In the past, I often assumed that childless couples who bought a dog (or a cat) were feeling the need to care for some-thing, but were not quite "ready" to have children. I thought it would be much easier to care for a dog than a child.
I was totally wrong.
Well, maybe not about the former assumption, but the latter assumption was completely unfounded. I learned my lesson yesterday.
I offered to take my friend's new dog for a run. I stuffed blankets and my two little boys into a running stroller, hooked the leash onto my handlebar, and took off.
Well, I should rephrase, the dog, Hope, had already taken off. She had spotted another dog. She was pulling the stroller and me toward the little dog - at a neck-breaking pace. I was leaning almost completely backwards trying to hold the stroller, and her, back, trying to avoid yelling (my two boys were asleep in the stroller), as well as trying to look as normal as possible.
Then Hope spotted some ducks. Then, another dog. Then, a-nother dog. I have never run that 2.4 mile loop so quickly. Hope never even ran, she was walking briskly the entire time, pulling me and the stroller with all her might. I felt like I had been sprinting after two loops, almost 5 miles, and could hardly wait to get to my car.
During our adventure, I thought about why I am not "ready" to own a dog - and, honestly, may never be.
1. I am a "dog person." I believe, totally, that the dog is the same as a person and so must be treated as such. I think this is genetic. I cannot explain why I feel this way. I would never be able to leave the dog home alone. I would never be able to let the dog stay outside alone, without me entertaining it. I would constantly be wondering if the dog felt neglected and bored, or happy and content.
2. If I owned a dog, I would put the dog's needs before my own, my husband's, and even my children's needs. This is because the dog would never be able to talk to me and therefore would forever stay in the pre-talking toddler stage. This stage frustrates me beyond description and therefore envelops me, including my every thought and concern. I'm pretty sure I currently spend at least 60% of my daily total energy expenditure on my 18-month old, (who, hallelujah, just this last week started saying lots of words).
3. Owning a dog dictates a lot of self discipline, and here is the big lesson of the day, even more than having a child, (I decided). I can let my kids disappear into the tv on movie night, or on random days when I need to write a grant or something, but one cannot forget to put a dog out, or take the dog for a walk, or forget to feed the dog, or not clean up after the dog, or relax while the dog plays on the playground equipment (one must continue to walk or the dog will get bored). Wow, I'm getting nervous just writing about it. On the other hand, kids grow up. They learn to talk. They go to school. They even learn to do chores. They learn to wear shoes, and to take their muddy shoes off before walking in the house. They quickly become completely in charge of their own bathroom issues. They learn how to open the fridge and find snacks for themselves. Whew! The latter scenario sounds so breezy, huh?
My husband and two of our children desperately want a dog, or two. I will have to explain my above reasoning in support of having friends with a dog that we can offer to take running every once in a while (or, who will take us running), rather than owning our own.