It’s the year 2002.
We have a puppy. A baby basset hound named Moses.
We have a Steinway square grand piano that a friend of ours is restoring to full tonal functionality.
The case, with gleaming walnut finish, slumbers in the music room. The soundboard, heavy and unwieldy, waits on the dining room floor.
The keyboard and action undergoes a meticulous transformation. Our friend knows his craft and custom builds at least three hammers to laser-fine precision.
Gina hopes her antique treasure will sing again, even better than before.
All that wood looks tempting to the puppy who one day wanders into the workroom while we are out.
He’s bored. Feeling mischievous.
The action is at knee level on a low table. All those hammers and keys look like candy.
I don’t have to tell you what happens next.
When we get home, Moses is in big trouble.
In life, there are real tragedies. Disasters beyond the scale of comprehension.
This is not one of them.
But it’s close. For a few minutes, it’s explosively close.
You can feel the air heat up as Gina stomps toward the dog. You can smell the ozone burn.
Defiance in both sets of eyes.
Moses’ days are numbered.
I take bets with myself, trying to remember the number for the animal shelter.
It’s not the first time he’s done something like this. There was the potted plant. The pile of magazines.
The pillow incident.
But this time it’s different. This time, the dog ruined something of true merit—chewing up a symbol of status, of ego like a ten cent strip of rawhide.
The piano will now cost twice as much to restore. If it can be restored at all.
We don’t have a baby human yet. But this is one of our first lessons as parents.
Status and ego? That’s on you, the parent.
Relationship. Fumbling around with consequences to actions. Learning what’s appropriate and what’s not.
That’s what children—and puppies—are into.
Gina scoops Moses into her arms and gives him a rough hug.
He laps away her tears of anger.
He’s disciplined, but ultimately forgiven. And of course the piano is fixed.
For the rest of his life, and with no urging from us, he makes his bed underneath the fine tuned Steinway.
He’s got good taste in musical instruments.
And apparently it tasted good too.