A Folly Jolly Christmas

In Praise of Folly, Erasmus wrote, “No society, no union in life could be either pleasant or lasting without me.” Me of course refers to Folly herself.

We took him at his word.

Oh yeah.  We got our kids a puppy for Christmas.

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She’s completely adorable, and almost everyone loves her.

Especially Sienna, who takes her for walks every fifteen minutes.

And Liam, whose room she sleeps in

Lincoln is on the fence about her, mostly because she keeps stealing his beloved broom

And Charlotte felt that a picture in her Santa hat was way more important than the puppy

Me, I’ve spent the last few days cleaning up dog poop and pee while furiously googling “how to house-train a puppy” Weirdly, I’m not even a little bit upset about this*, because

Seriously, look at that face!

We named her Folly after many days of deliberation. I’m not sure that it particularly suits her, but we weren’t happy with the only name we came up with that did suit her – Penny. It’s cute and all, and she looks like a Penny alright, but somehow it didn’t seem like a real name that would carry her through into adulthood. It was too cutesy.

Although she is the cutesiest puppy in the whole wide world

The Ogre and I both love the noun-as-dog-name thing, though. His best friend once had a dog named Envy, his brother had a dog named Fluke, and their family dog growing up was called Boon. So we really wanted that kind of name, instead of a people name. But we just couldn’t come up with anything besides Folly. It wasn’t perfect because neither of us felt that adopting her was folly, and I really didn’t want it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. But then the wise, wonderful Sally Thomas put this on my facebook wall, and it sealed puppy name fate forever:

Shakespearean comedy, as a professor of mine in college used to say, exhorts us to embrace our folly and be humbled, in order to receive whatever grace a given play’s universe has coming. Would that everyone’s folly were so embraceable as she is.

The most embraceable folly ever

I’ve been surprised at the anti-dog enthusiasm over the whole thing, though. To me, a dog was less an option for our family than a necessity. A dog brings something subhuman to family, something totally lacking in reason, something that must be cared for, cleaned up after, trained, and loved, all with that particular patience that animals can bring out in human beings. I think it can be through learning to love something sub-human that we become fully human.

That’s definitely something I want my kids to grow up with. It’s a lesson I haven’t even learned yet. The mess, the smell, the training, the chewing, the barking…all that pales in comparison to what a dog can bring to family, if she’s loved and trained properly.

And anyway, hasn’t everyone seen Old Yeller?  *SOB*

*Okay fine, maybe I got a little annoyed today when I had to mop the laundry room floor 3 4 times. But the upside is that the laundry room floor is super, super clean.

  • Mary Beth Murtha

    Congratulations! We had a Folly for 17 years…best sweetest dog ever! I’m with you by the way growing up with animals is the best…even close to a necessity. We all need to learn to care for something. Animals provide that and humanize us!

  • Sally Thomas

    Oh, I totally agree with you about needing a dog! We waited years and years to get one, and now I think of our life pre-dog in much the way that I think of our life pre-kids. What did we do? How did we live without this?

    Ours came to us as an adult, though I’m not sure he was the 3-year-old they told us he was. If that was true, he would be eight now, and . . . maybe. He is getting a little gray in the face, though he can still act like a manic idiot with the best of them. He came house-trained and with some good socialization — he was literally the only dog we looked at that didn’t shy away from my then-small children. Still, he had needs: he had massive separation anxiety (which trumps house-training, as we discovered) and a whole host of phobias. He’s calmed down a lot, but in many ways he is like a needy child who will never grow up. We laugh at him a lot — dogs really are good at being Fools, in the way of Touchstone — but he is a good presence beyond that, and I think you’ve hit on why.

    And of course I love her name. Not like I was bulldozing you about it or anything. I just think it’s great. And now, since Christmas will be her “birthday” every year, you can sing, “Deck the halls with bow-wow of Folly, Fa la la la la la la la ly!” (or you could just shoot me now before I get any more carried away with this).

  • TracyE

    When we potty trained our dogs, we tied a rattle or some little noise maker to a string and hung it from the doorknob. We showed them how to paw the noise maker when they went to the door. (jingle, jingle) This way we would know they were there and we’d let them out. It worked pretty quickly; dogs are smart! Enjoy your clean floors and happy kiddos!

  • Cam

    Love it! All kids should grow up with dogs. Oh and the name is great. Brings to mind New Belgium Brewery’s slogan: “Follow your folly. Ours is beer.” And yours is a dog.

    • Calah Alexander

      See, I forgot about that! I love it!

  • Caroline Moreschi

    She’s so cute!! I cannot believe how adorable and sweet she looks. Your kids must be thrilled.

  • ama

    I don’t want to sound like the bossy advice giver so please just consider it a hopefully helpful suggestion? Thanks: Encourage Sienna to stop at the pee spot when they first go outside and just before coming back in. If Sienna slows down so Folly can relax, sniff and then wait for the pee urge you’ll get fewer accidents in the house.

    • Calah Alexander

      Done! I love advice becuase I have no idea what I”m doing!!!!

  • George.a.da.Jungle

    I love your floors …are they solid wood? How do you care for them, with, I assume, so many spills and messes? i would love to ditch our ratty carpet for something like your floors.

    • Calah Alexander

      It’s just the one floor in the sitting/dining room, and it’s wood laminate. I’m just pretty careful about it…we clean up spills right away and I mop it with a dry mop and laminate floor cleaner. My kids are forced to eat and drink at the kitchen table, though, except at dinner, so most of the spills happen on the tile. I used to be totally derisive of wood laminate, though, until I lived with these. Much more forgiving than real wood, shiny and pretty, and not nearly as scratchable. If we ever own a home and decide to put new floors in, I’m totally getting wood laminate. Sometimes the fake stuff is the best. (I’m looking at you, Cool Whip…) I hate our carpet in the living room too. Carpet is the worst invention ever, especially if you’ve got allergies and asthma.

      • George.a.da.Jungle


  • Brigitte

    An animal adds a wonderful element to family life. I think they draw everyone together because you all love them together and unconditionally the way they love you. And i think the youngest child especially appreciates and benefits from having a dependent. Our old family dog is sixteen, and it is sad to think of losing her, but my kids are grown and the time is right.

  • JSM in FL

    Hi Calah, I’ve been following your blog for about a month, and I really enjoy your posts, especially the National I Hate Florida Day!

    Just wanted to give you a heads-up that we received when we got our Golden Retriever puppy last summer, from a good friend who’s experienced with dogs. She told me that most people who give up puppies do so when they are 7-8 months, because that is their adolescent stage. That’s smack where our dog is right now, and if I didn’t have a hope that she will grow out of this soon, I’d be tearing my hair out. So just a warning about hanging in there through the doggy “teen” months!