Meet Chester, the newest member of the Mighty Gauls.
That makes four kids, two dogs and ten to twelve tropical fish for those of you scoring at home.
I'm a dog lover, ever happy with my furry friends.
And I have gained converts.
If Tania, my wife, had visited a fortune teller or whipped out a Ouija board as a hip, single actress back in 2003 I'm confident she would have balked if either foresaw a house full of mouths.
I picture Tania processing the vision, then sprinting several city blocks in search of a second opinion.
Yet here we are.
Marrying me meant inheriting my two children and my Old English sheepdog, Falstaff, who Tania compared to a shrub with ears.
A package deal.
Seven years later we have two more kids and, as of this week, another hound.
Chester is an 18 month-old rescue dog, a terrier-beagle mix. A little guy, built like a handbag.
A handbag to play with the shrub.
We don't know much about Chester other than what is. Adopting a pet isn't a clean slate as much as wiping a muddy windshield with a dry paper towel. The first week consisted of:
A few four-legged skirmishes, unnerving yet necessary to determine the alpha dog. Chester the handbag has the early lead.
Kids and dogs stampeding down the stairs like bulls in Pamploma.
Whipping leashes around on walks like a lion tamer.
The dogs still get a bit chippy but it seems they have reached détente, a truce without the flags, pens and heads of state.
Dogs are great for teaching kids about compassion, empathy, patience and responsibility; an opportunity to care for a living being. When I look into the eyes of kids and dogs I see God looking back.
Life is full of second acts, even for dogs like Chester. I'm grateful we can share the stage.