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Modern Dad

My brother cried at my wedding because one-eyed Butkus died

By Jon Show.  I’ve had eight animals in my lifetime but none as an adult.

When I was born my parents had a mutt named Barney, named after my grandfather’s best friend. I don’t remember much about him except that he loved pizza crust. He got cancer and for years after he was put down my dad was sad every time we ordered takeout.

After my brother was born we added barn cats—Salt and Pepper—named after their colorings, and a tabby named Sadie, who gave birth, unexpectedly, to kittens.

My brother bonded with the runt of the litter—Joey—until it was run over by our mom’s station wagon. My brother cried for days.

We later acquired a guinea pig—we named it Harriet and no one can recall why. It lived in a cage in the basement laundry room, which was right next to my dad’s home office. It made a lot of noise one night when he was trying to work so he put it in the garage.

It froze to death. My brother was devastated.

Next we had a shepherd/lab mix that I gave to my high school girlfriend for Valentine’s Day. The puppy came to live with us the next day because what the hell was I thinking giving my girlfriend a puppy? My brother and I named it Hooter because we were teenagers and we thought it was funny to name a dog after, well, let’s just say it wasn’t owls.

The dog was an unholy terror. It growled at everyone and only liked my brother. Shortly after it bit my dad for the fifth or sixth time, it went to live on a farm in New Hampshire. My little brother, again, was devastated.

In college, my roommate and I rescued a stray cat from the gutter. We named it Corona because we were in college and thought it was funny to name a cat after beer. It went to live with his family because we had no business owning an animal or any other living thing.

While at college, my family brought home Butkus, a pug my little brother named after the Bears legendary linebacker. Butkus’ left eye fell out when he was a year old. He smelled bad. So bad. All the time. He was my brother’s best friend and I’m not even slightly kidding.

Butkus died the night before my wedding. During my brother’s best man speech he held a teary moment of silence for Butkus, which sparked a large amount of confusion among the guests.

Why am I sharing this? Because we’re getting a family dog. I’ve resisted as long as I can.

Future Man began asking for a dog when he was three. “You can have one when you’re 10,” we told him. Why 10? It seemed like a lifetime away and he’d grow out of it or forget about it. We were wrong and he turns 10 this fall.

The Blonde Bomber loves animals. She walks around with a battery powered stuffed dog that we gave her last year. We figured it would satisfy any yearnings and we could move on without adding another animal to our existing pack of animals. We were wrong.

So we’re getting a dog. Yes, I know what that means. It means I’m getting a dog. It means my kids will never walk it and they’ll certainly never pick up any poop. Their genuine promises to take care of the dog will ring as empty as the millions of genuine promises that preceded theirs.

It’ll dig up my backyard and pee in the house. It’ll chew on the furniture and bark at the Silver Golfer—our 60-year-old neighbor across the street who does not like barking dogs.

The Mother of Dragons will tell me that the dog has ruined her life. It ate her favorite shoes. It nosed through the trash and dropped its body weight in loose stool all over the rug she just purchased from…wherever people buy rugs. The Rug Store?

As I write this I’m five days away from picking up our new labradoodle puppy. I tried for six months to find a non-shedding dog at various animal shelters but never had any luck. No, we don’t have allergy issues. The Mother of Dragons has dog hair issues.

A few weeks ago we were sitting around discussing names and the kids came back in mutual agreement that the dog – boy or girl – should be called Lightning. I liked it. The Mother of Dragons. Future Man. The Blonde Bomber. And Lightning. That’s a solid crew.

It should be noted that this is the first thing the two of our kids have ever agreed upon.

It’s all downhill from here.


Jon Show lives in Robbins Park with his wife, who he calls the “Mother of Dragons.” His 9-year-old son is “Future Man,” and 5-year-old daughter is “The Blonde Bomber.”