Sunday, February 24, 2013


A while ago I read a post by Josh describing exactly, exactly, how I feel about dogs. I hate them. I don't hate YOU if you love them, but I hate them. I hate that people think they're people. They're not. They're dogs. And people are more important than dogs.

Which is why we got a dog on Saturday.

Let me give you a little history. Growing up we had dogs. First there was Kelly, the Irish Setter. Kelly was A Good Girl, and even saved my life once, no joke. I lived on a country road and one day, as a toddler, I was playing in our front yard while my dad sat against a tree, reading the newspaper. In a flash, a car came speeding down the road at the exact time I began toddling out into the road. My dad jumped up and sprinted towards me but there's no way he could have made it to me in time. Kelly, however, ran to me, knocked me down, sat on me, watched the car pass, and then got up. Kelly had a downfall, though, which was that she loved to chase cars, and that downfall caused her, well, downfall. In the form of a snowplow. I still remember the night.

But life moves on and more dogs are had. I think we had one named...something like Buddy, maybe. And a super hyper beagle named Snoopy (duh) but whom we called Puppers. And then the poorly-named Kuna (that was/is my nickname for my Aunt Karen, why would we give that name to a dog?). And, of course, Cody, who would sleep outside my bedroom door any night I was home alone as a teenager, and made me feel safe. Such a good dog, that Cody (or, when we were Being Funny, Toby).

Still, dogs are gross, and our dogs were mainly Outside Dogs. Outside Dogs are in a completely different category than Inside Dogs. I haven't met, as an adult, anyone who has an Outside Dog, which may be because I live within city limits as opposed to the middle of nowhere. Outside Dogs can come inside maybe sometimes at night; definitely when it's cold. Inside Dogs tend to live like people, which, again, I can't stand. My husband grew up with Inside Dogs. So as a married person, the very first hurdle in, 'Should we have a dog?' lies in the notion that Darin and I have very different ideas of what it means to own a dog. I don't want dog hair all over everything. He doesn't care if the dog licks his face all day. It's an impasse and we haven't even bothered discussing it in years.

Back to Saturday.

My 11-year-old daughter loves animals, and that's cute. She also loves babies, but I'm not going to get her one of those. Since about her 10th birthday, though, she's been researching dogs. See, for years when my kids have asked me if we could get a dog, my answer has been, "I won't even consider it until we're done with diapers," which was my special way of delaying breaking their hearts. We've been done with diapers for quite a while, and my answer has been a solid, "No, I don't like dogs, and who do you think will be the one taking care of it? ME, that's who," with an occasional, "If you can find a dog that doesn't poop, you've got a deal."

11YO, though, she has been considerate of my feelings in her research. "Mom, I'm looking for a breed that doesn't have a high-pitched bark because I don't want you to be bothered while I'm at school," and, "Mom, this dog doesn't shed, which will help with allergies AND cleaning." Not only that, she has saved almost every penny since that 10th birthday, more than enough to adopt a dog.

Still, though, knowledge of breeds and money saved was not enough to convince me.

So what did?

When I was in D.C., I was thinking about my daughter. She is a good girl. A very good girl. She does her best to choose the right and stay out of trouble. She's eager to help and thoughtful and responsible, so responsible -- maybe more responsible than anyone else in our family, her parents included. But to go along with her desire to do what is right, she has encountered some difficulties. For instance, she is a fiercely loyal friend, but, as is wont to happen, other girls her age (and, sadly older, up to age . . . let's see . . . how old am I?) sometimes do or say things that result in my daughter's feelings getting hurt, directly or indirectly. (Am I saying that my daughter never does anything that hurts anyone else? Of course not.) She then chooses to step away, if for no other reason than to take a break, or maybe think about if having said friend(s) is worth her energy. As an introverted sister sandwiched between two extroverted and extremely social sisters, I have watched as she questions herself, wonders if she has enough friends, wonders if she should have more people around, and even, in her darker days, wonders if she's good enough as she tallies up numbers of friends. It is absolutely heartbreaking.

And there I was, in D.C., and somewhere, at some point (the details escape me), the topic of dog ownership came up and it hit me:

My daughter wasn't asking for a dog. She was asking for a friend.

And that? I can do.


janemkinsel said...

i will bet that she will be a very responsible dog owner. I was up at 5:00 and you delivered!!

Dalene said...

I have an outside dog right her in town. It works.

When I was a teenager, I had lots of friends, but my dog was my best friend. I get that. I applaud that you were not resistant to your epiphany.

That said, I'm sorry. I am STILL processing our acquisition of a dog last fall. At least you had the good sense to get a dog that is not the size of a horse.


Kristina P. said...

You will get sucked it!! I grew up like you. Outdoor dogs. They often ran away or disappeared, and oh well!

Mr. T is my first dog as an adult. And I had no idea I would get so attached. Plus, he does speak 4 languages, and is a proficient butt sniffer.

Julie Marsh said...

I wish our girls knew each other. They sound a lot alike, except for the dog part.

I grew up with small dogs that had no odor, but I'm still not inclined to get one now. I simply don't get it either, and thankfully Kyle is a cat guy. (Cats aren't perfect, but they fit my lifestyle better than dogs.)

Vanessa said...

And yes this is why sometimes you say yes to a dog. Because some kiddos need one. I needed one growing up but didn't get one till the first day I was married.

Naomi said...

You're a good mum. And how happy does your girl look?!

Josh Bingham said...

Aw, thanks for the shout out! I wondered why suddenly a new comment popped up on that post today. (And I still hate dogs.)

Gerb said...

Goodness, this post made me cry because my just barely 12 year old is like your 11 year old and it really made me re-think my dislike for pets and why the death of our parakeet was so much more traumatic to her than anyone else.

Thanks for making me think. And good luck!

cari said...

I swore we would never get a dog also. So, what did we get a month ago? Yep, a dog. A Chipoo named Jeff. We got him to help our Emma get over her fear of animals. Miracle of miracles, it worked. I didn't like dogs either but I have to say, he's growing on me.

Maggie said...

Love these lines!

My daughter wasn't asking for a dog. She was asking for a friend.

You are such a good mom.

wendysue said...

Oh, that made my heart about burst. What a good Momma.

CKW said...

Emma deserves good things. She is such a good girl! My boys are thrilled, btw. Sam said last night that the best thing about our neighbor having a dog was that he could play with it, but didn't have to clean up the poop ;-) Thanks for taking one for the (neighborhood gang) team! She (he?) seems like a very sweet dog.

swampbaby said...

And that is why you are a great mom. I feel the same way about dogs that you do and I am pretty positive we will never own a dog.

Kacy Faulconer said...

Very nice post.

Emily said...

I believe I was having this conversation with you and related the story behind Coco--and how I finally gave in to owning a dog because my daughter needed a friend. Best decision ever.

Jen said...

Way to listen to your intuition. I will pray for no such thing to happen to me though because I am NOT an animal lover! Good to know I'm not the only one out there.

Carrot Jello said...

good mama

Debbie Cranberryfries said...

I totally thought you were dog sitting. My daughter (and kids in general) are BEGGING for a dog. I might have to consider this thought for a while before I leap though.
Like you we kept saying things to prolong the no. 'not until we have a yard'. Well we moved and have a yard and a fence. Hmm

Fantastic post!

Shelly said...

I think Buddy is perfect! Emma is so cute and kind. I am glad she was able to get her dog. She truly deserves to be happy. I think this is why I love dogs so much because they are loyal.