Not….unfortunately not. Thirty days after her Valentine’s Day tryst with a pipette of semen, courtesy of Homer, an ultrasound confirmed that Laila was definitely not pregnant. What went wrong I kept asking myself, but the more that I thought about it, the more that I convinced myself that it just wasn’t bershert, and for good reasons. Over a year ago, when circumstances had gotten to the point that it seemed as if Linda and I were living with the dogs and not visa versa, I promised her that I would limit our resident canine population to four. In addition to Fessie, Gadi, Modi and Laila, when brother Boker came to visit four days a week and distant cousin Kaya came on Shabbat, the dog population frequently was more than their human counterparts. Laila was young, Fessie was aging and had a serious illness and it didn’t seem as if my promise would ever be put to the test. But it was. Having passed on breeding her on her previous heat, eight months earlier, I felt an urgency about the ticking of Laila’s biological clock. Realistically, I felt that I only had three more chances to breed her, starting with the heat that was fast approaching, and although I knew that I would be breaking my promise, I caved in to the pressure. And what made it seem so right was the way the timing went – for god’s sake, she was going to be bred on Valentine’s day which coincidently was her grandmother, Fessie’s, twelfth birthday. How great was that going to be? When I wrote the story, The Year of Perfect Symmetry, the general feedback was very positive; beautiful and touching were the words frequently used to describe it. I did have one critic who excoriated me for writing it. “It’s out with the old and in with the new. You are trying to kill Fessie with puppies,” said Linda. As I projected ahead to the timing of Laila’ next heat period, I realized that the timing couldn’t be worse, but then again there is a possibility that it couldn’t be better. In early October this year, the French Bulldog Club of America will hold the National Championship competition in Louisville, Kentucky, and that is very close to the time that she will be fertile. It could work out that she is going to be ready to breed during the week of Specialty Shows. She’ll be among the hottest studs and could have her way with any of them. But then again, if we are off by a few days, there might be the difficulty of transporting the semen to us, as we will be on the road, first to Lynchburg, Virginia to visit with family and then off to New York to visit with Dr. Melanie and attend my 50th high school reunion. Another bizarre twist occurred in relation to Fessie’s health. As I stated before, Fessie had much more difficulty following this second round of radiation treatments for her brain tumor. As the uncertainty of Laila’s pregnancy played out, Fessie got even weaker and had more problems breathing due to her laryngeal cartilages collapsing as she breathed. It got to the point that Linda and I were tearfully considering euthanasia. Fessie, she who epitomized the joy of eating, even stopped eating due to difficulty swallowing. But then a strange thing happened. As soon as Laila’s non pregnancy was confirmed, Fessie started recovering. In the ten days since the ultrasound she has steadily increased her activity. Her appetite has returned and her breathing has gotten much better. At this rate she would have been around to greet the great grandchildren but we will have to be content to know that she will be here through the fictitious gestation of her granddaughter, Laila. I love my wife. She is always right. I love my wife, she is always right. I love my wife, she is always right.