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Caption: Theo and the boys

Photo by Geoff Tischmann

By Kim Berns

In Season 1 we had a 17-year-old dying dog, three relentless boys, a caveat-laden, dog-loving ‘this will be your dog’ words of wisdom husband. There are certain responsibilities that come with being the little woman: doing all the stuff nobody else wants to do.

When we got Theo from the venerable Unleashed organization in Manhattan, they did a background check so thorough that I’m sure their methods would benefit the current administration.

Now the double-edged sword in knowing you will be the caretaker of yet another living thing almost magically causes you to act unilaterally! The point is we had been told that Theo was a little shy, a bit skittish, “maybe not right for a family”.

Really? “But he’s so handsome!” Clearly I hadn’t learned anything from human rogues of my youth.

‘Twice bitten, once shy’ should have been my mantra, but did I mention how good- looking he was?

Theo could leap fences, bring home rabbits, squirrels, and, in one case, take down a baby deer. He can dig tunnels El Chapo can now only dream of. Never had any of the rogues from the past been this talented. Our collective reaction was boys on bikes in hot pursuit, darting through yards and into busy streets. Forget the danger component of this. It has been many years since I had any business running out of my house in just anything. I was once asked by this paper what my friends and neighbors thought of doing comedy, the answer then and now is God forbid we know what our neighbors think! Survival depends on anxiety-ridden optimism.

But get to know the neighbors we did, ‘the mean neighbor lady’ who howled at the boys for Theo being in her yard and the kindly Rye policewoman teaching us how to stop and bend down so Theo might think game over and come back. We installed an invisible fence to go in front of our actual fence.

We needed training. Trainer Dan couldn’t emphasize enough ‘that at no time should the boys put the collar on to see how it feels’, to be electrocuted? Paranoia? The comment was directed at me. Having lost considerable dignity and control going back to the birth of my first son, I tried not to be offended by a guy who believed dogs are people with fur. But Theo was offended running in mad leaps around Trainer Dan who resorted to a lasso and ended up face down in the dirt. Clever Theo.

At this point I knew Theo was a man in a fur suit, he was Peter Quinn’s Homeland and I was Carrie! Maybe I wasn’t technically bi-polar but hard to tell. Lord knows my hair never looked that good.

But this dog we loved madly was qualified for Special Forces! A rogue operative.

Theo insisted on patrolling the yard, racing back and forth with each potential terrorist, the UPS man undercover, the woman with the cane; walking so slowly he did 14 laps to her one passing of the house, surely her pace was a ruse. Bribery to come in stopped working. We couldn’t get him to come in!

Like show business, the treat is only good as the next big treat.

The boys with convenient hearing would scatter like rats while my weary, contemplative Saul Berenson of a husband would disappear each day into the bowels of what may have been the Middle East but was in fact middle Manhattan, leaving me to stand screeching to no one, ‘WHO LET THE DOG OUT?!’

And then we were under siege by a neighbor who insisted on calling the police when Theo barked.

No need for a diploma from Surveillance Ops to guess who it was.

When forced to hold court inside, our Beauty King sat on the sixth stair of our entry hall stairs so he could see out the glass to any potential intruders.

By the sixth or seventh visit from the Rye police who were always friendly and sympathetic but Required to Respond, we entered Theo in another round of training, this time with the affable Justin at PetSmart.

A Service Dog trainer we found via a neighbor sent us his card in the mail. Did I mention she lives around the corner, but not in the enemy camp?

Theo passed with flying colors not only because they simply give you a certificate after six weeks, but because we knew he would do his best Bruno Mars ‘Grenade’ for us.

The police check-ins kept coming until — after 22 visits! — we were given a court summons. You’d think Peter Quinn had been shooting all the bad guys, not sitting in his front yard. Blowing up in Berlin, not chasing the boys, not, not, not…just barking. “WHO LET THE DOG OUT!?”

Tail spin! Save Theo! The mutual unconditional love needed conditions!

Dog friends rallied and recommended, yes, Police Dog Trainer Gary! Did Theo need to go to the Academy? Our last dog Augie wouldn’t have made it to the third grade. How we had underestimated the simplicity of ‘not-so-bright’…

Carrie would never let them lock him up! But was Theo unfit for civilian life? Did he need to be sent to a Safe House?

Watch for Season 3! Court dates! Military intervention! A new home for Carrie?

Till then, we hope to see you at the luncheon to support Pet Rescue and save more lives, at Apawamis Club May 3.

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