Raise your hand if you’re a proud member of the dog-mom club. Good for you. You deserve a “high five.” But not from me.
I’m part of the group suffering in silence, trying to weasel out of pet ownership.
Because dog pee on the wall-to-wall, beige carpet. Or the occasional (non-toddler) poop on the hardwood floors. Or the incessant barking when the kids are trying to nap. Or the, understandable, desire for affection when I just don’t have anything left to give (after trying to put the kids down to nap.)
I could go on.
And I have gone on to hang adopt-a-dog fliers. You might have seen them around town.
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Now, Vera can’t help the barking. She is, after all, part dachshund. And she doesn’t follow any of the rules in the dog-training bible, How to Get Your Dog to Do What You Want by Warren Eckstein. (She probably disapproves of his 1970s garb on the book cover.)
When we put her in the yard, she barks – a lot. Which means the neighbors hate us. With our last dogs (may they rest in peace), one neighbor said they were ruining his “quality of life.” Dramatic, much? Dogs, well, they bark.
I think the neighbor might be on to something now though. Cleaning up pee and poop, plus incessant barking, plus managing a full time job, two small people and a household can weigh a girl down.
Our pre-Vera dogs were best buds. We were glad they had each other when our boys were born, when we went into full ignoring-dogs-because-we-now-have-babies mode. They were good dogs and had done incredible things, like scaling Mount Mitchell, kayaking at the lake and eating birds. All before the babies came along. Then they had each other and didn’t really need us. Plus, they happily agreed to pee and poop outside per the contract they signed when we rescued them from the pound.
When they moved on to Jesus, we waited 8 months to adopt another dog. And read Dr. Seuss’s What Pet Should I Get? about 100x.
I really enjoyed those 8 months. No vet bills, no boarding-during-vacation bills, no dog-food bills.
I get it. A pet is a family member, not an expense. But when you’re in the midst of small children, a dog can feel like a nuisance. A very expensive nuisance.
At least Vera is, like, 3 years old (although who really knows with rescues, right?) Because I have one major rule when it comes to dogs: NEVER ADOPT A PUPPY.
I don’t care how cute baby dogs are. (And I should know, I grew up surrounded by them.) Puppies have sharp teeth and aren’t potty trained and chew up lots of things. And they really, REALLY like attention.
A mature dog is the way to go. As long as you test drive the thing first. Especially when you have small children. (Does the dog like small children? Will the dog eat small children? Does the dog want to dominate small children?)
Dog test-driving is my husband’s specialty. Vera won him over, and I trust his judgement. I jumped right back into the role of dog-mom.
The boys LOVE this dog. And she loves them. She tolerates the little one climbing on her. She joyfully sleeps in the older one’s bed. A boy and his dog – there really is something to that. Also, folks are so right when they say pets teach empathy and a sense of responsibility.
The other day, the 4-year-old brought me a cup filled with dog food: Mommy, I can’t find Vera’s bowl.
That’s because I hid it. Because she keeps vomiting. Or, as my son describes it, “she gets sick out of her mouth.” From eating tiny plastic dinosaurs? From children feeding her grapes? From catching the stomach bug from one of us? Who knows, I just don’t want to deal with the aftermath. So vomit is my new, favorite excuse for trying to un-adopt the dog. Clearly, I’m a heartless monster.
I tell my kid to go get another bowl to put her “crunchies” in. He’s taking responsibility and feeding the dog – at FOUR! How can I un-adopt the dog that inspires him to take such action?
Another plus (or minus, depending on my mood) is that the dog is affectionate. She
paws for attention and nuzzles up onto the laps of the boys. Super sweet.
She used to also wag her tail.
For about the first 6 weeks we had her, she wagged it maniacally. Til she literally whacked it to death. I’m talking my boys, my clothes, my kitchen cabinets turned into a Picasso painting every time we came home and she greeted us at the door. She absentmindedly whacked her tail against the wall til it turned into a blood-fountain. Then she’d keep on whacking it while red splotches flew onto all the things. Never phased her.
No, I’m not kidding. When your kid is freaking out because he has dog blood-splatter on his head for the fifth time that day, you take action. $500 later, the dog got a new tail. Kudos to our vet, she docked that thing like a champ.
This was a nice reminder that pets are expensive. As if I’d forgotten during those dog-free, 8 months.
Today, a family inquired about adopting her.
Is this beauty still looking for love? (Stab me in the heart.) We have a 2-year-old pit mix that is looking for a playmate. We also have a senior 13-year-old German, short-haired pointer and a 5-year-old runt Doberman that thinks she’s 2. I’m in total love with our pit bull baby, and Vera feels like she could be a total fit with our pack…Lemme know something. XOXOXO.
How I do think Vera would love a dog buddy. And you might have noticed I’ve spent this post complaining a bit.
But you know how it goes. When you finally decide to break up with your boyfriend and suddenly some other chick has her eye on him, you’re, like, “Back off, bee-ach, he is MINE.” This kinda feels like that. The dog is now a hot commodity. And I want a piece! Oh, wait, she’s my dog. I’ve already got all her pieces (minus some tail.)
So I’ve been reflecting on things lately, and I’ve gained new perspective.
The peeing-in-the-house only happens when you try to pet her. So we don’t bother petting her anymore. Besides, if she really wants affection, she’ll jump into my lap.
The pooping-on-the-floor seems to be an anomaly (knock on hardwood.) Those gifts materialized during the week we had some work done on the house. Strange men were wandering around her turf. It was her lovely way of protesting the intrusion. Since she wasn’t allowed to bite them.
The incessant-barking? Um, I think it’s just in her genes. But the occasional walk would give her a chance to meet the neighbors and win them over.
Hello! This is my chance to un-adopt the dog! How can I pass this up? This woman is all XOXOXO.
I decide to poll the boys. Who are completely biased towards the dog. Which kinda means that I am, too. Otherwise, I’d hand Vera over and tell them she got a mysterious illness and has to go stay with the vet for forever.
I tell the boys that another family wants Vera to come live with them, that they have a couple dogs already so Vera will have lots of friends to play with.
Me: What do you think of that?
The boys: Ok.
Excuse me, what? I’m not sure you understand, sons. Someone is going to TAKE AWAY your dog. (Let’s ignore the fact that maybe I’m the “someone.”)
So I repeat myself.
This time one of them adds, “Then we’ll get a new dog.”
But then there’s this:
Small child: Mommy, does everybody die?
Me: Yep, eventually everybody dies. We get old and tired and it’s time to go. (If we’re lucky enough to live that long.)
Small child: Mommy, I’m never gonna die. After you and Daddy die, I’m gonna still be here. With Vera.
That settles it. How can I un-adopt the dog when he loves her so much he wants to live with her forever?
Fine, the dog stays.
Besides, she just learned how to “high five.” So I guess that means I’m an official member of the dog-mom club after all.
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This comment from my friend Matt, who has met the dog, is cracking me up.
I read this post and the bloody dog tail made me laugh in the most macabre way. Not a huge fan of the new dog. I felt like she was a really small, angry pimp wildly swinging any minute between being affectionate and eating my face.
“Nah, baby, it’s cool. Why don’t you come over here and pet me a little bit? Yeah, that’s nice. That’s real nice. Ah, yeah, that’s the…wait a minute! Did I say stop? DID I SAY STOP?”