A dog can provide a tremendous distraction, all furry affection and simple responsibility. We did the research and settled on a bulldog, the breed I had grown up with. In the back of the dog magazine we found an available litter out on Long Island. A phone call got us a time to visit the brood. Kiffi, Jocelyn, and I decided on a demure, tan and white bitch we named Mercy Jelly, the given name of one of Kif’s obscure New England ancestors. Mercy was sweet and powerfully ridiculous. Her economical body language and open expression underscored her tender disposition. Her drooly, farty, inert years lay in the future.
When she was but a young dog and volatile, Mercy attacked a honeydew melon that had escaped from a grocery bag and rolled across the kitchen floor. She growled and barked as it retreated, then lunged, gnawing on it with the side of her giant mouth. With guttural, slobbery determination, Mercy pushed the sphere along the wall in an attempt to gain purchase. Perhaps her strategy was to trap the evil orb in a corner, but it would just roll away. The three of us collapsed at the table, weeping with joy. We had to wait for Mercy to expend her fury, for she would brook no interference. The honeydew prevailed, but at what cost?