'The New Normal' Episode 16 recap: Can 'Dog Children' prepare new parents?

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On Tuesday night's "The New Normal," Bryan (Andrew Rannells) and David (Justin Bartha) think the responsibilities of pet ownership prepared them for parenthood, but their precious fur baby teaches them an unexpected lesson. Shania's (Bebe Wood) spot-on impressions of Dame Maggie Smith cause problems at school. Goldie's (Georgia King) raging pregnancy hormones and Clay's (Jayson Blair) newfound maturity lead to a romantic rendezvous.

Doggie daddies

David and Bryan have two dogs, but they raised little Harvey Milkbone from puppyhood. They endured sleepless nights, crying, and other inconveniences parents typically encounter for the sake of love. The guys consider him their "training wheels" for parenthood.

The devoted doggie daddies rush to the veterinarian after Harvey has a bout of vomiting. Although the X-ray is inconclusive, Dr. Howell hurriedly recommends exploratory surgery to prevent a potential problem from developing. David automatically agrees with the doctor, but Bryan wants to see how the dog responds to treatment before subjecting him to invasive surgery.

The guys stay at the clinic overnight so they can decide if surgery is necessary. Bryan has a dramatic outburst a la "Terms of Endearment." Later, the doctor reports that Harvey is recovering from a minor gas problem. David regrets making a quick decision and begins to question his parenting skills.

Dame Shania Clemmons

Meanwhile, Goldie has to meet with the assistant principal because Shania channeled the Dowager Countess from "Downton Abbey" and sassed her teacher. Goldie is angry Clay ditched the meeting. She can hardly concentrate because her pregnancy hormones are causing steamy daydreams.

She tries to discipline Shania, but the "Downton" devotee responds in character, saying the threat is "as empty as your dowry." Clay arrives during the showdown and instinctively reprimands Shania. He tells her to quit using the British routine to escape their rocky reality. He wants her to be herself because she is awesome. If she has to role play, he wants her to choose an American. Shania happily complies.

The twist

Goldie's hormones and Clay's impressive attitude lead them to spend the night together. Later, she has severe abdominal pains. Clay lovingly reassures her as they head to the hospital. Bryan and David rush from the pet clinic to the people hospital to check on Goldie.

The doctor diagnoses the pain as Braxton Hicks contractions, and he reassures Goldie that she'll continue with an uneventful pregnancy. The brief celebration ends when the vet calls to say Harvey died. The playful pup slipped his leash and was hit by a car.

Bryan and David experience a bit of a role reversal when David falls apart. He is devastated and regrets not bringing the dog home earlier. With Clay's approval, Shania comforts the guys by imitating Smith's Mother Superior from "Sister Act."

Revelations

Clay apologizes for being a bad person and pledges to make up for it. The quiet spark in Goldie's expression hints that she hopes he is right.

Bryan goes to church for a conversation with Father Michael (John Benjamin Hickey). The loss of his 9-month-old puppy makes him angry at all the incredible suffering in the world. He worries something will happen to his baby or one of the other people he loves. Father Michael helps him realize that he should be grateful he has so much to lose.

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