Edmonton, Canada

Once a person breaks the law, there is no turning back. It can happen at any age. Mother drifted into crime at 92.

This was when she started to worry about being alone. I suggested we get her a dog since Mother has had them all of her life. She believes when she dies she'll again see all her pup friends. (Mother could be right and God'll have to give her a fair-sized yard in heaven.)

"I can't have another dog because I'll die before it does and there will be no one to look after it," she said.

"Why don't you get an old dog, Mother?"

Off to the pound we went and picked out a middle-aged terrier.

Mother chose Nike (the Greek goddess of victory). Nike was a guy dog but he wasn't going to stay that way long because the pound made Mother sign an agreement she would have him fixed after we took him home.

Nike had been a runaway as far as we could figure out. The little guy was confused and frightened but Mother lovingly won him over. She even taught Nike to howl, on command, like a tiny wolf.

All of Mother's dogs had lived indoors and none had ever mated without her consent. She saw no point in having Nike neutered, he'd had a rough enough life already. Mother felt if he were fixed, he might stop his wolf howling -- something she and all of her friends thought was wonderful.

The pound phoned when we neglected to send in the proper papers from the vet. I explained to a nice but officious young lady that Mother was going to keep Nike "as is." The young lady said if Nike was ever caught off our property, she herself would neuter him, then charge Mother castration fees and horrendous penalties.

I relayed to Mother the fact that the pound woman was a dedicated castrator. Mother held firm. "No way I'm neutering Nike. He won't ever run loose and if that girl calls back, tell her I'm getting a lawyer to prove I signed under duress."

No one from the pound called back and Mother -- true to her word -- kept Nike indoors. When Mother walks Nike, she makes certain he's on a leash.

I don' know if Nike realizes how close he came to losing the family jewels but I'm sure he he could talk he'd testify he's happy. (Testify comes from the ancient practice of swearing an oath on your testes.)

The fact is, Mother broke the law for that little terrier -- and as I said, there's no turning back after one begins a life of crime.

Take the tiny critters we found in Nike's Iams dog food.

Mother had me call Iams. The lady at customer relations swore that Iams has the cleanest processing plants in the world, but occasionally, after a shipment leaves its plant, worms can get into the food. She assured me that the worms -- which eat only grain -- would not harm Nike.

Ms. White said that during shipping, someone could have nicked the sack and a worm could have hopped in. She promised to send me a coupon for a brand new sack if I would throw away the unused feed.

I agreed and bought a smaller sack to tide us over until the coupon for the replacement bag arrived. I sprinkled the wormy feed into the alley so birds and squirrels could enjoy it.

Hours later, I caught Mother spooning up the feed from the alley.

"What are you going to do with that?" I asked.

"Feed it to Nike," she said. "The girl said it wouldn't hurt and this stuff is expensive." (Obviously Mother had been listening in on the extension -- this in itself is probably some kind of misdemeanor -- but hard to prove.)

"I promised we'd throw it away," I said. "We're breaking an agreement."

"When you're old, crime comes easy," said Mother. "Now get out of my way."

I reached out to take the wormy feed from Mother, Nike gave a wolf howl and sprung for my groin -- I retreated.

Not only is Mother deeply involved in crime, now she's got the wolf-dog as an accessory. At this rate, I fear neither of them will end up in heaven.