There is a disease that comes with becoming a homeowner.

Its main symptom: You stare outside at that pristine backyard and think: “Something’s missing. Let’s get a dog.”

The Bride and I opted for my dream dog, a basset hound. You’re familiar with the myth of bassets? The one that says they are low-maintenance, well-behaved and sleep all day?

Myth? Heck, it’s a bald-faced lie.

She gives that formerly pristine backyard a lived-in, homey look and provides me with countless home-improvement chores, which all wind up on The List. But I wouldn’t trade The Dog for anything. The Bride would, but I wouldn’t.

But why opt for dogs? Wouldn’t it be cheaper, maybe even more politically correct, to adopt one of those wild animals in the backyard?

Take a squirrel, like the ones that sneak up to The Dog’s food bowl and steal her chow while she watches them, wags her tail and dreams of digging up flower beds and flagstone and of other ways to torment The Bride.

Squirrels don’t bark. And I’ve always found it relaxing to hear their pitter-patter as they run across the roof. Of course, squirrels also have a habit of annoying the blue jays and knocking their nests onto the patio, digging up the flower beds to store nuts, and adding assorted other clean-up chores to The List.

Come to think of it, squirrels are slime.

But my backyard is full of options. The Discovery Channel could film a special out there.

Cockroaches? Hey, some of those suckers are as big as cats. They also check out The Dog’s food bowl while she watches them, wags her tail and dreams of taking juicy bites out of the shed door and hanging fern and of other ways to torment The Bride.

Nah, cockroaches are nasty. And so are slugs. Besides, The Bride has no use for roaches. She’s a regular Annie Oakley with a can of Raid, and I’m not talking about Roach & Ant killer. That doesn’t do the job fast enough for her, so she brings out the heavy artillery: Wasp killer.

Ozone concerns aside, wasp killer certainly dispatches roaches instantly, but I can’t imagine what it’s doing to our foundation. And have you ever seen what wasp killer will do to a slug?

Of course, there are other pets.

Take the East Dallas couple who learned that a raccoon was calling their attic home. They thought they were rid of it and had the hole boarded up. But as they were walking out the door – dressed in formal attire – the raccoon let them know it was still in the attic and wanted out now, even if it had to come through the Sheetrock. So, in his tuxedo, the husband went upstairs, ripped off the boards and made sure the raccoon escaped. Or there’s the couple who built a dream home on a hillside, only to learn later that it was also on a rattlesnake den. They were sharing pantries and closets with these not-so-friendly pets. Hmmmmm. Raccoons? Rattlesnakes? I guess The Dog wasn’t such a bad investment after all.