Get­ting out of the dog­house

Los Angeles Times - - THE PETS ISSUE - By Mary MacVean twit­ter: @mmacvean

You’re not sure it’s go­ing to hap­pen for you, but it does: You find the mate of your dreams. He has an en­vi­able Pa­cific Pal­isades ad­dress and you both have top jour­nal­ism jobs. So, can a ga­loopy mutt named Ed­die — granted, one whose an­tics prompted the post of­fice to put the house on a “do not de­liver” list — re­ally rain on your pa­rade?

You bet. Full-on cy­clone down­pour, in fact.

In “Step­dog,” Mireya Navarro of­fers a funny and hon­est — that is, not al­ways f lat­ter­ing — tale of her jour­ney to fig­ure out where she fits in among hus­band, stepchil­dren and Ed­die, the mem­ber of the fam­ily that seems to have the big­gest per­son­al­ity. And of­ten not a per­son­al­ity Navarro ap­pre­ci­ates, with dog hair, pee on car­pets, scratches on doors and more.

She un­der­es­ti­mated Ed­die’s place in the house­hold: “It be­came ap­par­ent that a good chunk of my life would be squan­dered prov­ing who was more al­pha,” she writes. At one point, she says, “I was ready to kick the dog to the moon. What a pill.” But was Ed­die the prob­lem? It took some near tragedies and the ad­vice of a pet shrink for Navarro to gain “clar­ity about all of our re­la­tion­ships.” While she never ques­tions the love be­tween her and her hus­band, mar­riage, chil­dren and ca­reers don’t work with­out work. And, as she says, “never ever un­der­es­ti­mate the dog.”

From all that she learned, Navarro in­cludes a list of do’s and don’ts; here are a few of them: Show you’re not a com­peti­tor for food or af­fec­tion; the dog, and the chil­dren, for that mat­ter, should know right off the bat there will al­ways be plenty of both for them, es­pe­cially bis­cuits. Do down­ward-fac­ing dog. Yoga helps. Give it time. Step­fam­i­lies don’t mesh easily. It some­times takes dog years.

Katie Clay

IN HER new memoir, “Step­dog,” Mireya Navarro re­counts her strug­gles with her new hus­band’s can­tan­ker­ous dog, Ed­die.

G.P. Put­nam’s Sons

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