The boys want a dog. Like really bad. What boy doesn’t want a dog, I guess. And when I say boys, I mean all the males who live in my house. Here’s the hitch: they’ve teamed up, and I’m fearful they are using their collective cuteness and unparalleled persistence as their secret weapons.
Frankly, I don’t feel that I’m ready for a dog. Two human boys? Sure, I can handle that. Well, sometimes, I can handle that. But a dog? With fur and paws and stuff? I don’t know. Frankly, I don’t know how good of a job I’m doing right now with what I’m already responsible for.
I’ve been casually interviewing people on the street about how their lives have changed since the dog. It’s hair, and shoe chewing and “surprises” in the hallway. I saw Marmaduke this summer while we were on vacation in Las Vegas, which as it turns out, was the only redeeming quality of the movie. On top of it being a simply awful cinematic disaster, it did not help the boys’ argument for the dog. There was a lot of slobber, and passing gas, and the guy losing his job because of Marmaduke’s terrible terrible behavior (I hope I didn’t spoil any critical plot points.)
Of course, I’ve had a few people tell me it’s been the best, most wonderful thing that has happened to their family. John is consistently reminding me about those people. I turn around and cite the few souls who flat out told me, “don’t do it, just have another kid.”
I’ve had dogs. Well, I think it would be more accurate to say that my brother had dogs, and I lived at the same address as said dogs. Scott & Mugsy shared a close relationship long before I was ever born. I mean for years. Mugsy went to doggy heaven when I was still little. Through the years, the story of how he’d shown up abandoned on our doorstep one 4th of July when Scotty was a tyke became family lore. Apparently, he was the world’s most perfect dog. He had the body of a full size canine, and the legs of a tiny one. He stepped over toys, and slept in front of our bedroom doors as our guardian and never chewed anything and would let my brother and the neighbor kids dress him up when they played cowboys, spacemen, and army. (Um, my brother was a kid in the 60’s. I played Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman and Remington Steele).
Zeke was also technically my brother’s dog. We got him about 2 months before Scotty left for college. Zeke and I were cordial to each other but we had drastically different interests and schedules. He was a Brittney Spaniel, a hunting dog with a lot of energy, and my parents had to add 2 more feet to the back fence because he could jump out of the yard flat-footed without even trying very hard. He stayed outside and had his own little house, and when Scott would come home from college he would breeze in the front door, say hello to us, and head straight out the back to hang out with his furry little buddy.
Yes, a boy and his dog. That is what my boys envision for themselves. Every essay that Jake writes, if it’s not entirely about a fictional dog, or the general greatness and amazingness of dogs, or the emptiness he feels because he does not have a dog, includes at least a sentence proclaiming his untamed desire for the animal. He does in fact look like a kid who should have a puppy. Overalls, a fishing pole, and a loyal canine companion. He’s got freckles, a sweet smile and floppy hair that hangs in his big brown eyes (See?? I can’t even get my kid a haircut – how can I have a dog?)
Zach’s on the same page. He has a legion of stuffed puppies who, he reminds me are not real, but he takes very good care of them, and gives them interesting names that only kids can come up with (“Salad the Dog” anybody?), and softly tells the stuffed puppies that he will still love them even if he gets a real one someday. He even wakes in the night to make sure they are all accounted for.
And then, of course, there’s John. Every time John is on his laptop lately, I peek over his shoulder, and there are all these sappy and adorable photos of full grown dogs, and little puppies in need of good homes. I’m pretty sure he got a good sense of where I am emotionally when he peeked over my shoulder this afternoon, and saw a screenful of fall boots that are also looking for a good home.
I get it. I understand the allure. Dogs are cute, and they look interested in what you are doing. And I know they are loyal and amazing companions. But, when I greet a new dog, I usually keep my hands to myself, look down at them and say, “hello there.” I’m not trying to be rude, but I’m not looking for anything long-term. And I’ve seen people talk to my kids that way, so I really don’t feel very bad about it.
Honestly, I’m trying to be responsible and realistic. In fact, I’m pretty sure I thought less about the consequences of having human children, than I have about adopting a dog. We keep weird schedules, and we’ve tried the “kid contract” where our eldest signed a non-legally binding piece of paper outlining our expectations regarding the much smaller pet rat. That did not go awesomely.
But then there are the big brown, yes, puppy dog eyes (John’s included) that are constantly trying to change my mind. And of course, societal pressures! Peer pressure! Corporations who want me to think that I’ll be a better patriot and mother if I get a dog! The Man! Big Brother! And probably, my actual big brother too. And even though I effectively ended the discussion this afternoon when I pointed out tall black zippered walking boots with juuust the right amount of slouch, I know the conversation is not over.
Because, I haven’t exactly said no. Hey wait, I have said no, and nobody seems to be taking that seriously. As it turns out, I am weak when it comes to puppy dog eyes. Especially the human kind.