Transcendental Dad: Our family expands into the New Year

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Little Bean and Pip: Let the 2023 adventures ensue!

Transcendental DadWhen I was about nine or ten, not too much older than my daughter, my father brought home a traumatized beagle named Patches. 

The dog was a couple years old when he came home and the story goes that my father got him from a co-worker who was a hunter. During an outing, Patches was accidentally shot and now had deep anxiety when it came to loud noises. The latter turned out to be true – every Fourth of July, the dog would panic and pee and need all manner of care. I believe some form of pharmaceutical was used by my mother to keep him calm.

At any rate, I mention this because we begin the new year with a brand-new addition to our family, Pip, a barely three-pound, white cotton ball of energy, watery eyes and poop. And I bet you thought this was going to be about resolutions!

How do I put this diplomatically… I am not, traditionally, what one would call a dog person. Even back in the day with Patches, we had our moments, but mainly that dog was my dad’s. I am, however, a wife and daughter person, so my role in all this was to help with logistics, figure out how to keep our cat from going insane and making sure our trip to New Jersey over Christmas was safe and successful.

Oh, did I mention that we drove to New Jersey on Christmas Eve to pick the dog up at the Jon Bon Jovi rest area off the Garden State Expressway? No? Well, that’s a thing that happened. And yes, Bon Jovi got a rest stop named after him in 2021. His guitar is in there and everything, right next to the Burger King and washrooms, but I digress.

The Cliff Notes version of this adventure is that Pip was born in Kentucky, is a runt of a breeder litter and we traveled through a Bomb Cyclone to a rest stop in New Jersey to adopt him and bring him home. It is not something I’d normally, well, do.

But the girls in the house have been aching for a puppy, and Pip was hypo-allergenic, doesn’t shed, friendly around cats and likes kids. He checked all the boxes. So off we went.

As expected, having a tiny baby dog in the house is a lot like having a real human baby in the house, at least in terms of training, neediness and how basically your whole life is turned upside down for a while. Though to be fair, there’s no end game to owning a dog. My eldest daughter, Janelle, for example made me homemade candy for Christmas. It seems unlikely that Pip, no matter how often I take him for a walk, will make me candy at any point.

Still, we endure. Rather, I endure. My wife and Little Bean are deliriously happy with tiny Pip and basically walk around everywhere with him tucked into the crook of their elbows. If given the chance, he falls asleep on my lap as well, but I can see in his eyes that he prefers their laps and who can blame him?

Back when I had Patches, I also had a cat names Groucho, named such because of his black cat mustache on his white fur face. Groucho was mine. Similarly, we have a gray cat named Lavendar.

Both cats were less than enthused about their canine housemates. But like myself, they endured. There are far more important things to feel a martyr for than putting up with a dog loved by people who you love, so there’s no need to be dramatic about all of this.

The other night, after the ladies and Pip had gone to sleep, I found myself in the basement sipping tea and reading when Lavendar, out of nowhere, jumped up onto my lap, stretched out and let out a big sigh. She is not and never has been a lap cat, but I got it, I understood.

I put down my book and gave her a good scratching behind the ears. 

“I know, girl, I know,” I said. “But don’t worry, you’re still the queen in this house.”

Satisfied, she gave my finger a quick bite and strutted off. Better me than the dog, I suppose. We have a fish as well, by the way, Shadow Fin. I wonder what he thinks of all this?


About this Author

Dan Szczesny

Dan Szczesny is a longtime journalist and author who lives with his wife and energetic daughter in Manchester. Dan writes a daily journal called Day By Day where you can subscribe for FREE to get essays, articles and updated. Learn more about Dan’s adventures and Day By Day at