“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War
I’m hanging-out with my dog today: Bubbles Ñeñe Pagan. I never met a gentler dog; He wouldn’t hurt a fly, honestly. And he’s great with the kids. I love this dog, I really do. Every time I look at him, every time, I’m reminded about the day he became part of the family and how it almost didn’t happen.
It was about five years ago, just before Xmas. My wife was pregnant with our first child and everyone had gone to the dogs, literally. My wife’s cousin had just gotten a dog and my brother and his family had just gotten one too. I had the epiphany that maybe we should get one :-). It would be the perfect Xmas gift for my wife and our growing family. I asked my brother to go with me to check some pups out and, as usual, he obliged (I only had to ask.).
We arrived at the first spot. All the puppies were lame-o except one. He had spunk: He was after the other dogs, playing with them, and bothering dogs bigger than him. A real troublemaker (my kind of dog.). My brother liked him too. And, he was cute. I knew my wife would love him. But, of course, I had my doubts. Women are fickle (sorry, Babe) and this was the first place we visited. Was I really sure I wanted this dog? So I call to the manager and I’m talking to him about the dog, negotiating. My brother was there with us too. I’m looking at Louis with that look like, “whaddya think, should I get him?” “Up to you,” he nodded back. As I’m having this internal debate in my head about purchasing the dog, I notice these three goons looking at a dog – my dog. They’re playing with him and obviously taking a liking to him. Suddenly, they’re on their way to where we were with the manager. Well, now I’m in a bit of a dilemma. I realized I had a decision to make, and I had to make it fast. If I don’t get this dog now, these goons will, and the perfect Xmas gift for my wife will be gone. But I don’t even know if I like this dog, or if my wife’s going to like him, or… you get my drift. So I throw caution to the wind, pull the trigger and agree on a price with the manager. I ‘purchased’ him. Sure enough, as we exit the manager’s office, one of the goons says to the manager:
Goon#1: “We want to talk about buying this dog.”
Manager: “I’m sorry, guys, he’s just been purchased.”
By the looks on their faces they were obviously disappointed and angry.
“You just bought our dog.” Goon#1 abruptly turns and says to me.
I turn to Goon#1 and say:
Ok, I didn’t say that. I didn’t even think of saying that at the time. But in retrospect, it would’ve been hilarious. I can just think of me and my brother laughing it up at these three goons, and then they really would have been pissed. Frankly, I don’t remember what I said. I just shrugged it off.
Goon#2: “How much did these guys pay for the dog? We’ll beat it.” He says to the manager.
“What!?” I thought.
And there it was: the beginning of an assault. I looked at the manager and he’s seeing $$$$ signs. “Just what I need,” I thought, “to spend more money on this little doggy who I just met. Is he really worth it? And who do these goons think they are, coming in here trying to run things? If the Joker and his two goons think they’re gonna run-up on us, on my brother and I – on Batman and Robin – they’ve got another thing coming.” It got a bit tense in a hurry.
Before it could get out of hand, I heard this said sternly:
Louis: “Sorry, fellas. We already purchased the dog and agreed upon a price. No one’s bidding for the dog. He’s ours now.”
No arguing with that. They were beaten, and they knew it. And with that, they left, and the manager resigned himself to selling the dog to us at the price we had agreed upon. My brother singlehandedly diffused the whole situation.
That was vintage Louis, always an ace in the hole. Whenever he was around, things were always right. He always knew how to handle any situation. He was a master at navigating conflict, a natural negotiator, a true diplomat. After the three toughs left, he said this to me:
Louis: “If those guys thought they were getting our dog, they had another thing coming.”
Damn right, bro. Damn right.
Every time my brother and his family came over, every time, my brother would greet the dog and we’d all laugh about that story together.