The Puppy Plan

Biting off more than you can chew
By Aaron Mabry | Dec 06, 2012

As many of you know, my wife Kristin has a deep love for anything with a tail and fur. As it turns out, I’m constantly, not to mention randomly, finding myself in pet stores where all I can do is sit back and watch her play with the rabbits and fawn over the newest kittens behind the glass.
Suffice to say, if it were up to her, I’d be feeding about 30 mouths a day.
However, despite her best efforts, I’ve managed to keep it down to one dog, three chickens and four live plants. Seems manageable enough, right? Wrong … It all started this summer. You see, my wife (God love her soul) wouldn’t just have any dog. She wanted what she described as a “big” dog.
So, being the all-accommodating husband I am, I go online and start researching the best large breeds for our family’s personality, our lifestyle and our geographical area. As you can imagine, I come back to her with information on labradors, golden retrievers and boxers.
We look over it and she seems to be open-minded. The next morning, we get up and she tells me she’s found a breeder that she wants to go see. And of course, excited about the possibility of getting a new puppy, I immediately agree.
So we get to the breeders house,  and out comes a young girl who was noticeably short in stature.
She asked if we were there to see the puppies. It was at this point that I realized I had neglected to ask my wife what kind of dogs we were there to see that day. And just as I turned to ask, my peripheral vision caught a glimpse of what I immediately associated with being livestock. And as my eyes adjusted and it came closer, I realized I was staring at a pure- bred European Great Dane. The girl called him over and provoked him to sit.
Growing up with German Shepherds, I had never seen anything so large. His head was boxy and firm, and his mouth looked like it could swallow a basketball. He stood at attention, nearly eye to eye with this girl.
I was simply shocked. I glanced over at my wife, and all she could muster was a sheepish grin. She knew all along what we were there to see and had just conveniently left out the specifics. This was about the time I realized what she meant by a “big” dog.
Then out came the puppies in all their glory. And of course, I knew by the look on my wife’s face that I was doomed. However, bound and determined to stand firm, I put my foot down and let her know that I thought this was simply more than we had planned for. After all, these dogs grown to well over 200 pounds and can easily consume 10 cups of food a day.  I simply told my wife NO; and I meant NO…
… So of course I wrote the breeder a check, and 10 minutes later we were homeward bound with a 20-pound puppy curled up in the floorboard of the car.  Of course, my wife was smiling from ear to ear, and even though I knew I had lost that battle, I couldn’t help but to feel a sense of satisfaction in knowing how happy she was. It might not have worked out how I had planned it, but at the end of the day, we got our big dog, a European Great Dane with a slick black coat.
We named him Baylor. He’s about seven months old now and he’s pushing 100 pounds. The vet expects him to be in the 190-pound range. He’s eating eight cups of food a day, in small portions of course, and he’s happy and healthy.
This story simply reminds me of what a run can be like. You set a plan for yourself, whether it’s a single run, or a consistent regimen. And though you have every intention of following up with the plan, sometimes the run can throw you a curve or two.
Maybe that hill seemed a bit longer today and your legs simply aren’t recovering the way you had hoped. Maybe you forgot to hydrate well enough and you can’t make that last mile due to cramps. Or you may have simply over-anticipated what you thought you could do and seemingly bitten off more than you could chew (pun intended).
Just like life, and wives with puppies, a run can be unpredictable. But you can’t sweat the small stuff. Just carry on and go on to fight another day. The important part is that you’re carrying through with a version of that plan: The Puppy Plan. That’s what I call winning the day.

Aaron Mabry is a former 800-meter and 1,000 meter state champion from Pisgah High School.
He ran collegiately at East Carolina University and graduated from UNC Charlotte.
Mabry is married and a technical consultant for Systel Business Equipment and Backbone Business Consulting in Asheville.
You can e-mail him at