OK so you knew it wasn’t going to take very long for me to start writing about my new puppy. It's been a week now and things are going about as well as can be expected—considering that he’s only five months old.

Sure, he chews on the heels of my shoes (increasingly surreptitiously),

he wakes me up for a three AM pee-pee break every night,

he still occasionally poops on the floor,

his one bout of diarrhea set his training back a tad and left me with a messy crate pad,

his sister/adoptive mother doesn’t want to play or sleep with him yet,

and he has a nasty (if cute) habit of sucking on my forearm whenever nestled in my arms.

But he’s a basically good puppy. That is, I thought so until last night’s wild ride through the hardwood hammock in my back yard.

Right around nightfall I was peaceably reading a new book on the outdoor patio, my two dogs lazily lying by my side—the picture of domestic bliss…when the phone rings indoors. It’s a telemarketer, of course, in spite of my membership to the “do not call” list. After telling him off, I hurry outside to see both sleeping dogs gone.

Now, the one acre yard is hermetically sealed with chain-link fencing but most of that acre is a huge bramble of trees, vines and other wide-ranging creepers. The worst part? We’re currently suffering a major overgrowth of something called “cow itch,” which in Spanish is more aptly named, “pica pica” (translated as “itch itch” or “scratch scratch”).

Either way, it’s safe to say this nasty plant is well regarded across a variety of cultures for its more obnoxious qualities. Furthermore, my experience demonstrates convincingly that it should be evaluated as a promising new ingredient in bioterrorism weaponry. (Anthrax has nothing on this stuff.)

And it appears the dogs have just run into the thick of it. While the sky is rapidly darkening. And I have nothing on but a fluffy bathrobe over boxers.

So I run inside and change into jeans, high socks, sneaks and a turtleneck and rush headlong into the thick brush. It’s at this point I realize that I should have brought a hat, face shield, gloves and flashlight. The itch is already on the move. And I’m nowhere near finding the dogs in this gloom.

It’s only an acre. They can’t get out. They’re perfectly all right. They’re just having fun. I repeat these affirmations as I feel myself getting increasingly panicky at the thought of my eight-pound puppy lost all night in this evil forest.

Next thing I know there’s a rustling just beyond a log in my path and my Sophie Sue comes bounding before me. She can’t fool me with those innocent eyes. I know she’s taken her unappreciated sibling into the forest depths just to lose him forever. As if she knows what I’m thinking she scampers along homewards, thoroughly unperturbed by my maddening itch and rising hysteria.

A full fifteen minutes later and there he is, sitting under one of Katrina’s victimized branches—calmly resting and taking in the blackening scenery. In my relief, I hug him tightly—and only briefly entertain strangling the wayward creature. But first I have to find a way out of this hyper-foliaged hinterland.

It’s just about pitch black now. And the itch has worked its way through my jeans. Spider webs and loose vines are invisible now as I trample everything in my path. I cover the baby’s head lest I poke an eye out with an unseen branch in this mad dash to civilization.

I make it back but I don’t stop at the patio, doorway or crate. I throw back the shower curtain and turn the knobs to full blast, heedless of temperature, and let the water soak through the clothes I haven’t had a chance to peel off yet.

Finally the itch is subsiding. The phone rings. Impatiently, I step out of the shower and wrap a towel around my now-excoriated winter skin…only to find a small present on the bathroom rug just a few millimeters from my toes.

Tomorrow at first light I’ll have to run out and buy a play-pen. Sigh…isn’t it great to have a new puppy?