My dog is almost settled in now.

I bought Leo last February when he was about a month old. I remember the first time I saw him. He was just a tiny ball of cotton with an even tinier ball of cotton where his tail used to be. I chose him because he was the only one in the litter with a black mask over one eye.

I lived in Arkansas at the time; since then, of course, I have moved to Ada, which means Leo had to move, too. It was with some trepidation that I prepared to make the trek from Arkadelphia to Ada (about a five-hour drive, one way, depending which route you take). How would a puppy with the attention span of one of his own fleas handle the long trip?

I was relieved that he  actually handled the trip  quite well. I moved him separately — not so much furniture, more room in my truck — and he slept in my lap the entire way.

Of course, we made the journey in the middle of the night — cooler, less traffic — and he was probably sleepy, anyway. I drove through the McDonald’s in Atoka for coffee, and the woman at the window asked if she could give Leo a chicken nugget. I said sure. Now he’ll expect free stuff wherever we go.

I chose the house I live in specifically for its fenced back yard. Leo, a Jack Russell terrier, has a tendency to take pieces of furniture and break them down into smaller pieces, devouring as many as possible. So my plan was to find a place where he could harmlessly indulge his more destructive puppy impulses. While this has worked out nicely, a new problem has presented itself.

Dogs, apparently, enjoy digging in the dirt, and Leo is no different. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come home to find him black with filth, granished with brambles, his coat, nails and snout covered with whatever soil he’s been rooting in. No matter how badly I scold him, he always seems to take great pride in his accomplishment.

Dirty dogs inevitably get baths, and it is this point that Leo has the hardest time understanding. He endures bathtime  pretty well, but makes it clear he’d rather not have to.

Sometimes Leo will just stand outside and bark. My neighbor has a dog — a big black something or other — and some nights they will hold bark-off’s while I am trying to watch TV. No big deal, except I’m pretty sure Leo has the loudest voice.

I’ve refused to let him sleep in my bed, mainly because it’s brand-new and he’s usually at least a little dirty. He’s learned to sleep on the floor — or, even better, curl up under my nightstand, so that only his nub of a tail is visible.

In a few weeks it is possible I might stop setting my alarm; Leo has started waking me at 6:00 every morning, asking to go out. He’ll balk if it’s raining, of course, necessitating a trip to the garage when it’s time for me to go to work.

I’m leary of taking him to Wintersmith Park because I’m afraid he’ll go nuts for the geese and ducks out there. I like my walks peaceful; it is doubtful the waterfowl at Wintersmith would tolerate a lot of barking from a shrimp like Leo.

Dan Marsh is editor of The Ada News.

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