I get the feeling that I’m helping my children in their efforts to wear me down. Not in the general sense like exhaustion but more like persuasion. Here it is, they want a dog and so do I, but I’m afraid of the responsibility that will come waltzing through the door ahead of the pooch. Still, I entertain the idea of having the dog a little bit more than they do.
My children and I have conversations about the type of dog we would like to have. Let’s face it, the idea of having a thing and the act of having a thing are drastically different. For me it changes like the direction of the wind and for them it changes because they are willing to compromise. The criteria that remain constant for me are the dogs’ size with minimal shedding. It also must be small and remain small as an adult dog.
I have some history with pets. I remember having dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, fish, a duck, and my sister had some birds. No, I didn’t have them all at the same time. I do remember being very excited about the newness of having a pet and the fun of playing with it for hours. I also remember that I never had any of the animals for very long. The coincidence is I don’t really remember what happened to most of the pets except for the dogs that would always end up belonging to someone else in the family or dead from being hit by a car. Tragic.
At some point in my life I became a borderline germaphobe and it still has its grip on me today, but that is only part of my hang up. The real issue is I want something that is impossible to have. I want a housebroken puppy. I said that out loud and my children laughed at me. I am so afraid of the responsibility of having a dog that I have found a criterion that can’t be met.
I have been moving the goal post for years and the reason I give my children is I have to be certain I’m ready and here is why; I bought a puppy for my boys about 11 years ago. I named her Ginger. In hindsight I did not know what I was getting into. Or I could say, I gave up too easily. I bought this puppy when she was six weeks old and it was more work than taking care of a baby. That’s probably an exaggeration yet it was very real. But I struggled through it.
Ginger was the cutest Dachshund. I was determined to make this work. I took her to training so she could learn to be calm and obedient. I made sure she was housebroken, spayed, had all of her shots, and conformed to all of the things that would make our lives with her as pleasant as could be. Sometimes all the planning in the world can be useless.
Ginger got fleas at one point and the house had to be fumigated. Probably the worst incident was when she stopped eating. Unbeknownst to us, she had swallowed a piece of one of her toys and after a couple of weeks back and forth between vets and specialists and $1,300 later the tiny foot of her bumblebee toy was discovered and surgery was performed to remove the object.
I came to the realization that the responsibility of taking care of Ginger and keeping her happy was weighing on me. So, I started asking around to see if there was anyone I felt was responsible enough and wanted to take her. I found someone willing to take her who had two other dogs and a cat. We moved away shortly after. We got the chance to visit her about four or five years later and she was still happy. She was well taken care of and running around with her friends. It was a happy ending.
I promised myself that I would not get another dog unless I was willing to fulfill the duties. I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that my children are going to be able to take on the responsibility of a dog without my assistance. I will expect them to help out, but if my past is to be used as a sounding board I have to be realistic. I want to get a shelter dog and sometimes they have had a tough life, I don’t want to make it any tougher.
A friend told me that I should wait until February—March timeframe. That’s when a lot of people decide they don’t want or can’t take care of their Christmas pets and off to the shelters they go.
As soon as I stop straddling the fence there will be no more straddling the fence. I will take the leap. If it feels right we may have a new family member. It is what my children want and it will be what I know I am ready for. Exactly when I’m ready.
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