You could say that Bandit, my now 10-month-old dachshund, came into my life at a fortuitous time. She entered my sphere of existence precisely as a 20-year-long relationship and my decade-old marriage had come to an end. And while I was not actively searching for the companionship provided by a pet, in the end, she’s been an extraordinary source of happiness and fulfillment in what would otherwise have been a challenging time. Let me backup for a moment and explain that solitude is not a condition that I have an issue with. One of my favorite novels by Thom Jones, The Pugilist at Rest, is named after the famous statue of Theagenes in the National Museum of Rome’s Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. The book is about how life as we experience it leaves us with scar tissue. It leaves us battered, and yet like Theogenes, we remain resolute in our determination to not be broken, to remain undefeated. In one of many extraordinary short stories, Jones describes the life of Alexander Selkirk, the real Robinson Crusoe, who was a Scottish privateer in the Royal Navy. Apparently, Selkirk was such an intolerable pain in the ass, an individual of incredible sloth, ill-discipline and all-round bad attitude that his captain couldn’t take it anymore when Selkirk took to bad-mouthing the seaworthiness of their boat. He marooned Selkirk on a small remote Juan Fernández island in the South Pacific, imagining he would never see him again. I can only imagine the captain’s last words to Selkirk as he pulled away from shore to be, toodeloo mother***ker.