OK, people, what, may I ask, is so funny about a puppy-dog named Ralph?

Nearly everywhere we’ve gone, people have said something like “oh, no” — and then screeched with laughter upon learning that me, Wife and the Johnson children named our puppy Ralph.

Even the staff at the Corinne T. Smith Animal Center, where we acquired the puppy, laughed heartily after learning we’re calling him Ralph.

He’s got big ears and kind of looks like a bat, so I call him Bat-Ralph. He’s kind of the size of a small cat. Ya think? Hey, it could work …

“Is it a male?” a friend named Johnson asked. “Get rid of it. Male dogs are just so stupid. Boy puppies — they just don’t understand. They don’t take directions — just like a man.”

That was kind of uncalled for, don’t you think?

Being a puppy, Ralph’s just a little guy and probably isn’t going to get much bigger. The animal shelter folks said he has a combination of breeding including long-haired Chihuahua and probably Yorkie.

While casting about for a column topic, I asked Bulletin editor Gene Deason if people would care anything about the new puppy.

“Animals are great,” Gene said, indicating I should proceed. So that means the three people who read my column will probably go ahead and read about Ralph, right?

“What should I say?” I asked Gene.

Gene had instant advice. “Will you be growing old together? Project where your kids will be when Ralph is a senior citizen. What will Ralph and your family see together?”

I’m not a real big “dog” person, especially after our experience with our last dog, Evans. That was not a happy time, and Evans hasn’t been with us for awhile now.

But when Wife and the Johnson children started talking about getting a puppy — a puppy that would grow up to be only a little doggie, an indoor doggie — what could I do?

So, last Saturday, we found ourselves at the animal shelter, getting acquainted with the weeks-old puppy who would become — Ralph.

“Take him home with you overnight! See how you do with him!” the shelter’s staff urged us. “You can bring him back if you don’t think he’s going to work out.”

It was obvious to everyone that once he left with us, he wasn’t coming back.

And that’s the way we became the Ralphie bunch.

Ralph does get kind of loud at night, yipping, yapping and yelping after being closed up in a doggie carrier. It’s rather annoying. What to do?

None of the advice I’ve gotten makes much sense to me, but if you’re a dog person, this will probably mean something:

Let’s see … sound of clock ticking. Stuffed animal with a similar hair style. Warm towel. Chew toy. I wonder if he’d like warm milk and cookies.

When Wife and I brought our first Johnson baby home from the hospital, we must have had 50 books in our possession that gave advice on how to care for a baby.

What to do when he cries. What to do when complains. What to do when he’s hungry. What to do when he isn’t hungry but still complains.

What to do when he has gas. What to do when he wants to stay up all night and watch television.

The way I remember it, you just had to let a baby be a baby, get it all out of his system, and all those issues worked themselves out.

Maybe we’re just going to have to let Ralph be Ralph. Now, if he doesn’t outgrow it in a couple of months, one of us is headed for the doghouse, don’t you know.

Now, this really is funny.

“Empty nesters looking to relive all the fun of raising children without relieving the turbulent teens are adopting some of our closest relatives: monkeys,” reads an article on an ABC News Web site.

“Families are dressing up capuchins, feeding them at the family dinner table and treating them like any other member of the family. They’re called monkids.”

The article referenced one such couple who encountered a little problem with their monkey. It bit. Not to worry, the mommy and daddy monkeys just had junior’s teeth removed.

The next time me, Wife and the Johnson children go visit our folks in Wichita Falls and Niagara Falls, I hope we don’t find out we’ve been replaced by monkeys.

And BTW: you folks at ABC News can pretend you’re related to monkeys (re: “our closest relatives”) if you want. I’ll skip that fantasy.

Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com.