"I'll take him!" I told the breeder. I could barely see anything in the dark, grimy basement, but I'd seen enough to know this puppy was the one. Fourteen weeks old, he was a beautiful fawn Boxer, the last of the litter. I was 23, working hard at my first job, and living in Kentucky. I learned an important lesson that day. Never go look at a puppy unless you are ready to buy one.
He was the clumsiest, goofiest, dumbest and most loyal dog on the planet. I named him Boston, after my hometown, and he joined my other dog, Captain, a cocker spaniel. Together, those two dogs were wilder than any three-year-old on a sugar-high. I couldn't leave them alone. One time I returned from a long day at work to find Boston on top of my kitchen table doing the full body wag while captain was chewing on my brand new sneaker. They destroyed the carpet in my first home. They required lots of care, food and vet. I spent more money than I imagined.
Captain had been a mistake, too. I bought him while I was in college. I used to take him with me to campus, leaving him outside the classroom with strict instructions to "stay." When class was over, I'd be lucky to catch a fleeting glimpse of his tail as he made a beeline for the sorority houses. All afternoon, the girls would lavish him with treats and attention. Smart dog: he scored more than I did.
Looking back, I wasn't ready for one dog, never mind two. I made a lot of mistakes in my 20s.
All that came back to me yesterday while I was in our showroom in Plymouth. A customer was looking at furniture for her daughter. At 23, the daughter had launched a fast-track career. In fact, she'd already bought her first condo, the mother explained proudly, and she needed a bedroom set.
There was one problem. Her daughter had fallen in love with some slick, cheaply-made furniture she'd seen in a catalog. The mother walked through our showroom, shaking her head. "I've got to get her in here!" she said. "If only I could just show her what quality looks like, maybe she'd re-consider."
No, I thought. She won't. Smart as she is, the daughter has to make a few mistakes first. She'll buy the catalog set and watch it fall apart over the next few years. When she moves into her next home, she may try to sell it - and she'll realize it depreciated faster than a pink convertible. In fact, it will be close to worthless.
But the lesson won't be. And, just like her mom, we've learned to be patient.