It all started when my daughter found out animal shelters allow people to foster a pet-- without having to permanently adopt it.
After she pleaded, and I made her sign a contract that said she would walk it in the morning and late at night and do all the feeding and cleaning up, we began to fill out online forms for fostering.
PAWS Chicago, a no-kill humane shelter on Clybourn Avenue, was the first to respond, and soon we became the proud foster home of Goldie, a female boxer-pit bull mix. She's three months old.
I have my reservations about pit bulls, but little Goldie has a sweet face and disposition.
My daughter, a teen, spends hours playing with Goldie--whom we now call Bailey--and she and my son do their part taking her for walks and feeding her.
Bailey almost never barks or whines, and the slightest bit of attention--like a pat on the head--puts her into excited spins of tail-wagging.
The only problem is that Bailey is not house-broken. She's bright, and she quickly has figured out that she's supposed to do her business outside. But being such a little puppette, she can't always control these things.
So on the day before Christmas Eve, visitors narrowly missed stepping in a puppy pile that was just outside the front door, unbeknownst to me.
And on the night before Christmas Eve, Bailey had some kind of intestinal thing happen, so that her puppy piles became puppy pools. On our floor. And outside on the sidewalk, and the walkway, and the driveway.
The kids deduced that they had been giving her too many Milkbones as rewards for pooping outside, and that the treats, umm, backfired.
It was only a matter of hours before 16 guests were scheduled to walk into the house for Christmas Eve dinner. What if Bailey produced a major stinkbomb just as we were trying to tempt our relatives' appetites with homemade pasta and grilled chicken with romesco sauce and salmon with gremolata and baked eggplant parmesan and seafood salad?
Clearly, that would not be a hit with the two very proper grandmas, or the grandpa who, although sociable with two-legged creatures, is skeptical of the four-legged kind.
So we made an emergency call to Aunt Pat, who breeds and raises collies and shows them in dog shows.
Cooked ground beef mixed with rice, she advised. And a bit of canned pumpkin--the plain kind, without sugar and cinnamon.
"And I'll bring you some medicine tonight that will stop it right up," she said.
She did, and it worked. All the guests patted Bailey and said what a sweet dog she was, and the evening went by without any impolite smells or deposits from the little dog.
Christmas Eve was saved.
Santa came during the night, and put a big rawhide bone under the tree for Bailey.
We let her have the run of the house for a few minutes while we opened gifts, and we later found she had left a few gifts of her own on the floor.
Sigh. Back to this house-breaking business.