Richard Connor: I thought puppies were just for kids but then I met Nelli

Snow dogs: Nelli and Noodle in Colorado.

Nelli has a broken tail.

So far she has not noticed it but it’s probably only a matter of weeks or even days before some bully, mongrel mutt in the dog park tells her.

Nelli will be running around, playing and looking perfect; the mutt will be jealous of her high breeding and snootiness and just tell her.

“Oh, you think you’re such hot stuff,” he’ll say. “Well you have a crooked tail.”

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It will hit her like a ton of bricks, probably the way it shocks someone to find out at 50 that they were adopted.

Nelli is a golden retriever and was born with a crooked tail. We were offered a nice price discount on her.

“Sure,” I said quickly. “Tail straight or crooked – doesn’t matter to us.”

Insensitively, I never looked ahead to the day I might have to soothe her feelings and explain the crooked tail.

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She may discover it on her own. It is widely held that dogs cannot actually “watch” television even if they are staring at it. Not true. I had a both a springer spaniel and a Jack Russell who watched and clearly saw TV.

Nelli now has joined them in this phenomenon.

She was transfixed by Michael Cohen’s appearance before Congress. She stared and stared in disbelief. Why wouldn’t she?

Nelli looks like Einstein compared to the cast of characters that participated in the Feb. 27 spectacle staged by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform to hear Donald Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer” excoriate the president as a liar and lawbreaker.

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Anyway, when I saw her watching television I figured she might catch a rearview glimpse of her beautiful self in a mirror and realize she has a crooked tail.

Nelli’s TV fixation and the next day’s icy weather that had cars sliding and colliding all over the place got me thinking about her arrival as our Christmas puppy in 2017.

She’s pictured here with Noodle, the miniature dachshund, as they romped in the snow in Colorado.

We bought Noodle first and he was so rambunctious we thought another puppy would occupy his enormous energy and give us some peace and quiet.

The experiment did – and did not – work. Sure enough, Nelli exhausted Noodle with nonstop play. But once Noodle tired and took a nap, Nelli was ready for more play.

At almost 18 months, Nelli’s energy is still on the rise, particularly when the sun goes down and it should be time to relax and maybe even go to sleep. Noodle, meanwhile, has become an almost quiet gentleman.

Truly a retriever, Nelli has had everything in her mouth except an entire couch. Her first reaction upon greeting anyone is to put something in her mouth. The excitement is too great. If there is a toy or a stick on the ground she will pick that up before she goes for either a hand or a forearm. She is playing but you will not be shocked to learn that some people do not cotton to the notion of a body part in a dog’s mouth.

About 15 years ago, I was in the market for a bird dog and spent many days at a kennel owned by a friend. He had a couple of litters of puppies and I would go visit him and study those that had not been sold.

One day he turned to me and said, “Rich, I hate to break this to you but guys our age have no business buying a puppy. We are too old.”

I took his counsel and bought an older dog who turned out to be a gem. And I decided my puppy days were long past.

Then along came my daughter who wanted Noodle, and then came me who wanted a puppy only to give me some respite from Noodle. I ended up being constantly harassed by both dogs.

I grouse sometimes about the work involved with puppies and I look forward to days when I travel and have to board the dogs – particularly Nelli, the perpetual motion machine.

But when I arrive home and she’s not there the place is empty and lonely. There’s a hole in the air. It’s a lot like waiting anxiously for the children to grow up and go to college. Then the empty nest hits you and it’s not a nice feeling.

The point is, we are never too old for anything. George H.W. Bush parachuted at 90 and was driving his ocean boat racer at breakneck speeds well past 80.

We are never too old for puppies or changes in our lives or new businesses or new adventures – unless, of course, we think we are. That’s the key. There are some things you just need to do and not worry about how many pages you’ve torn off the calendar.

Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at