I realize we’re a nation of puppy and dog lovers. I’m not oblivious; I see the bumper stickers everywhere: I (heart) my German shepherd, I (heart) my collie.
The problem is, after being a dog owner for most of my adult life, my heart is no
longer in the mix.
Try to understand: I’ve been, um, unleashed from the joys of dog ownership for several years now. And I have to admit: I’ve enjoyed every fur-less moment. I don’t miss it one bit.
No more exasperating attempts at training a “poor puppy” whose delicate paws recoiled against the brutal harshness of … grass.
No more half-eaten ottomans because the “poor puppy” was only expressing his dissatisfaction at being left alone for 28 minutes.
No more wretched discoveries of a tsunami of dog excrement because the “poor puppy” ate a bag of chocolate balls, wrappers and all.
No more clingy strands of fur stuck to every couch, chair, pillow, blanket and article of clothing in the house because the “poor puppy” defies nature by shedding a full coat of fur every month of the year.
No more apologies at the dinner table when a guest closely examines a forkful of pasta and says, “Hey, is that mozzarella or a piece of …?”
“Oh! That’s mozzarella. Definitely!”
See? Puppy and dog ownership makes you so crazy that you will even stoop to deluding your family and friends.
Who needs this kind of stress, anguish and grossness in their daily lives? Puppies grow into dogs and dogs eat more, shed more, smell more and … do everything else in larger quantities, too.
Like a reformed smoker, I see dogs hanging precariously out of neighboring cars – looking impossibly stupid and oozing gobs of spit all over the window – and shake my head in disbelief. Why, I wonder, would anyone subject themselves to the ordeal of dog ownership? What a drag.
In my own defense, I will say that single friends of mine register a similar reaction to children, especially in family restaurants on weekend nights. I’ve watched as these friends register shock at the sight of a squirming, moaning, groaning, spitting and shouting toddler. Yes, children can be a flood of gerunds, right down to their dirty pants.
Well, give me a howling child any day. Just keep the dogs at a great and profound distance. Good riddance.
Or so I thought.
Two weeks ago, my daughter called on her way home and tentatively announced that she had “a big surprise” for me.
“Big shock” was more like it as she ushered in Chewy, a scruffy-looking little thing known as a Havanese. My daughter, who has a tendency to treat small animals like dolls, already had him dressed in a sweater and matching cap. To my surprise, he jauntily made a bee-line straight for my lap, his little scarf fluttering with the familiar sound of a tiny bell.
As only my daughter can do with a beguiling combination of speed and charm, she spun a new “poor puppy” story.
I’ve heard and lived all these stories before. Still, I tried to listen patiently. I really did. I have never even heard of a Havanese, but that is exactly what my stomach felt like it was doing: “Havanesing.” And that was before I watched the little mop of fur tumble out of my lap – but not before leaving a giant greenish-yellowish stain on my new silk skirt.
Is there meaning in metaphors? I tend to think so, which is why I don’t think I can survive another foray into the world of dog ownership. I mean, I’ve been blanked upon before.
So I need help. I need ideas. I need survival training tips. But most of all, I need to know why any self-respecting adult would willingly accept the horrors of dog ownership.
Throw me a bone. I promise: my bark is worse than my bite.