Tuesday, April 21, 2009

To Pooch or not to Pooch?

Ok, this one is a VERY serious subject. I know we've treated Easter, faith and politics and weighty subjects before. But this topic has life-altering implications. Should I buy a pooch for my family or not? And if so, is this the best time?

I know what you're thinking--what does this have to do with spiritual pilgrimage? "Everything," is my immediate response. Buying a dog requires maturity. Self-discipline. Insider knowledge on the right kinds of foods to buy and not to buy. For instance, I can't remember; can dogs eat chocolate? Isn't that poison to them? Or potatoes; I think there was some story that dogs can't eat potatoes. See, I break into a sweat thinking about all those details. I just don't know if I'm ready for this kind of responsibility.

Because the last time I had direct experience with a dog was when I was a kid. And to be honest with you, I was not so much into the responsibility part of owning a dog. Don't get me wrong, I loved good old Lappy. That was our part-collie, part-border collie, UPS truck-chasing machine of a dog growing up. I could scratch behind his ears with the best of them, but when it came to feeding him, brushing him, giving him heart worm pills (you gotta be kidding me!) I just broke out in a cold sweat and found a reason to disappear...go read a book, watch paint dry, whatever I could do to duck it. And now, as I look into my heart, I see the same immature (lazy?) attitude lurking.

So would immaturity and laziness keep me from giving my kids the time of their life? Not consciously, of course. I would name many other reasons, making mature adult sounds as I cite the lack of a fence, dog allergies, busy family schedules, evidences of my children's immaturity (hello pot, this is kettle. You're black) but I'm willing to bet it's my own immaturity that's to blame. I find it stunning that a reasonably mature adult can still have fortresses of adolescence smiling with puerile indifference deep in our hearts. I mean, I have three kids for heaven's sake, what can be so hard about this?

I guess that I need to face this childhood impulse to slackness head on. Suck it up and learn the grown up responsibilities of being a dog owner. I could use some suggestions on what breed to buy, however. And the longer you take, the longer break I have from maturity. So make your comments DETAILED and involved. The kids have convinced my wife...so I think I may be mounting Custer's Last Stand. But I did think it was brilliant that I showed them all "Me and Marley" the other day. As they were all crying, I said "That's what happens when you get a dog; he tears up things and then he goes and dies on you." I'm holding my ground for now...

What should I do? Let me know your opinion.


Anonymous said...

I can't believe you told them that after watching marley and me!!!! HAHHAHAHHAHAHHA. oh dear.

I hate dogs; I root for a cat.

J.R. Peaks said...

If you get a dog, it is like another kid.

Henry said...


There's nothing like having a dog around the house. But, it's a time investment for sure.

Now, today's dog is different than Lappy. Well, I'm sure the dogs are the same, but the owners are different and certainly the industry has evolved to suck the life out of your wallet. No longer can a dog be considered perfectly content running at full speed across the back yard while every delivery man drives by. There are play dates, and doggie-daycare, and other social pressures for your dog's welfare that come into play now. Lest not us forget doggie health insurance.

But, eventually, you'll cave. And, when you do, consider a rescue instead of a purchase. With a rescue, you're already starting on a good foot in several ways.

Jane Steen said...

Here's my two cents: get the dog, but do it with your eyes wide open. However much your kids may promise, you and your spouse will be in charge of looking after Fido. Are you willing to walk the pooch twice a day? When it's raining or there's three feet of snow? Is someone at home during the day to look after him/her? Dogs need company and a bathroom break at lunchtime, at the very least. Beware of high energy dogs that need a lot more time and TLC or otherwise end up being destructive.

First tip: get a crate. Dogs really do get used to that fast, and it saves a lot of trouble in many ways if you can get your doggie used to the fact that the crate is a safe and happy place. Second tip: get insurance for veterinary care. I would never have believed I would shell out for chemo for a dog with cancer, but I did. She lived an extra 18 months and it cost us a fortune (and she was peacefully euthanized as soon as the chemo stopped working.) Third tip: a healthy mutt is a better deal than an expensive purebred unless you're VERY sure about the breeder. Get a dog from a shelter if you can; think about getting an adult dog to avoid all those puppy stages unless you like cleaning up puddles. Many people are giving up their dogs due to the economy so there'll be a lot more family-friendly dogs in shelters this year.

Good luck.

kiddrev said...

Rock on people. These were very helpful comments. But if puppies are like people, do they ever need braces? That is our next hurdle.

Glad you remember Lappy, Henry. There was a carefree, "old school" dog if ever there was one. Guess he has gone the way of the "woodie" station wagon and pet rocks.

Now that I think of it, pet rocks don't require insurance, do they?

amanda danae said...

all I can say is that you NEED to preserve the these musings for your children to laugh at in the future. you are hilarious! =)