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Love at last sight. (Roundabout).

`The only good dog is a dead dog,' I've been known to mutter, only half-jokingly, as some muddy hound has bounded up to me leaving paw prints that would make a forensic expert drool--in the unlikely event that I should ever want to bring criminal charges against the owner.

I certainly wasn't a `dog person'. I found it hard to produce a polite smile when, having picked up my then toddler daughter to save her from the attentions of a rottweiler, the owner cheerily remarked, `He's very playful, isn't he?'

Students of psychology may be interested to know that I was molested by a great dane as a child. In truth it was just being playful, but being flattened was not my idea of fun. Also, having a vivid imagination, I could see all too clearly the impact that those canines--teeth, not dogs--would have if a canine--dog, not tooth--ever bit me.

A word of warning to prospective fathers: one of the dangers is that you may find that your daughter wants a pet. My wife was beginning to waver but I remained impervious to Vicky's demands--until my wife and I read her message to Father Christmas: `Please can I have a puppy, signed Vicky. PS I hope I aren't being greedy.'

`Who will walk it and feed it? What if we want to go away? Will it destroy the family home?'

Such pertinent questions seemed to matter less to my wife and me than giving our daughter her heart's desire. Middle age stodginess was an insufficient reason to say `no', we finally decided, so a year or so ago we acquired a miniature schnauzer at no small expense.

For those unfamiliar with the breed, picture a `salt and pepper' coloured terrier with a moustache and beard that any Victorian gentleman would have died for.

Yes, Blue does scratch the wallpaper; yes, she is expensive to put in kennels when we go away; no she hasn't bitten me (yet); and yes, I do love taking her for walks (even when we meet the local great dane).

Blue has deep brown eyes, outrageously beguiling. Fortunately her needs are simple and her demands unvarying--food, play, food, exercise, food, sleep.... She is a great addition to the family--and who needs wallpaper anyway?

The other day I even found myself offering sympathy to another dog-owner--a woman until then unknown to me--about her pooch's heart condition. (We dog owners are very thick with each other--just like pram-pushers, bird-watchers and, no doubt, ten-pin bowlers.)

I only hope that my daughter doesn't develop a fondness for snakes.
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Title Annotation:self-confessed dog-hater adopts one
Author:Park, Fletcher Moss
Publication:For A Change
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2002
Words:429
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