Against my better judgment, I recently got a dog. He’s now eight months old. I didn’t particularly want one. They mess the house and chew on things. They require a lot of care. The children promised they’d take care of him and I am sure you can guess how that has worked out.
The weird thing is, I am surprised to find that I enjoy having a dog. But not for all of the obvious reasons like unconditional love, man’s best friend, and so forth. I have not become a cuckoo, over the top, dog person. While I do not care to be licked by my dog, I like petting and snuggling with him. I did not anticipate the following reasons why I would like having a dog:
1) Confirmation that my children are not sociopaths. Not that I was really worried that they were, but I remember back to some psychology class in college where I learned that torturing animals is diagnostic of being a sociopath. My children really love this dog and are very gentle with him. In particular, I love watching my teenage boys return from school each day and rush to play with their pup. This daily ritual warms my heart. Even if it lasts only five minutes, dog ownership is worth every second of it.
2) Ascribing human thoughts and emotions to the dog is great fun for the whole family.
“Shoe, what shoe?” we joke, as he prances away with a sneaker.
“It’s Mommy,” my children announce when the dog comes running to greet me whenever I arrive from another room.
The dog recently hurt his leg. I called the vet who told me he should “take it easy.” My sister wondered why that should be so hard for a dog, as he doesn’t have to really do anything or go to school.
“Oh, he’s very busy,” I joked.
He has toys to fetch, squirrels and birds to chase, twigs to eat, and dogs to sniff.
3) Freedom to curse at the dog when no one’s around.
“Why would you do that?” a dog-loving friend of mine asked.
I replied, “Um, because he’s annoying sometimes,” stating the obvious.
4) The children no longer fear dogs. There are so many scary things in the world. One less thing for them to fret about.
5) Learning about dog behavior is fascinating. We hired a dog trainer because we think people like a well-behaved dog just like we all appreciate well-behaved children. During the first session, he taught him how to sit within minutes. He was like a magician. Or a dog whisperer. Training the dog ourselves proves a little harder, but together as a family we’re working on it.
Except for my 17 year old. Before we ever got the dog he was very clear about his feelings.
“I do not want a dog. I will not walk it or take care of it in any way,” he announced. He added, “I am leaving for college in a year and a half, why can’t you just wait?”
I respected his feelings. And in spite of himself, he loves the dog.
6) The dog is a friend for my disabled son. Sure, my son has his siblings and family friends but one by one they will leave the house. I relish seeing him actively play with the dog, throwing a ball for him to fetch. It gets him off the couch. And it gives him another way to love and be loved.
7) It forces me to get outside. Even in the cold months, I mostly find it invigorating. It’s good for him and for me. I see what’s going on in my neighborhood, greet neighbors, and meet other dogs and their owners.
8) I get a huge kick out of the dog park. It is a whole different sub-culture from the human parks. I recently was telling some other dog owners this at the dog park. We looked over to see one dog humping another. I remarked how that wasn’t really appropriate behavior.
“Use your words,” an older woman said to the dog. We all had a chuckle. Well, maybe not so different from human parks.
9) I enjoy watching the pup master new skills. We all cheered when he finally learned to go down stairs. The dog trainer told us male dogs learn to lift their leg to pee by watching other dogs. So I told my sister I was going to take him to the dog park so he could “man up.”
“You should have thought of that before you had him neutered,” she said. True, but the trainer assured us one has nothing to do with the other.
He recently started attempting to lift his leg. I couldn’t be prouder.
For some reason, I am not stressed out about having a dog. Sure, he’s chewed up a few things and had many “accidents” in the house. But he hasn’t trashed my house. And it’s all part of what makes our house a home. It’s not a museum; it’s for living. What’s one more living thing, even if it doesn’t use the toilet to go to the bathroom?
I see the benefit of having a dog for me and my family. It brings a lot of joy into our home.