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Who knew little dogs had so many pluses?

A while ago, my wife of many years told me that she thought it was time for us to get another dog. We've had many pets and loved them all. I, however, disagreed with her suggestion and explained to her with irrefutable logic why this was not a good time to get another dog.

We are both retired and travel all over the country. Our children are grown and they and their respective children are spread about in far-away states. We spend a great deal of time away from home; hence, it wasn't a good idea.

Our next decision was what kind of dog to get. Naturally, I argued for the part wolf, German shepherd mix as a guard dog, a home protector and a wrestling partner, plus an extension of my machismo. My wife thought a small dog would be nice. I did get my wish for a mixed breed, but the species were beagle and Bichon Frise.

I relented to working with the little beast to make him a killer of sorts, and begrudgingly have begun to see the advantages of little dogs. One important advantage is that their fecal matter is very small and easily ignored in the yard.

They also don't eat much, so it shouldn't cost much to feed them -- unless of course you get the fancy little tins of gourmet dog food with filet mignon flavoring. Naturally, we buy that kind.

You don't trip over the little guys because they are so terrified that you will step on them they are constantly getting out of your way. Besides when they lie around it's on the furniture, not on the floor.

If you get one of the types that doesn't shed, there is no ubiquitous dog hair clogging the vacuum and covering everything from your clothes to the car seats. Although the downside to the nonshedding advantage is that they must be groomed and cut every other month at forty bucks a whack.

Small dogs don't take up a lot of room on the bed. I knew that I would be sharing space with the dog and was pleasantly surprised to discover that he is very easy to move around with your feet, thereby affording me almost as much space as I had before we got him.

As a liability advantage, if little dogs do go bolting out the door growling and barking at some hapless trespasser, there isn't a lot of damage that they can do. Unless the trespasser happens to be barefoot. Their mouths will barely fit around a tennis ball, so an ankle is out of the question.

It's also nice to know that nobody visiting the house will be petrified with fear at the approach of a serious menace. This does not mean that there won't be a cacophony of barking and growling.

Additionally, along the line of accommodating visitors, it is also pleasant to not impose on the guest with the usual big dog crotch-sniffing routine. This embarrassing predicament is thankfully impossible.

In addition, small dogs will not drink out of the toilet. This disgusting habit is obviated by their physical inability to perform the task, not their good manners or taste.

One final advantage of small dogs is that when they come running toward you at warp speed, should they side-swipe you, your knees won't be torn out of joint as is often the case with large dogs.

In retrospect, I think I made the right decision in opting for a small dog because the final perk is that he fits nicely into our little airplane. Besides, Fang -- at 18 pounds of blue twisted steel -- thinks he's a big dog anyway.

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