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Canine Corps at The Core of Garland's Life

New Maltipoo, Bubba, the latest -- and smallest -- edition

by Alex Kinkopf @AEKinkopf / Arizona Coyotes

In this time of "the new normal(s)," many stories have been published about Zoom and other video calls being rather unceremoniously -- and sometimes hilariously -- interrupted -- and usually by children.

Well, now, meet Bubba, the three-month-old, Maltipoo puppy of Conor Garland, who managed to introduce himself in somewhat that manner to the NHL Network audience, the day before the Coyotes left for their road trip on March 30 -- and a few weeks before "National Pet Day," celebrated today.

Garland had returned from practice the day of the broadcast and came to the rescue of his girlfriend, Meghan, who was working from home. Meghan was having a difficult time focusing because of Bubba, who, Garland said, was not in his behavior mode. Garland grabbed the pup and still had him in hand when the NHL Network red light lit -- five minutes early.

"I couldn't pass him off in time," Garland said. "One of the hosts, Jackie Redmond, saw his head during a commercial break and asked about him. It was the first time he behaved, so I got lucky."

Meghan adopted Bubba while the Coyotes were in Anaheim. "The night (Brassard) scored his hat trick," Garland recalls.

"He's about three-and-a-half pounds," Garland said. "He's a mama's boy. He only likes me when I come home after games and he's sleepy. He plays with Meghan all day." 

Garland always had a dog growing up in Massachusetts. "I've had a dog since I was a little kid, and I don't think there's any better companion for someone to have."

Garland grew up with a Golden Retriever named Sammy, who passed away five years ago. 

"He was like my best friend in the world," Garland said. "I can't even talk about him without getting choked up."

His family lost another "best friend," Max, a yellow Lab, last year.

But the Garland clan still has one dog, back home, Sunny, a three-year-old Golden Retriever, 

"When we go home in the summer, he mostly lives with me," Garland said. "But sometimes my dad will take him to the Cape on weekends and just let him run free. Most of the time, my parents work. So, after my morning workouts we'll hang out at home together and go to the park."

As you might have surmised, when it comes to dog size, the newest Garland canine is a bit of an outlier.

"I never really liked little dogs," said Garland, a formerly self-proclaimed "big-dog guy."

But Garland grew close to Phil Kessel's two mini-Goldendoodles, Luna and Stella, when Garland lived at Kessel's house last summer.

"Luna was just so loving," he said. "I told Meghan that if we were to get another dog, it'd have to be like Luna.

"That's part of the reason we got Bubba. He's kind of the same breed. They're just the best dogs, the most loving."

Said Garland: "Luna and Stella, those are Phil's babies. He loves them."

Indeed, Garland's stay with Kessel ended up rent-free, so as a gift, Garland commissioned a painting of Luna and Stella for his teammate.

"He loved it," Garland said. "That was my only way of thanking him, because I know he loves them so much.

"Phil is like the best guy, right? He wouldn't let me pay him rent for staying at his house for a couple months. I felt bad. I'd always ask him if I could, or at least try to pick up meals. He's just too good of a guy and he'd never let me. So, I got him a painting of his two dogs."

As for Bubba: "If I play a horrible (game), he has no clue," Garland said. "He just wants to lay with you. Dogs have no clue if you won or lost, they're just happy to see you. So, it's sometimes nice to come home to that, just getting to lay on the couch with him. It's hard to fall asleep after games sometimes, so we'll play a little bit, watch a show. I'll eat my postgame meal and sometimes fall asleep on the couch."

Garland plans to bring Sunny to Arizona next season.

"He's the man," Garland said. "He's massive. He's got big paws and a big head. We just wrestle all day. I'm excited to see how he and Bubba are together because they're both insane. There's going to be a lot of wrestling matches in my house."

And, perhaps, who knows, another NHL Network canine cameo.

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