Sophie wants a dog. In the worst way.
She has been diligently asking for one for the past year or so. First we told her to wait 'til we moved, then we'd consider it. And now...well, now that we're settled, we're saying she needs to be a little older, a bit more mature before she takes on a responsibility of this magnitude. She keeps pressing us on when. "When will I be older to get a dog, mama?" Usually we can distract her. ("Look! I hear a firetruck!") But it's getting harder and harder to divert her attention to non-pet subjects. Maybe it's because every. stinkin'.person. in our neighborhood seems to have a dog. And they keep parading them by the house, all cute and tail-waggy.
Yesterday she was out in the yard, cuddling a roly poly and an earthworm. Calling them her best friends. Promising to love them both forever. Until the roly poly decided to play dead. Or maybe, whoops, he's not moving. And he seems to be missing a midsection.
She then focused her care and affections on the earthworm, asking for a blanket to protect him from the chill of the evening. Perhaps a glass of water to quench his thirst, and something to nibble on, so he wouldn't be hungry. ...Yep. It was about that time, give or take two minutes, that the earthworm bit it. He died a good death, I guess. Floating sunny-side-up in a Big Bird bowl beside a piece of cracker.
Here's the deal. Neither Russ nor I have ever really been gung-ho Pet People.
(Shush, Auntie Em! Your commentary privileges on this subject have been revoked.)
We both had pets growing up. Or pet (singular). But as adults we've shied away from the idea of pet ownership.
For me, there was Noodle (an English Sheppard I had from the age of two 'til I was fourteen). She was a good dog. Faithful. Obedient. Sweet. Big personality. I liked knowing she was there when I wanted to play with her. There, outside. She had her stomping grounds - wallowing happily in the flower beds when mom wasn't looking, chasing the cows in the pasture and eating poo, curled up in a cozy ball on the front porch under the swing. Likewise, I had my comfy hangout places INside the house. Along with allergies and a severe disliking for all things hairy on my clothes and the furniture. Inside pets were as foreign a concept to me as inviting a pack of squirrels and armadillos to come build their nest in our living room. People were inside. Pets were out. And never the 'tween shall meet.
Russ grew up with lots of animals. LOTS. 'O. ANIMALS. Dogs and cats everywhere. There was always a huge entourage that would come romping up to greet anyone who pulled up to the house. And another pack (hunting dogs, maybe?) that hung out on the porch. Lazy, like big, slobbering carpets. But again, all of them lived outside. Only after he went to college, did his mom turn into a Pets Inside Person. Now, there's a happy menagerie of yippy rat-dog chihuahuas inside the house, ready to pee themselves with glee whenever a visitor walks in the door. They jump up and pile on the couch with you and sleep dreamily in the bed beside you. I won't pretend to understand why that's enjoyable, but I know I'm in the minority. Lots of people think it's awesome! His mom does. And her house, her crazy little zoo.
Even now, with my own house and rules, I can't imagine diverting from the way I was raised. I just don't know how to flip the switch to become a cohabitate-with-animals kind of person. As much as I might like to, the thought actually kind of gives me the heebie-jeebies. (Eck, the hair!) Russell, being the easy-going person that he is, I think could go either way. Pets, no pets. Inside, outside. I don't think having a pet inside would totally wonkify his world, if I wanted one. But based on previous conversations, I know he prefers a pet-free house. The absence of pet odor being a plus high on his list. He's a clean gent, my husband.
I guess we're just missing that part of our brains. Never have we had a hankering to knit a pet a sweater, stroll it around the neighborhood, wrap it tightly in a blanket and cuddle with it on the couch, or refer to it as our "baby" or "other child". (Not that there's anything wrong with that, Jerry!) And, now as adults, we kind of like the idea of keeping our relatively small, relatively well-manicured backyard poop and hole-free.
Add to that the fact that I sneeze my brains out on the floor and sprint for the Benadryl if a cat so much as looks at me, much less rubs up against me. And there you have it:
A whole gob of reasons why nary a pet can be found in this family unit.
A fact which equals one sad little three-year old. One who stands with her nose smooshed to the window and watches all the dogs on leashes trotting perkily by. One who begs the owner at the park to pat the dog on the leash. Always grinning from ear to ear and saying afterwards, "You're a nice dog! Can I get one, please, Mama?" (She runs the two sentences together, like one thought.)
And that's the part that makes me sad. That's the part that makes me want to consider trying to become a Pet Person.
Lately the requests to add to our threesome have included: a hamster, a turtle, a fish, an iguana, a bird, and a snake.
No, no, no, no, no, and just kill me now, no friggin' WAY!
I know. We're huge killjoys.
BUT...If I were to agree to a pet, I would want it to be a dog. At least a dog doesn't eat its young, spread disease, live in nasty water with floaties in it, do that freaky something-large-is-stuck-in-my-throat maneuver with it's tongue and neck, scratch or peck anyone's eyes out, or scare the holy fright night out of me when it escapes its cage and coils up on the living room rug.
Nor does it walk through its poo and then jump up on the dining room table. Sorry, all 'ye cat lovers out there, but admit it, aren't they snobby little toots? I'm of the opinion that a pet should run to the door and excitedly greet you like a long-lost friend. Not look down their noses, like, "Well, aren't YOU disgusting!" as you clean out their litter box. And, I mean, seriously, tell me another animal on the planet who would be allowed to eat that sticky, glumpy cat chow goop out of a Waterford crystal goblet, like some felines I know.
So, dogs? That's, I guess, where we land in this little discussion. Anybody got any suggestions for making happy two non-pet-lovin' parents and one pet-fanatic little girl? Is there such a thing as a non-shedding, non-chewing or hole digging, easily trainable, mellow (to an "awesome weed, duuuude!" degree), outside-loving, child-friendly, allergy-friendly, almost-human dog with shockingly good breath, who will pick up its own poo?
Not that I'm picky or anything.
Edited to add: I just came across this on one of my favorite blog sites. Scott has some dog suggestions. Dear sweet Moses! I about chunked up my Egg Mcmuffin.