When my wife and I took a pleasant drive down to Grand Lake Stream a few weeks back, we were not in the market for a new puppy.
At least, as far as I knew we weren’t.
But over the course of a half-hour, all that changed. And I’m happy — if somewhat surprised — to announce that sometime in mid-October the Holyokes will become a two-dog family.
Do me a favor, though: Keep this big news to yourself. Genny the Wonder Dog, the current Queen Pooch of Holyoke Manor, has not yet been told she’ll be sharing attention with a new addition in a matter of weeks.
Not that she’ll mind. Genny has never met a dog or human she doesn’t love. Heck, she even loves her cat-brother, Vinnie the Claw, who sharpens his nails on poor Genny’s snout on a regular basis.
But back to the puppy.
Over the years, I’ve surely forgotten more than I’ve learned. Add this factoid to the things I hope I never forget: If you don’t think you’re in the market for a puppy, make sure your wife never ends up meeting a painfully pregnant, sweet-tempered dog.
If she does (she did), within a matter of hours, you may find yourself reaching out to the mama dog’s owner, asking if all of her pups are spoken for.
On that hot, humid day, Karen and I ended up on the porch of Weatherby’s, the noted hunting and fishing lodge in the village of Grand Lake Stream. I was there to interview the lodge’s owner, Jeff McEvoy. All around us, McEvoy’s English cocker spaniels meandered about.
All except Molly the Enormously Pregnant.
That sweet dog made pals with my wife, leaning up against her leg and panting. It turns out we had arrived on what McEvoy told us was her due date, and a miserable Molly seemed more than ready to rid herself of the burden she was carrying.
After a bit, McEvoy and I wound up our interview, and the topic turned to dogs — his dogs, specifically, and the assertion that his English cockers were top-notch bird dogs.
Another fact we haven’t really shared with Genny the Wonder Dog: When we bought her, I may have been lobbying for a bird dog instead of a greater Swiss Mountain dog-black Lab mix like her.
As it turns out, we fell in love with Genny, and she has been a wonderful companion for the family.
And that, I thought, was that: The Holyokes are a one-dog family. Period.
Or maybe not.
On the ride home from Grand Lake Stream, Karen might have mentioned — once or twice or a dozen times — how much she liked Molly the Enormously Pregnant and how sweet she had been.
“She might have been trying to use you as a shade tree,” I suggested. “It was hot out there.”
Karen was not impressed.
Later, I tried another approach and reminded her about the whole “one-dog family” business.
That didn’t work, either.
A day later, we talked more seriously about adding a member to our family. I was holding firm — or so I thought — until she pulled out her ace and figuratively flipped it onto the table.
“You always said you wanted to get a bird dog,” she said, smiling. “Think of all the fun you two would have.”
That’s when the Holyokes decided to become a two-dog family. Period.
Since then — even though we don’t pick up our new pooch for several more weeks — I’ve been busy.
I’ve begun reading (again) about how to properly train a flushing dog to hunt. I’ve started to research spaniel clubs in the area, knowing I’ll likely need plenty of help and advice. As always, I’ll gladly accept any tips BDN readers want to send along.
And I’ve begun lobbying my wife and stepchildren, suggesting names for our new baby boy.
Thus far, we have not reached a consensus.
But I do know this: Somewhere in his formal AKC name, one word will be included.
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214, and he’s open to hearing your spaniel-training tips. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke