Me: Phoenix? C’mere, I’ve got something exciting to tell you.
Phoenix: Is it suppertime?
Me: No, it’s not suppertime.
Phoenix: Wanna play ball? Can I have a cat in the house? Is that steak in the fridge for me? When’s Papa coming back? Can we go for a walk?
Me: No. Not a chance. How did you know there was steak in the fridge? I don’t know. Yes, later.
Phoenix: Oh. Then hurry up. I’m busy. Things to do.
Me: We’re getting a puppy.
Phoenix: A what?
Me: A puppy. A baby dog.
Phoenix (doubtful): Why would you get one of those?
Me: Because I miss having 2 dogs. And so you can have a friend. I know you miss Jamie.
Phoenix: Yeah. Miss him.
Phoenix: Can I have a cat in the house instead?
Me: Um. No.
Me: Because I don't want to spend the rest of the year making homeowner's insurance claims.
Phoenix: This puppy thing - will it eat my food?
Phoenix: Will it sleep in my bed?
Phoenix: Will it sleep in your bed?
Me: Not at first.
Phoenix: Will it get my toys?
Me: It might. Do you think you could share some of your toys?
Phoenix: Do I have to?
Me: Yes. Some of them.
Silence. Phoenix contemplates toy sharing.
Phoenix: What will it look like?
Me: It will be a lot smaller than you. Probably tri-colored. And have a little tail nubbin. And tippy-over ears. And be very fuzzy.
Phoenix: Fuzzy? Like me?
Me: You’re not fuzzy. You’re sleekit.*
Phoenix: Papa calls me Fuzzball.
Me: Papa calls you a lot of things. You are sleekit. The puppy will be a fuzzball.
Phoenix: Will be a girl fuzzball or a boy fuzzball?
Me: I don’t know.
Phoenix: You can’t tell the difference?
Me: Yes, I can tell the difference. Smart ass. But I don’t know which one will come live with us yet.
Phoenix: Get a smart one. Don’t get a dumb one.
Me: Well, that’s the plan.
Phoenix: What will you do with it?
Me: Teach it things. You can help me.
Phoenix (gleam in eye): Really?
Me: Oh dear Lord, what am I saying? Do NOT teach it how open cupboard doors or un-pot plants or steal honey bottles off the table or that weird thing you do when you put your back legs on the edge of bed and your front legs on the window sill and bark at things out the window.
Phoenix: Every dog should know how to do that stuff. Seriously.
Me: Seriously not. Just remember that it will be very little and it won’t know anything and you’ll need to be very patient with it.
Phoenix: Will it pee in the house?
Me: Probably once or twice.
Phoenix: I never peed in the house.
Me: Um. Yes, you did.
Phoenix: I don’t remember that.
Me: I bet there’s a lot of things you don’t remember doing.
Phoenix: Papa says he likes how quiet it is with just one dog around.
Me: Papa is confused.
Phoenix: Will you take it to dog shows?
Phoenix: Will you take it instead of me?
Me: No. I will take you both.
Phoenix: Bet it won’t be as smart as me.
Me: Sweetheart, I am sure it will be nothing like you.
Phoenix (smugly): I’m one of a kind.
Phoenix: When will you get it?
Me: Later this summer, when it gets really hot.
Phoenix (thinking): Tomorrow? It will be really hot tomorrow.
Me: Not that soon. It has to live with its brothers and sisters for awhile longer.
Phoenix: You’re only getting one, right?
Phoenix: Is it a herding dog?
Phoenix: Not one of those birdy dogs or varmint dogs or hound dogs or fluffy dogs?
Me: Umm . . . sometimes you’re one of those varmint dogs. You get varmints.
Phoenix: That’s different. It needs to be a herding dog. They’re smart.
Me: It’s a herding dog.
Phoenix: Only one smaller-than-me, tri-colored, nubbin-tailed, tippy-over-eared boy or girl herding-dog smart fuzzball?
Phoenix: I suppose it’s okay. You should get it. Might be fun.
(* Sleekit is a Scottish word that means smooth and shiny, or sneaky. Phoenix is, by all accounts, very sleekit.)