How does a five-pound bundle of apricot-colored fur turn two very independent adults into mush? Welcome “Q,” the miniature poodle that entered our world a month ago, courtesy of our eldest son Andrew. Andrew sent a picture of himself and the dog, asking if we wanted to share in his ownership. I emphatically declined, remembering the responsibility of having a dog nearly 20 years ago. A week later we visited the dog and fell hard, especially after a few licks to the face.

We allowed for a 24 hour cooling off period, then purchased the three-month old puppy along with all the necessities associated with pet ownership, costing almost as much as the pup. A month into the shared arrangement, Q has dominated our thoughts, schedules, conversation and attention. Because Andrew teaches and coaches, we have become a doggie daycare, bringing Q to the office to romp, chew and charm most everyone he encounters. The UPS driver even brings him bacon treats when he makes a delivery. I had forgotten how amazing it is to have a small creature as part of the family mix. Animals can bring a lot of joy and comfort, between the training, teething and tiny temper tantrums.

Our son, Christopher, adopted a rescue Chihuahua that lives with him in an apartment in San Francisco. Louie has adapted well to city life and doesn't seem to mind the traffic, crowds and the interesting paraphernalia that he finds on the sidewalks during his walks. Thank heaven for Facebook, where I can watch and comment on the antics of Christopher and his tiny dog, to which he is so devoted.
Growing up, having a dog around didn't seem to be that big a deal for me. My mom was always bringing home a pet she rescued for the five of us to befriend. One of those "finds" was a big dog, Tanney, who would follow us on our bikes to remote areas of the neighborhood on summer adventures. When he bit a horse (really, not his fault), he was replaced by a small poodle we called Chou Chou, who hid under my Mother's bed in fear of us.

Today, being a dog owner means business. Big business! By the look of Benicia's downtown, it seems nearly every other person owns a dog, and likes to parade their pet up and down First Street. The waterfront green has become the hub of pet activity, with dogs and their owners utilizing the wide-open space on a daily basis. In 2010, Benicia was voted the 4th friendliest dog town in the U.S. by Dog Fancy Magazine. We have attracted several businesses that help owners indulge and service their pets. Since I am now a partial dog owner (we don't use the term grandpupparent!), I have become familiar with the do’s and don'ts of where and what to buy for puppy Q. We have great store options that cater to man/woman's best friend with knowledgeable staff, a friendly environment and really cute toys and accessories.

I have a new love, and who would have thought it would have come at this stage of life? I find myself enthralled with his rambunctious play, and share pictures and videos of him to anyone who will take a look. He sleeps under my chair at the office, looking for protection from the confusion of phones ringing and people coming and going. Q was named after the James Bond character, and The World is Not Enough without him. Mush!

Featherer Pet: A full-line, family-owned pet store that also offers professional dog and cat grooming and a self-serve pet wash.
Pups'n'Purrz: Independently owned and operated, sells high quality, nutritious food including organic and gluten free options for dogs and cats.
Pet Food Express: A full-line pet store for all types of pets.
Koda & Co.: Dog and cat fashions, soon to open at the Treasury Commons