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Still, why do we put ourselves through it, not just once but over and over: the built-in grief that comes with getting a dog, the knowledge that in all likelihood, that dog is going to go ahead of us? To make our gluttony for punishment all the more puzzling, Penni points out they’re really difficult until they’re at least a year or a year and a half, “like toddlers,” as she puts it. She once had to wrap plastic around the legs of her piano because a dog she had kept chewing the wood. And then they’re often really difficult in a different way toward the end, when they’re not doing well and you walk around with your heart in your throat.