Readers may recall the world’s most perfect pup (my column, my rules) came into my life a couple years ago. We were ready, time and illness having taken our wonderful dogs and cats from us, but Lola was frankly not who we had set out to find. We imagined an older dog, someone larger than a Chihuahua, but that changed when PHS/SPCA rescued the mom Chihuahua and her six newborns from a nest she created underneath utility poles at a PG&E yard. Life has a habit of handing you the unexpected, and sometimes life is pretty smart about those decisions. This time for sure.

Carolyn and I have lived with many remarkable animals who came to us with remarkably challenging problems. Fear-biter dogs from abusive homes, totally unsocialized (some would call them feral) cats taken from traps and dumpsters, a fighting cock rescued from a ring during a raid (Elvis, but that’s a whole other story). We have the know-how and patience to bring an animal through very real trauma, and that’s allowed us to live with many terrific but otherwise hard-to-place pets. But when it came to Lola it was clear that the goal was to convince her where it was ok to pee and poop, and then to simply enjoy all 9 pounds of her quirky personality. Maybe we could have trained her to sniff out firecracker- size bombs or assist in the search and rescue of hamsters trapped under collapsed buildings, but we chose instead to set limited expectations. Which is not to say she does not expect a good deal more from us.

Little dog, little toys, and her squeaky fuchsia ball is the favorite. Problem is small balls like to roll under heavy furniture. She could squeeze in most spots but prefers not. Instead, Lola’s taught us that special whine which denotes her people’s obligation to turn into retrievers. A certain turn of her neck with paws up on the box-spring signals it’s time to lift her onto our bed. Woo-wooing while standing on hind legs means it’s time to wrestle. I think she’ll agree that we’ve gotten very good at obeying her commands. It’s not entirely one-sided, she does adhere to the poop-and-pee policy. But, as the song goes, whatever Lola wants….