To tell you the truth, I had never really wanted a dog.
I was much more of a cat person, despite growing up with a beagle in my early years. Cats were more independent, didn’t “need” me, per se, and almost every cat I interacted with had a very positive “my space and your space” ratio, and if I needed more or less time with said cats, they would accommodate for the most part.
Cats are relatively low-key, and the only real horrible byproducts were their feces and their fur. The urine in particular is a real affront to the senses, and to this day I’m pretty sure my dad smells the ghost trails of cat piss coursing throughout my parents’ house.
So fast forward. My wife and I are getting pet fever, and we’re both leaning more in the cat direction, but somehow I’m only just discovering that I’m allergic. Not crazy allergic, but enough to where I don’t want to spend my life with red eyes and a runny nose, downing Claritin like Tic-Tacs. After a weepy/snotty day at a kitty cafe, we turned our focus toward a dog.
The stars aligned through a series of social media entanglements, and right around the holidays, we got a dog, just in time for him to experience some Illinois snow. We drove the two hours home from picking him up, fascinated with the little guy and instantly enamored. The first few hours spent in the house, however, proved one very important thing:
Despite all the preparation and research in the world, we had no fucking idea what we were doing.
A tiny dog, his first reaction to our home was to smell every surface, and once he had sniffed to his satisfaction, he shat on the carpet and peed on a recliner. Great start. When we went to bed, our first goal was to follow the suggestions of experts and put him in the bathroom to sleep. That lasted all of maybe 3 minutes because I am a complete pushover.
Listening to a cute little dog barking in terror (even though he’s perfectly fine) was simply too much for me, and after a failed attempt to sleep in bed (he kept falling off), we decided to spend the night on the floor. It was as comfortable as it sounded.
It’s been almost 3 months since he’s come home with us, and it has definitely been frustrating: He eats his own poop from time to time, poops inside, has some days where he simply will not listen to my wife, occasional growls/barks that aren’t to our liking, and any number of other tiny things that have us in a tizzy.
But on the other side of the coin is something about the dog ownership experience that you can’t really understand until you do it, and that’s bond with an animal who loves you unconditionally. I can be mad as a pistol over our pooch misbehaving, but then he’ll curl up in my lap and make me feel like I’m the best person in the world. He’s SO, SO excited when we come home, and he hops like mad to welcome us back to his little world. Nothing he does is malicious or to make us upset. He’s just him, and only ever wants to play, cuddle, be held, eat (especially eat), and sleep, preferably immediately near us.
This adoration from our pup has in turn made me increasingly sensitive to the actions of those who abuse/hurt/kill their pets. The depth of my disgust has merged with an unspeakable fury, baffled that anyone could hurt a pet. Recently reading the troubling (and excellent) American Psycho novel by Bret Easton Ellis, there is one scene in particular that involves the graphic wounding of a dog. I had to put the book down for a minute to let the upset wane a bit, something I rarely ever do.
In a couple of hours I’ll be headed home, and no doubt we’ll open the garage door and our little pupper will be hopping-glad to see us, excited as all getout knowing we’re home. He’ll get his dinner and a big ol’ pile of cuddles before we head out to his lessons (which are as much ours as his). He’ll get put to bed in his corner of our bedroom, but no doubt at 2-4AM or so one of us will wake up to go to the bathroom and the dog will get an informal invitation to join us in bed.
He’ll curl up in his tiny fluffy donut shape, nestled between us, snuff out a few sleepy snuffs, and sleep the best and deepest sleep, so perfect in his happiness that no human slumber could ever compare. Cute little fucker.