My new best friend

Sitting in a home office writing stuff can get lonely. No, let me rephrase that. Many people think that sitting in a home office writing stuff can get lonely and by many people I mean the rest of my family. They’ve been dropping a lot of hints about friendship lately, how nice it is to make friends, and how I should get out more.

Well, see, I don’t make friends. I buy them. And I only go for the best.

And who’s man’s best friend? Who? Whoooooo’s man’s best frieeeeend, come here, boy!

That’s right. A dog.

Like many other things, choosing your best friend used to be much easier. As a kid, you could just go to another kid and announce to him or her that you’d be friends. (Although, that worked for me when I met Wife, as well).

Now, we had a dog when I was a kid, but I wasn’t involved with the decision-making at all. On our way home from my aunt’s place, I overheard Dad ask Mom if “they should do it”, and by do it, they meant getting one of the puppies my aunt had.

They did.

The next day, Dad drove back to his sister’s place and – according to the family legend, I wasn’t there – when he approached their pen, all the other dogs rushed to the front to greet him, except for one. And that’s the one he picked. (That’s how I was raised, too, so you won’t see me rush to the door when the doorbell rings, I’ll be sitting in my chair, way back. It’s never for me anyway).

In fairness, Dad’s method worked wonders, the dog was my best friend from first grade until I graduated from high school, and he was also the co-founder – and vice chairman and Member Number Two – of at least the Tarzan Club, the Tex Willer Club, and the Asterix Club I founded. He was also the Devil to my Phantom, and the lion and crocodile to my Tarzan.

But now that I’m the one choosing my own new best friend, things get complicated. Somehow, there’s more pressure. This time, I have to get it just right and there are so many variables to consider – and to get right.

The size, to begin with. I’d like to have a dog that’s not too small, but also not too big. Big enough so it won’t fit inside my backpack but small enough to be able to sit under the kitchen table at breakfast. Big enough to be able to walk up the stairs on his own but small enough for me to be able to carry it down the stairs if need be. Bigger than Tintin’s Snowy, smaller than Beethoven.

That narrows things down a little, but just a little.

Similarly, I’d like a dog that’s hairy but not too hairy so that it feels soft but doesn’t leave hair on my clothes when he jumps up to greet me when I get home. And the hair should cover the entire body, so French poodles, don’t try to fool me with your law of averages.

Also, I want to find a dog that looks better than me so that when people see us and think, “oh, look how funny, the dog and his master look alike” they’ll see the beautiful dog first and in their brain, I’ll be beautiful, too. I’m sorry bulldogs, you’re out, as is the whatever breed “Droopy” was.

Since I’m looking for a best friend, I’d like someone with same interests as me. Not all of them, I’m all for trying out new things, but we should share some interests. For instance, I like to play catch so my buddy should have a high ball IQ, but since I’m not big on sudoku or crossword puzzles, a regular regular IQ will do just fine. Although, I do crack some funny jokes every once in a while, so he should be able to keep up with those.

I don’t want a copy of me, of course, so we don’t have to share all the same tastes. He doesn’t have to like coffee but it’d be nice if he tapped the floor with his tail when I listen to 80s pop, or that he could choose just the right baseball hat for me in the morning, based on my mood and clothes. He should also be a good conversationalist. (As a side note, he doesn’t have to be a he, he can be a she, I’m open-minded.)

I guess s/he should have a name, not just “Dog” like Columbo’s dog in the TV show. And I suppose a dog is entitled to a proper name, too, with a first name and a last name? Are dogs like royalty who are only referred to by their first name although they do have a last name, too? What about nicknames? If I call my dog Billy, should he really be a William … Da Vinci? Or would I technically be adopting him? Would he get my last name? Billy Pakarinen. Billy P. No, the other dogs would make fun of Willie Pee.

I can already see us. I’m behind a desk with a cup of coffee, he’s on the floor digging the music, and laughing at my jokes. Risto and Billy. Billy and Risto. I like that!

Or maybe Rocky?

Yeah, Billy and Rocky. Buddies.

Perfect.

How does that make you feel?