I've been a dog hater.  After all, dogs are so needy. They make a lot of noise (and poop). Badly behaved ones bite, and pee on furniture, and everywhere, simply everywhere, is hair from the endless scratching even when they're dosed with rabidly-expensive flea sh*t.

I'm a former cat person, actually, but allergies killed my allegiance. Beginning with Nalu (pictured below) I slowly came to embrace dogs as a way of life and now they are somewhat in danger of taking over the house. We sometimes get to sit on the couch, for instance, and if the dogs have a sitter, we can take a trip. But only IF.

When I was devising a sidekick for my badass/vulnerable protagonist, Lei Texeira, I didn't have to look beyond the end of my own bed, where napped the Best Dog Ever.

Nalu is a Rottweiler in a ten pound body. Watch out, intruders!

Nalu, a chihua terrier mix, is the model for Lei's loyal and protective Rottweiler, Keiki. (Keiki means “child” and you don't have to look far for Freudian implications) Smart as a whip, ever vigilant, and possessed of an unshakeable Napoleon complex, Nalu is an ageless 12 year old.

But cuddly she's not. Needing something fuzzy and fussy to brush after my daughter left for college, I got this one:

I took about a hundred photos of Liko before I got one that showed even one of his eyes.

Liko, a registered Shih Tzu, is a dim bulb, but devoted. He dotes on me, following me even to the bathroom where he waits on tenterhooks, wondering if I will ever reappear (object permanence being a cognitive task beyond his mental capacity). His favorite spot is curled up beneath my chair while I write.

After a rough break-in period involving a year or so of peeing on the furniture and territorial guarding of my feet against the invasion of my husband, he's become our best-behaved dog. Hardly even barks. Only drawback is the expensive and inevitable grooming, which is why I originally bought him and which quickly lost its charm.

Then came true folly–The Little Guy, a.k.a. Pono.

His cuteness ensures his survival. That's all he's got going for him. Oh, and he's sweet, cuddly and loves people.

Pono is a truly useless dog. Can't walk properly, expensive, in ill health from neglect (we adopted him from the Humane Society) and yet… you should have seen us flipping out when he got out of the back yard and got lost for an evening. Me in tears, Mike driving frantically around with posters, whistling and calling, posting alerts to Facebook.

Turns out he'd just gimped into the next door neighbors' yard where the kids scooped him up for hours of washing, brushing and dressing in baby clothes. When the dad took him outside to pee at 10 p.m, he dragged his hindquarters up the street and straight to our front door.

Guess he was over the kid thing, too.

He can't climb the back steps so I carry him in the laundry basket.

Dogs, you either love 'em or hate 'em.  What's your favorite pet?

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