Steve and Joan were reminiscing about how Steve bonded with his stepdaughter.

A few years before Steve and Joan got married, when Joan was a single mom, Andrea, begged for, and got a kitten. Andrea's promise to take care of the kitten took on a strange twist, however. When the kitten sprayed on Joan's crushed velvet beanbag chair, Andrea's solution to the problem was to carry chair to the dumpster in the alley. Joan promptly retrieved the chair and had it cleaned. She also evicted the cat, in spite of her daughter's tears.

The cat spent the rest of its life on a farm and lived happily ever after, but Andrea spent the next year and a half whining for another kitten.

Shortly after Joan and Steve were married, Andrea, persistent adolescent that she was, continued her campaign for a kitten.

"Please, please, mom, can I have a kitten." Mom said no in every language she thought the girl could understand.

One evening after a busy day at work, Joan was frantically trying to piece together the evening meal from leftovers. She searched the refrigerator for appropriate go-togethers when Andrea started her usual song. "Please, please," she whined as she took plates to the dining-room table and danced back to the kitchen. "Please, please."

Joan lost it. She threw her hands in the air in desperation. "Andrea, I told you a million times, Steve's allergic to cats. We can't have a cat in this house."

"You did?" Andrea stepped back with a startled look on her face as if she had never heard that before. "Well, can I have a dog then?"

Joan shook her rattled brain. "Well, I guess so. I guess if it's all right with Steve."

Andrea bounced into the living room where Steve was reading the paper. "Mom said I could have a dog if it's all right with you."

Steve looked up from his paper, a startled look on his face. "Well, I guess… Sure, sure, I guess so."

Andrea's eyes sparkled. "It will be a girl dog and I'll call it Winnie."

At dinner there was some discussion about the kind of dog Andrea would get. Joan insisted it be a small dog. They lived in a city neighborhood, after all. Steve agreed a small dog would be best. Perhaps a terrier of some kind would fit the bill.

Next day Steve and Andrea bonded. They went to the humane society to pick up the small puppy Andrea had visited there several days before. It was a German Shepherd.

—M. LaCourt

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