While suffering through our last winter snow storm in New York, my husband, Dick, and I looked at one another and asked “What in heaven’s name are we doing here?” The answer to that question led us to leave the great white north and head to the sunshine state (Florida, of course) where we bought a lovely condo on the Atlantic Ocean. The joys of beautiful sunrises and sunsets, walks on the beach and lack of responsibility too soon turned into frequent visits from all of our children and lack of space. So, we bought a house and set about replacing all the tools and equipment we had so gleefully sold or given away just a short time before.

When we moved to our new home in this lovely little neighborhood, approximately five years ago, there were just the two of us, my husband and I. We didn’t have a dog. Our next door neighbors didn’t have dogs. The closest dogs were at least three houses away. And, when I started to walk my usual morning five miles, there were very few people out with dogs.

For us, having a dog is a new exciting experience. We have had dogs before, of course, but we also had jobs and kids. Now, we only have a dog. And what a dog he is! The truth is, he isn’t a dog. He is a sweet, affectionate, smart little boy with hair. Lots of hair. More hair than most little boys. He is a Standard Poodle. And, as we often tell our kids, “He (Rocky) is the best kid we’ve ever had!”

It all started with my walking. When we moved from the beach, I traded my walks on the sand for miles of macadam. Now, I took to the streets with gusto. Imagine my charging down the street (at least for the first mile), on my way to a slimmer, healthier me. On the way, I always ran into this couple who had their dogs out for their morning walk, and we always nodded and said “Good Morning” as neighbors are known to do. One morning, the woman, Sue, said that I really needed someone with whom to walk. I said, “I do have someone to walk with, but he’s home sleeping.” I, of course, was talking about my husband. She, of course, was talking about a dog. The “Good Mornings” and the friendly references to walking companions went on for many months until one day Sue said:“ I’m getting a new puppy…a Standard Poodle…you’ll have to see him”. I expressed my delight for her and said that I would be happy to meet him.

Well, within the next couple of weeks, I met Sue’s new puppy, Sam. He was absolutely adorable. Not that all puppies aren’t adorable; of course they are. But, Sam was absolutely adorable. Here was this bundle of black fluff and well, you know, I fell in love with him immediately. That, my friends, was the end for me. I was doomed.

Sue said, “I know that my breeder has a few more puppies left, but you’ll have to act fast.” You see, the breeder had two litters four days apart, so she had more puppies at one time than usual. But, I thought that perhaps I had one more out. So, I gave it a try. “Sue, I can’t possibly think of taking a puppy at this time, you see, Dick and I have already made arrangements to go to France for six weeks and there is no way I’m going to put a little puppy in a kennel for that time.”

I had underestimated Sue, though. Without a moment’s hesitation she responded “That’s okay, we’ ll take care of him”. I was incredulous. I replied “You’ve got to be kidding…that’s six weeks…and you haven’t even consulted with Bill.” With that parting shot, we said our good-byes and off I went to continue my walk.

Well, I don’t think I had traveled more than half a mile when a SUV pulled up next to me. You’re right. It was Sue and Bill. They couldn’t wait to tell me that they would be more than happy to take care of my puppy for the six weeks we were going to be away. I must admit, not only did I think that these people were out of their minds, I also thought that they were wonderful! And, I was getting a puppy!

When I arrived home, I walked through the door and announced to my husband, “We’re getting a puppy! We’re getting a puppy!” You can only imagine the look on his face. He said “We’re getting a WHAT?” I am sure he thought that I had finally lost it. But, we were getting a puppy! And, I was getting someone to walk with.

I got all the information from Sue regarding the breeder, Sondi, and made arrangements to meet her. When we arrived at her home (kennel), not only were we greeted warmly by our breeder, but by what sounded like hundreds of dogs. Nobody was going to mount a sneak attack here.

We thought we were going to interview Sondi. Wrong! First, we sat and chatted for a while as to what we were looking for in a dog, then she brought out “the girls.” “The girls” were all of her adult females. They looked us over…we looked them over. One was preparing for show and had her hair up in ribbons, one was the mother of our prospective puppy, and all were friendly and absolutely charming.

I guess we passed the first part of the test because then she brought out “the boys”…the two most adorable white (cream, actually) poodle puppies I have ever seen. They ran around, tails wagging, investigating us as well as every nook and cranny of the room. And, when they traveled a little too far afield, Sondi would call them back with a sweet and simple “I don’t think so.”