enjoy their company. Turns out my mate's feelings for canine companionship ran deeper than mine.

As a former dog owner, her subtle salesmanship became a bit more urgent as time went by. Barbara would endlessly surf websites for dogs from our spot on the family room conch. I pretended to not notice, despite her ever-present clicking to the Macy's women's wear page whenever she thought I might be snooping.

With time and more gentle persuasion, Barbara convinced me that not only would I love a pet, but dog owners live longer, happier lives.

"But I've already made it to 61 and I'm in great health," I shot back. "Besides, living to 100 has never been on my bucket list."

Basia, our King Charles Cavalier/Bichon/ Shih Tzu mix, arrived, and little did I know that along with the standard-issue adorable puppy face, this particular canine model came complete with the optional guilt package, which would unexpectedly play out in my favor at Christmas time.

Then, about a month ago, came the surprise announcement from Barb:

"I've been thinking how you compromised and agreed to have Basia join our family in April. Well, I think I can go with your wishes for an artificial Christmas tree this year."

Whether it was my announced concern about a curious puppy drinking tainted Christmas tree water or the simple ticking time bomb of let's-get-a-puppy guilt, I'll never know. I do know that I will never again have to wrestle with a 9-foot-tall tree and its thousands of needles in January ever again.

"I like the Martha Stewart Living tree with 1,500 branch tips," she announced looking at a modestly priced model. "What about you?"

Here was my chance to cheap out and get a $75 tree with 15 tips in the grand tradition of Charlie Brown's sad tree. The guilt card was in my hands this time, and I selected a costlier version with 2,800 tips and 900 pre-wired lights.

And how could I resist the description: "Pre-lit just cut natural Fraser fir"?

At the risk of sounding like a dysfunctional couple, let's agree that guilt is a powerful motivator.

As we drove home, Barbara told me she'd make homemade turkey soup from leftover Thanksgiving scraps after I had already announced I would make turkey tetrazzini for dinner.

Her soup was fabulous. Sometimes guilt is a dish best served hot.

Hear Mike Morin weekdays from 5-10 a.m. on "New Hampshire in the Morning" on 95.7 WZID. Contact him at

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Title Annotation:last word; dog owner
Author:Morin, Mike
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Article Type:Personal account
Geographic Code:1U1NH
Date:Jan 11, 2013
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