Apparently, I didn’t consider juggling two young boys, community work, writing projects, and keeping my house (sort of) clean to be enough of a challenge. To further complicate our already stressful lives, my husband and I agreed to add a brand new member to the family.
He’s loud, hairy, stinky, and he keeps peeing on my floor. He gnaws on everything and gets excited by the tiniest things. You’re home! It’s Tuesday! Oh, look—a fly!
His name is Lemon, and he’s man’s best friend. He’s also a real pain in the ass.
Get a puppy, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
Dogs are expensive
I don’t want to do the math, but let’s just say that I probably could’ve flown from Chicago to San Francisco and back with the money I’ve spent so far on this four-legged bark machine.
It starts off reasonably enough with the adoption fee—which covers shots, microchipping, and neutering—but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Next thing I know, Amazon packages are showing up on my doorstep every day. Crates, toys, food, treats, dog shampoo, leash, collar, tag… it’s like preparing for a human baby all over again.
Except there’s no fresh baby smell. Instead, I get an aromatic blend of dirt, grass, and dog breath blasted directly into my face. The scent has already seeped into the fibers of the couch, and I fear wafts of dog smell stick to my clothes and follow me everywhere I go. Even Febreeze has its limits.
Who doesn’t love dogs?
I have fond memories of (almost) all the pets I lived with growing up. Over the years, we had dogs, a cat, bunnies, fish, birds, and a guinea pig.
The canines were gentle mutts who each possessed a charming blend of patience and friendliness, which was a good thing since I often put their good nature to the test. For example, as a toddler, I used to sprawl out over our black and white lab/shepherd mix for a quick nap, my arms and legs dangling off the sides of her warm, snuggly body. As I grew older (and bigger), I settled for just using her tummy as a pillow for my head while I read a book or watched TV.
My cat—bless her little heart—begrudgingly put up with most of the “games” I tried to play with her, even when they made her miserable. There were times when I took things too far, and that’s why I live with a collection of scratch-shaped scars on my forearms. I loved her dearly. I could usually find her curled up on my dad’s lap, sleeping peacefully. He doesn’t care much for cats, so naturally she liked him best.
We had bunnies for a short while too. Trust me: you do not want bunnies. “But they’re so cute!” you think. Wrong! Never do this.
Dogs, cats, and bunnies were just some of the animals at my childhood house. There were also fish (boring!), birds (usually mean ones!), and a guinea pig named Mister Mistoffelees, after the magical feline from the musical “CATS.”
Kids love dogs
The thing about pets is that typically the hard labor involved with feeding, bathing, brushing, and cleaning up after them falls to the parents, while the kids just get to have fun. Especially when said children are very young and would feed their dog treats all day long for the pure entertainment value.
But now I’m the parent.
My four year old loves to “help” me with everything around the house, and feeding the puppy is at the top of his list. This assistance means that although I don’t have to scoop the kibble out of the container and transfer it to the dog bowl, I do get the privilege of cleaning up the pieces that fall to the ground and bounce under Lemon’s feeding station.
I’m so lucky.
What were we thinking?
Despite the dog’s annoying behavior and neediness, Lemon loves the kids, and they love him right back. Earlier today, I caught them sitting with him in the grass, taking turns hugging him, his jet black fur shining in the summer sunlight.
And then he tried to nip at their legs with his sharp-as-knives puppy teeth.
Awhile later, this two-kids-and-a-dog squad chased each other adorably in circles around a tree, the kids squealing with laughter.
Once back inside the house, Lemon wandered off silently. When I found him, his stance was strange and his expression was focused. And then he pooped on my dining room rug.
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