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Not just any old pedigreed dog will do

We're thinking about getting a puppy.

Yeeesh.

I think I go through this every year, it's a spring thing. All those darling, cuddly, cute, fuzzy wonderful animals to substitute for the fact that my boys are now too big to be considered cuddly and even Buzz is only fuzzy when cat hairs or something equally disgusting

sticks to the lollipop smear on his cheek.

Usually, my husband does the brake applying on pet acquisition. I'm afraid if he dies before I do, I'm destined to become one of those slightly eccentric old ladies who live alone - with 15 cats and 47 dogs. I look into their eyes and have the same reaction I do when confronted with chocolate. No will power whatsoever.

This year, however, he's budging. We lost our Lab last summer to old age and we had to leave our Beagle mix on my father-in-law's farm in Tennessee where she would have ample room to run. I don't know who is happier about the fact that she's there and I'm.

Me. No doubt about it. Not all dog lovers love all dogs, and sometimes, even with the canine set, you get a personality clash. Rachel, the beagle mix, and I clashed, big time. But I have to admit, it was never as bad as the clashes my husband had with our black and tan mini dachshund, Beau. Beau always won. No matter what terry would do, he couldn't top Beau's favorite insult - a stinky pile of you-know-what left on Terry's pillow every night.

Beau wasn't with us long.

Personally, I'm for a pound puppy. Although I recently had the joy of meeting some Papillons, with whom

fell head over heels, totally in love with, I have a hard time justifying paying

for a dog when there are so many out there who need homes. Of course, to be perfectly honest, I have a hard time paying more than $30 for a dog, Okay?

I my life I've had some great dogs, but the best ones were mutts. Smarter, funnier, healthier. The only full-bred dogs I had growing up were the Bonnies, a series of gentle, but less than bright black cocker spaniels who were always named after their successors. By the time I was in high school, Bonnie IV went on to the great kennel in the sky and my mom said "enough is enough."

We named the next one Clyde.

Topsy was our best dog. I was incredibly proud of her. Not every 2-year-old girl can claim to have the ugliest dog in Tennessee. Once they saw her, no one ever argued my point. She was part collie, part hound, part terrier, and we never figured out the rest, but I suspect it was monkey, since she could climb fences like one. She had a collie ruff, but was speckled up like a blue tick hound and had a short curly, pug like tail. My dad called her "leftovers." The tail itself had been broken twice (before I rescued her from the side of the highway) and when she wagged it did this strange break-dance kind of wave.

But ugly or not, she was a lion-hearted animal, absolutely loving and loyal.

When we break down and go puppy hunting at the Andalusia Animal Shelter soon, I won't be looking for pedigree or papers, or even good looks.

I'll be looking for a lion-hearted dog.