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Monday, January 6, 2014

I Never Wanted a Dog

As a kid, we had dogs, several dogs in fact. I never remember going and GETTING a dog, either, it always seemed like they somehow appeared unbidden in our lives. Sometimes they overlapped by a few years, so we would have two dogs, a junior and a senior dog if you will.

Dogs I have lived with include, in no particular order: Pulgas, Patches, Red, Poochie, Hambone, Connie, and Tipper. This does not include the cats, birds, fish, ferret, Guinea pig, rabbits, hamsters and occasional turtle that we also shared residence with occasionally.

Later with my boyfriend/husband we had joint custody of a cat, but when his allergies flared and mine came back with a vengeance we re-homed her and lived the blissful life of non-pet owners. Non-pet owners have a charmed existence. The money that goes towards pet food, vet bills, boarding fees, special toys and groomers, can be spent on frivolities like bread or the good parmesan cheese. If you wind up at work late, or stuck in traffic you don't worry that there is a mad creature tearing up toilet paper while you are gone because they are bored, or alternatively, there isn't some poor soul crossing all 4 of its legs trying not to have an "accident" in the living room. The time you spend scooping a cat box or unfurling a tiny plastic bag in front of the neighbor's house can be spent reading or relaxing or just relishing the fact that the only feces you disposed of that day was your own.

Then we had kids. And for awhile it was quite like having a pet. They had to be walked, and taken for check ups, their shots were expensive, they required special food and of course you got up close and familiar with their defecation as well. But kids grow up! They learn to eat and even prepare simple foods! They toilet train! They go to free public school for 6 hours a day so it's like free boarding!

A dog always seemed like HUGE step backward in the slow process of freedom I secured for myself over the last few years. When you have a kid that can make cereal for itself and the other kid in your life? That my friends is the sweet taste of freedom to the prisoner. That extra 15 minutes of sleep for me in the morning would disappear if I had to walk a dog. No sir, nu-uh!

My children (then ages 10 and 5) had been campaigning for a dog for awhile. In fact when the elder child was only 5 herself, we had given her an option, she could have a dog or she could have a sibling. She negotiated for and received the promised sister, so her life and ours had been puppy-free. When the younger sister was a terrible two, the elder one tried to renegotiate for a dog again, so we introduced her to the legal term, "no backsies".

As the baby learned to speak she joined her elder sister in pleas for a dog. My rock-solid reasoning fell unheeded, "We move a lot. We are always on the road." didn't seem to penetrate their consciousness at all. In fact their whining only increased in volume and intensity.

When we moved back to Orlando, within whining earshot of their grandparents, the kids finally got their wish. As all grandparents are legally required to do, they caved immediately to the children's tiny terroristic demands. The grands announced plans to purchase a dog as soon as they were back from a 3 week trip. Knowing negotiation with them was as futile as dealing with the children, my husband and I moved quickly to secure a dog.

Again, no-one in my family ever buys a dog. You just GET a dog. As it turned out both my youngest sister and my mother had both recently acquired new dogs. My family traveled to see Mom and Sis and to quietly audition the animals. A mountain feist dog had recently turned up in a neighbors yard and ended up being fostered by my parents. A Chihuahua/terrier mix had been intercepted on it's way to the animal shelter by my sister. Both dogs were small, less than 10 pounds, which made them portable and appropriate for our peripatetic lifestyle and they both needed forever homes. The kids liked both dogs a great deal, but the little Chihuahua with the soulful brown eyes won the day. Also, I think my parents knew by this point that the mountain feist had bonded with their miniature pinschers and would make a lovely addition to their pack of ridiculously small dogs.

We broke the news to the girls while we were at the pet store. As we rang up a dog bed, dog crate, pet food, harness, new leash, chew toys, reward snacks, pet mess carpet cleaner, slicker brush, food and water bowls, and a book on puppy training I turned to the girls and said, "You have to get scholarships to college now." No joke, on pet supplies, spaying, shots and flea and worm medicines we easily spent $400.

We named her Delilah Jacqueline. She is commonly called Delilah. She likes to jump around and roll on the ground with the girls while they giggle like maniacs. She enjoys knocking over wastebaskets and chasing squirrels in the yard. She gets taken on a short walk in the morning by the kids, short walk in the afternoon to pick the girls up from school and then a long walk in the evenings. Her worms have finally cleared up, she's flea free. Can I say I am loving this entirely? No. I paid the neighbor kid to come over and play with the dog and walk her while we were at Disney all day. Coughing up another $20 on top of a trip to a theme park is, um, not my favorite way to spend money. That seriously cuts into my churro budget. I still really hate picking up poop, but I really hate people who leave the poop right there on the walk-way. Seriously, some of you people must be walking ELEPHANTS, the amount of poop that is out there! But a walk every night, that's good. Watching my kids play in the yard with their dog, that's good. Watching the dog sleep, curled in a ball, on my husband's lap while he watches football, that's good. Writing this post while the dog sits right on my hip, occasionally looking up at me with her goofy little face. That's good.

"Hey there Delilah, here's to you."

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