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after several weeks of chilly fall temperatures, the weather relented one weekend and dealt the city a beautiful saturday afternoon. we quickly plotted an outside event and invited friends to join us. we ended up going to art hill to fly kites. we for sure weren't the only people to have this idea because the hill was littered with all sorts of folks basking under the warm sun reading and visiting and relaxing.

we hadn't even picked a spot to sit before bella spied four twenty-something girls camped out on a blanket. one of them had a dog which was lazing next to the girls as they drank wine and laughed and ate food from a picnic basket. bella naturally gravitated towards them and asked if she could pet their dog. this is bella's M.O., all the way, walking up to strangers with dogs and asking if she can dote on their pet for a bit. inevitably the owners say yes. inevitably, bella will take a knee and start petting and cooing at the dog. inevitably the dog perks up to the attention and adores bella. in short time, the humans follow suit and adore bella as does the canine. bella then launches into her oft-delivered and well-honed speech about how we are getting pets once her youngest brother learns how to go potty on the toilet. and how we will be getting two dogs. and how bella would like to get pregnant dogs because it's a secret way of getting way more than just two dogs. and how her mother doesn't want a dog but everyone else in the family does so she's outvoted. and how we have to get a dog that doesn't shed because she and her mother are allergic. and how bella's trying to figure out how to have the dog sleep in bed with her and not in a stuffy old plastic crate. the girls all smile and fawn over bella's detailed, passionate and voluntary explanation of her future plans all delivered while tussling and playing with the dog that brought her to their circle in the first place.

meanwhile, i'm setting up kites for the boys which are far more winsome objects for them than any silly ole dog. while working, i occasionally glance over towards bella. one time she was throwing the dog's ball, ignoring the girls. another time she was sitting on the blanket with the girls, petting the dog's head that was now resting in her lap. another time i saw her face in full story mode and the girls laughing and smiling at her detail rich bella-tales. after the boys had kites in the air, i looked over to bella again. this time she was standing with a camera to her face and all the girls were leaning into one another with a big fake sorority girl smiles while bella took their picture. after doing so she handed the camera back to one of the girls and sat back down. anyone walking onto this scene would never guess that bella was in any way connected to us but would instead think she was the little sister of one of the blanket girls.

after a bit, bella will stand and excuse herself and return to us. we will get a short but detailed synopsis about the dog and the people she just met. if we're lucky she will get through the entire update before spying the next dog and asking if she can go ask to pet it. we concede and the cycle begins anew.

in between dog visits bella took a turn flying one of the kites. there wasn't a great amount of wind so she and alex were having to run across the face of the hill to get them up and going. marty and i were watching bella charge across the grass with the kite in tow, and chatting about how precious the scene was as she somewhat successfully dodged blankets and bikes and people dotting the hill. about twenty feet in front of where bella was at this moment, a guy in sweat pants and no shirt started jogging down the hill and then launched himself into these handless cartwheels. he effortlessly spun off four of five of them. this was wholly unexpected and because so, quite breathtaking. there was no doubt that bella saw this because she immediately stopped running and stared at this man as he whimsically threw his body down the grade. the kite animatedly fluttered to the ground behind bella, as if metaphorically connected to her attention span.

while she watched the carny finish up his antics, she spotted another group of girls with a dog, and ran to their setup, absentmindedly dragging the kite behind her. after about fifteen minutes i moseyed over to collect bella to our spot and spare the girls of too much bella-time. when i arrived the dog was no longer able to chase the ball bella was offering to throw as it sat panting mightily. one of the girls told me tiring her dog out was no small feat and bella had done so before even finishing her own canned dog saga. i motioned bella towards me, told her to thank the girls for letting her play with their dog and began walking back to our spot with my arm around her shoulder. as we walked i looked down the hill and saw a man and woman with what appeared to be a tiny, tiny dog. i nudged bella's shoulder and pointed toward this dog. bella shrieked and bolted towards the couple. i slowly followed her and by the time i arrived this five week old puppy was already joyfully mauling bella with tiny leaps and rolls as it threw its body into bella's playing hands and open arms. for the first time ever, bella and i were equally smitten with a dog we met. i also took a knee to play with the dog and talked to the owners for close to twenty minutes. in the end, bella and i asked if we could show the dog to the rest of our family, both of us secretly thinking this could be the dog to win over marty.

regarding working marty, i can't recall if i've previously discussed marty's position about pets. the first time i raised the topic with her several years ago she stated, quite reflexively, that if i was prepared to deal with ALL the facets of the dog's care then i was ready for a dog. i asked her to elaborate on the "all" in her sentence. she said, "for instance, when you go on your annual week-long ski trip, if the dog is catatonic in front of its empty water dish and is moments from death and just needs a cup of water poured in its bowl to survive, i will not pour a cup or even a drop of water in there and will watch the dog die, right there on my kitchen floor where, mind you, it will be when you return from your trip to deal with". i studied my wife for a moment. not a soul would need a fancy lie detector apparatus to see she was being one hundred percent truthful. a naive part of me has thought since that conversation that marty has just not met the right dog and here i was now with what i thought might be that right dog. when we presented the yipping puppy to marty and the boys. the boys ran up, slid to their knees and immediately started playing with the dog. marty looked down and said cute dog. she then turned to resume the conversation she was in when we approached. that's what you call, no sale.

but there is another hope and her name is bella, the other unreasonably strong woman who lives in my home. bella was double ready before seeing that playful cur and now she also has me with fanciful visions of the cute pup. it's actually to the point that i've started asking more serious questions of people i know with dogs which is a real sign this thing is really going to happen. although, i've gotten one bit of feedback i wasn't expecting. perhaps someone reading this has thoughts or opinions about this and can drop me a line, weighing in. the question is this: when we got a dog, i've been planning on getting two at the same time. in my mind i always thought that i would get them from the same litter. but, someone recently told me that that is a rookie move. does anyone have experience with this? is it bad to get two dogs from the same litter at the same time (brother/sister or same gendered) or should i get them one at a time and at different times and from different litters and different breeds even? any advice or insights would be appreciated. and any luck or good karma you can send my way would be appreciated as well.

NOV2009

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