Guten Tag from Los Altos. My name is Boris, as in Boris Godunov, although sometimes I get called Boris Badenov, for no reason that I can discern. One thing you should know about me: I don’t do stairs. I mean, I can if I have to, but I’m a German Shepherd so my job is keeping a watchful eye on my family, and I can do that just fine from right here. I live with Tom and Ellen, and they treat me like the well-trained professional that I am. They look to me to let them know when Esther arrives with the mail or when the UPS guy stops out front. I tell them when it’s my feeding time (to the minute) and I stand guard (I’m just pretending to sleep) on the living room floor until 12:30AM, when I go off-duty to catch some Zs in my bed. Last year, Ellen wrote a novel called East of Troost, and I was the inspiration for the German Shepherd—also named Boris—who similarily doesn’t do stairs. Ellen made it a big deal when the Boris in her book eventually ventured down to the basement. But he had a reason, and as I said before, I can take the steps if it’s really necessary. It just hasn’t been absolutely necessary, not yet.