I am sitting on a park bench while my daughter runs around a playground filled with children. Suddenly she comes rushing down the slide and gallops across the sand. “mom, mom!” she excitedly shouts. “Did you see the yellow dog?! Can we get one?” I scoop her into my arms and smile, “the answer is no, you may not have a dog”.
My mom takes the kids to small farm on a Saturday afternoon. They come home covered in dirt and smelling of hay. “I got to pet a puppy today!” they tell me. “Can we get a puppy? He was sooooo cute and nice!” My mom offers me a guilty smile, “he sounds like a lovely puppy” I say, “but the answer is no, you may not have a dog”.
At dinner on a Thursday evening the youngest eats all of his broccoli without complaint and the oldest volunteers to clear everyone’s dishes. After she is done her chore she tells me that all she has ever wanted in her whole life is a dog and her brother wants one too and they will do anything in world if I would just say yes. But I wont, I will say no and they will both cry and make a fuss. But I will not change my mind…
“The answer is no, you may not have a dog.”
I know what you are thinking, you think I am anti-animal or that I am a dog hater. In fact, I am going to make a bold statement and call myself a dog lover. I even have photo evidence!
There you have it. I love dogs. They are wonderful, friendly animals and a visit with a dog always guarantees a smile. The key word here is visit. I am all for a nice visit with a dog but I am 99.99% certain that I will not change my mind about actually owning one. “Why?” you ask (as do my future children). Well let me tell you a story.
There once was a time when all I wanted in life was a pet. When I was 7 it was a cat, when I was 10 it was a hamster and from 16 on wards it was a dog. I did have a gold fish called bubbles for a short period of time when I was 9, but he was a pretty dull creature if I’m being honest. I begged my parents for years but they never relented. “I’ll walk it! I’ll clean up after it! I’ll feed it! I’ll do anything. Puhhhleeeeeese” The answer was always no.Then I started dating a guy with a dog and he was the love of my life, the dog not the guy. This dog was named Pal and he was a beautiful old black lab. He was so placid, friendly, relaxed and kind. Long after the guy and I had called our relationship quits, he still updated me on Pal. I remember when he texted me to say they had to put him down, I cried my heart out. From then on I went out of my way to make friends with dogs. I would pet them on the street, I would visit the therapy dogs at school, I even went through a phase where I watched animal planet’s live puppy cam for fun. I’m not even kidding, I also have a pinterest board dedicated to puppies. The addiction was real.
Then about a year ago Lucas’s sister and her fiance decided to get a fuzzy little monster of their own. A gorgeous golden retriever named Simba. He is the dog in the top 2 photos pictured above. I remember the first time I met Simba, he was so small and so soft. He sat in my lap and slept. It was so peaceful and so perfect. I was instantly in love. The next time I saw him, Simba had grown a lot! In a matter of three short months he had gone from a small, precious puppy to a big, excited dog. Except for mentally he was still a puppy. So he would run like a puppy and he would play like a puppy and pee inside the house like a puppy, but he was big, really big. Huge actually. Obviously my love for him didn’t change, but my patience did.
In July, Lucas’s sister got married, so Lucas and I took on the responsibility of Dog-sitters for the duration of their honeymoon. Now this may sound naive, but good lord that was the longest week of my life. It went something like this…
Walk. No, Simba, don’t eat that. Leave it. Sit, sit, sit, fine don’t sit. Eat your breakfast, no, you’ll eat pine cones but not dog food, that’s cool. He’s peeing on the carpet! Really? My nude heels, you had to eat my nude heels. Slow down, gentle, gentle, ow my arm! Slow Down! Walk. That is the biggest poop I’ve seen in my life. Oh god, its warm, ew, ew, ew. Not that way, this way, no, this way, come on, this way! Lets go around the puddle, nope, okay through it works too. Sit, sit, sit, fine don’t sit. I’m not giving you my food, you have your own food. I don’t care if you sit there with those sad puppy eyes. Good god, Simba, your breath stinks. Fetch! Yes, it is another dog, shhhh, it’s just another dog. Walk. Sit, sit, sit, seriously will you just sit!..
That week felt like one of those high school assignments where you and a partner have to care for a fake baby for a week. But this wasn’t a plastic toy with an automated crying machine. It was a puppy, a very real puppy. And not only was I responsible for him… I think I did a pretty terrible job of caring for him, luckily Lucas was around to pick up my slack. I hated waking up to walk him and I hated it even more when I had to come home from a long day at work and walk him again. Not to mention that I had no control, I had no authority, I mean I wasn’t walking him, he was walking me. And I was angry at myself for letting him get to things like socks and shoes and I was angry with him for ruining my stuff. My couch smelled terrible and to top it all off I discovered very quickly that I am, in fact, allergic to dogs.
So at the age of 23, after living alone for 5 years, graduating University with 2 degrees and being a self-proclaimed dog lover… I was not equipped to own a dog. My life long dream had come to a slobbery end. In a way I am sad because I really do love Simba, he isn’t even a bad puppy, he is just a regular hyper-active puppy and I did always want a puppy of my own. But I have come to realize that this was a blessing in disguise because at least I know now. I know that I don’t have the patience or motivation to own a dog and if I don’t feel equipped to care for a pet now when I have very few responsibilities, how on earth will I be equipped when I also have children to take care of. Poor animal care and neglect is cruel to the animal, it is abuse and the last thing I want to do is cause a beautiful puppy stress and harm. I will happily watch Simba again (as long as I take my allergy meds first) and I love it when he comes over for short visits. However, when my kids ask for a dog I will gladly take them to a shelter to play with a puppy, and when they are old enough I will encourage them to volunteer at the veterinary clinic. But when it comes to actually owning a dog, the answer is no.