Tom Purcell: Finding the puppy solution

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 1, 2021

Coffee. I need coffee. And sleep. And food.

I picked up my Lab puppy, Thurber, four days ago. I have spent every waking moment since happily tending to the little guy’s considerable needs.

Before I got him, I was cocksure I’d mastered the proper training techniques to bend my little guy’s will to mine.

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“No dog of mine is going Number One in my house,” I boasted to anyone who would listen.

“No dog of mine is going to lack discipline,” I protested.

“No dog of mine will sit on my furniture!” I said, arrogantly.

How are things working out?

I have my carpet cleaner on speed dial. Discipline is overrated as it intrudes on fun. And right now my bundle of joy is sitting on my beloved leather recliner, staring at me with black, doughy eyes that make me feel like a pat of butter in a frying skillet.

It’s obvious the training strategy isn’t going well – though he’s teaching me as fast as he can.

His endless cuteness, hilarity and affection are melting my heart and making me laugh out loud all day long.

He never stops reminding me that the world is a place of wonder – that there’s lots to experience if you keep your eyes as wide open as his.

He’s just experienced snow and he can’t dance in enough of it.

He plays with a chunk of frozen dirt with more intensity that he does a store-bought toy.

I’ve fallen hard for my little guy. He’s changed me in ways I didn’t anticipate.

I’m so focused on his health and happiness, I’ve barely thought about my own.

I’ve spent so little time on the internet and social media, I barely know what’s going on in the world.

Being offline has actually improved my life. I’ve wasted no time engaging in fruitless debates with strangers about politics.

And because I’ve stopped watching cable news, I’ve been spared the divisive spin and opinions that never stop coming out of Washington, D.C.

For the sake of America, I wish everyone would invite a puppy into his or her family. Reason magazine can help explain why.

According to Reason, politics is seeping into every aspect of our daily life and ruining everything.

“Americans are choosing jobs, brands and friends for partisan reasons,” the libertarian magazine reports.

This is because Americans are becoming way too serious – way too lost in the narrowness of their limited, subjective, partisan points of view.

“Agree with my opinion on all cultural and political matters, or I won’t be your friend,” think many.

“I’ll report you to the HR department and get you in trouble for offending my sensitivity,” think others.

“I’ll boycott your product or service unless you think like I do!” more people are thinking.

That’s because, tragically, we live an era of opinion, not reason and fact.

To everyone’s detriment, especially our own, we impose our will and our political values on others and shun those who refuse to submit.

We have it backwards.

An open heart and open eyes are what we need.

Laughter and affection, not stridency and anger, are what will bring us together and help us realize we have more in common than we think.

Just become the parent of an eight-week-old puppy – just be inspired by his wonderful view of the world – and we’ll all be better off.

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Email Tom at