Monday, May 10, 2010

We're Thinking of Getting a Dog

Yes, we are thinking of getting a dog.  Apparently both my wife and my 17-year-old daughter feel that they have missed out on something by not having anything furry to love, at least nothing that was bigger than a hamster.  (We have indeed had hamsters.)

I am not happy about the dog.

I admit I had a dog as a boy.  My parents, however, were too cheap to spring for distemper vaccinations and when my dog took sick he had to Go To A Farm To Get Better after which he had A Terrible Accident and Was Not Coming Home.  I was seven.

Most of my pets have been cats.  I adore cats.  Unfortunately, in October of 1990, I became ill with what we thought was a cold that would not go away.  After much wailing, gnashing of teeth and visiting of numerous medical persons, it was determined that I was allergic to cats.  In fact, I was desperately allergic.  I had a stronger reaction to the cat injection during the allergy testing than I did to the histamine control.  I tried several remedies, none of which were successful, and my health further deteriorated as I developed asthma from the continued exposure to our cats.  (We had only two, but it was enough to make me sick.)  We finally had to find new homes for our kitties.  It was devastating.  Since my daughter didn't come along until 1992, she did not grow up in a house with cats.  During her childhood she did have numerous hamsters and goldfish, and even a lizard which was marketed to her as a "baby dragon."  I had to buy live crickets several times a week for years until the lizard passed away.  So we have not been without pets.

Recently I caved in on the semi-constant requests for a dog.  I said that as long as I had nothing to do with the animal's care I was OK with them finding a dog.  Frankly, I hoped that with work, school, the search for a college, etc., the search for a dog would fade into the background.  Instead, the very next day, in conversation with a friend at church, my wife learned of a seven-year-old miniature poodle that was being terribly bullied in its new home and since poodles shed minimally, thereby meeting one of my conditions, he just might be The Dog For Us.


I did remind them that my conditions were, in fact, etched in stone:  I would not care for the dog, I would not walk the dog, I would not feed the dog, I would not clean up the dog's messes; indeed, apart from making sure that I was established as the dog's pack "alpha" I wanted nothing to do with it.  I simply do not want to walk a dog from now until I'm in my late 60's since, at age 57, I already struggle with daily bouts of migratory rheumatoid arthritis.  I just don't want to do it.  Truthfully, I don't want to take any walk in weather conditions that are not pleasing to me just because I have to.  And I don't want to pick up something else's poop.  I can barely deal with my own poop.

Just today my wife said that the tear stains we noticed on the little guy's fur might be caused by something serious.  I remarked something to the effect that she'd have to let me know how things turned out when she took him to the vet.  I think she was less than pleased, as, being a busy physician, she has little room in her schedule for a vet appointment right now.  I, of course, pretended not to notice her reaction.  And at age seven I really worry about training the dog out of any bad habits he might have, although he does seem to have a nice temperament.  And I know, I just know that at some point I am going to be stuck taking it to the vet, to the kennel, shopping for it, and walking it in the sleet and heat and snow and rain.  And I hate the very thought.

I know; I'm a prick.

If it weren't for the fact that I sympathize deeply with a creature who is being bullied by its peers, I would be trying to find every delaying tactic I could, rather than have a dog come into our home.  But I was bullied as a kid, and it sucks.  Nothing should have to live with bullying.  But even that wouldn't necessarily push me into getting a dog.  The reason I'm going along with all of it is simply because I love my wife and my daughter more than I love my own life.  If this gives them pleasure, I will go along with it with as much good grace as I can manage.  I want them to be happy; their happiness means far more to me than my own comfort.

I will let you know how it all works out.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely share your feelings about getting a dog, Tom. No allergies here, so we already have a cat - that is plenty of pet for me!

    My standing deal with my own spouse is that we can get a dog on the day that he can show me that he's made arrangements such that I will never have to walk the dog or clean up dog poop. Once or twice a year, whenever he starts talking about getting a dog again, I remind him of our deal, he makes some half-hearted attempts to look into an electric fence and/or a dog walker, and then he drops the subject it again for a few months. Repeat regularly.

    I think he's secretly hoping to catch me in a weak moment, a moment where instead of reminding him of our deal, I'll say, "oh, OK, what the heck, why not?" And then I end up making all of the arrangements for the care of the dog, like I do for most things in our household. But it ain't gonna happen.

    I'm a prick too, I guess. :-)