When I was in 7th grade I presented a dot-matrix-printed dossier to my parents. It was like 15 pages long and the title page said something along the lines of: “Why We Should Get a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier.” It included detailed information that I found on the then-proto-Internet about breeders and how Wheatens were ideal for people like me with socially-crippling dog allergies. It also included a written contract in which I solemnly swore to feed and walk my potential new dog every day, which: LOL.
We got Merlin that summer. Well, actually, I’ll be honest: first we got a different Merlin, a puppy who I remember was named Shaquille by the breeder. (I think the real Shaq had just signed with LA.) We took Shaquille home, named him Merlin, a name I had way-too-excitedly come up with well in advance – it may have even appeared in the presentation – and commenced our new life. Two days later the puppy dropped dead in the kitchen right in front of my mom with what we later learned was some kind of heart defect. It was basically the worst thing that could happen and I don’t even know why I just brought it up.
The breeder kindly gave us a new puppy from the litter for free, and we were all so traumatized that we just decided to name that one Merlin too. Which is probably wrong, in some way, but it seemed right at the time and still does. Anyway, I guess everything averages out in the end, because this Merlin, unlike his poor brother, lived to the incredibly old age of fifteen and a half. He was put to sleep by the vet today and I’ll miss him forever, mostly because of how much he loved to ride shotgun.