Our neighbours brought home a black lab puppy last winter and Avery fell in love. Whenever she saw Mack out with his owners she would run outside to pet him, play with him and, as he got bigger, walk him and throw balls for him. Thus began the never-ending plea: “When can we get a dog?”
Life is already complicated with two little kids, so surely I must be crazy to even consider adding a puppy to the mix? This is what friends-with-dogs tell me, anyway. “Are you sure you’re ready for that? It’s like having another child,” I was warned just last week. A puppy chews on shoes, pees in the house, cries in the night like a baby and needs to be taught obedience. It’s a lot of work, so why would I want to go there when my youngest pup (Bennett) is — almost — finally trained up?
Taking care of a fish, on the other hand, is so simple. We purchased our betta, Blue-blue, on Jan. 25, 2010 as a reward to Avery for giving up her soother. Blue-blue just floats there all day and doesn’t complain about going hungry or his filthy bowl. Against all odds he is still alive. Yes, Blue-blue is boring, and I think Avery realized what a lame pet a fish makes after a couple months when she started asking questions like, “When Blue-blue dies can I get a hamster?”
If there’s one thing I learned from my childhood: don’t let kids have rodents as pets. Or birds. Cleaning out those cages is disgusting. Before Blue-blue we had a cat named Moggy. Moggy was an okay pet until I developed an allergy to her, at which point we kicked her out of the bedroom and she began the annoying habit of standing outside our door meowing mournfully in the night. By the time we moved into our current house and Avery was born, we were locking Moggy down in the storage room when we went to bed. When I was pregnant with Bennett we shipped Moggy to Arkansas to live with my mom.
That, dear readers, is our track record with pets. We exiled a cat and neglect our fish.
I should confess up front that I am not a dog person. I grew up with cats and so developed somewhat of an aversion to slobber and stinky dog fur. Any yet. I see the amazing bond that families develop with a dog. I marvel at the lengths (and expense!) my friends will go to to keep their dogs healthy (knee surgeries, etc.). I get excited thinking about our future dog curled up at my feet while I write, I fantasize about hiking with her in Fernie (she won’t complain about the distance like our children do), and I get weepy imagining what a good friend she’ll be to Avery, and especially Bennett. Our family doctor says dogs make great companions to children with autism.
So (gulp!), we’re getting a dog. Am I crazy? Or will this be the best thing ever?