You know those people who say they love other people’s kids but want none of their own?
Yeah, that’s me with dogs.
I’ve never understood the dog/owner relationship. I mean, some folks liken them to their own children, lavishing them with apparel, toys, food and other items.
Personally, I’ve never had the urge to own a pet. Well, I had a pair of goldfish in college, which I named Ida and Upton (after the famous muckracker journalists, Ida Tarbell and Upton Sinclair). But tragically, they only lived about a year with my caretaking, or lack thereof.
So when my mother approached me about watching their family dog — a large chocolate lab named “Nutmeg” — while she and my family were on vacation, you can imagine my reaction. And yet, I got roped into it anyway.
On a regular day, Nutmeg, who is about 80 years old in dog years, only moves for three things: to eat, to go to the bathroom and to move closer to a petting hand. She is a dog who enjoys her beauty sleep and being loved on, which actually has worked out pretty well for us, as our children have four little hands that love to touch her every chance they get.
This week marks the end of our two weeks worth of dog-sitting, and am I ever so excited about getting back to our normal, pooch-free lives.
I certainly will not miss the mounds of brown fur I’ve been ferociously trying to tackle daily with our vacuum, or the ticks she’s been tracking in from outside.
I will not miss her extreme phobia of thunderstorms — jumping up onto the bed, hyperventilating like a marathon runner and making a small swimming pool of saliva on our carpet floor. Nor will I be nostalgic for the first night she stayed at our house and it stormed ... it took my husband literally laying on top of her to calm her down, while glaring at me and saying, “We are never getting a dog.”
I will not miss her “dog” smell, which has been growing more extreme with each day that passes.
But as much as it pains me to admit it, there are some things I will miss. I’ll miss the look on our sons’ faces when they love on her and giggle from the God-awful gas she passes. I’ll miss having a furry friend around who will listen when I talk, even if it’s about the most nonsensical subject. And I will miss the way she moves her nose closer to my hand when she wants to be affectionate.
Maybe someday we will get a dog. I know that certainly would please our oldest son, Alex, 4, with whom I recently shared the following conversation:
“Mom, why can’t we have a dog?” he asked me several weeks ago. We were reading a bedtime story about fire trucks, and he had spotted a friendly looking dalmatian perched atop one of the vehicles in the book.
“Well, I mean, we have you and Asher, and that’s enough living things for us to take care of right now,” I replied.
He looked back at the dog in the book, pondering the thought.
“If we didn’t have Asher, then could we get a dog?” he asked.
I fought back laughter, realizing how serious he was.
“Buddy, Ash will always be in our family, just like you will always be in our family,” I said, smiling.
He looked down, disappointed.
“Maybe someday we can get a dog,” I said, “when you’re old enough to help take care of it.”
“Or a cat?” he asked.
“Oh no. Mommy is very allergic to cats, so we couldn’t ever have a cat,” I said.
“Well, I’m allergic to skunks,” he replied matter-of-factly.
Thank God for that, I thought.
Meagan Patton-Paulson is Herald Connections Editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org