February 16, 2014
We got a dog. A puppy to be exact. Not a teeny tiny puppy. Not the pee all over the house kind of puppy, but the occasional pee and poop in the house kind of puppy. I have always considered myself a cat person, and I will admit it, I used to have some disdain for dogs and dog people. In my mind, they wanted the submissive instant love of a dog. The undying devotion. The creature that would only see them as good, no matter how badly they behaved. And to me that was a cop-out. Life is not like that! Cats to me were more self-contained and dignified. You usually had to work to get their attention and affection. That felt more honest and real to me. Part of me felt obliged to choose the harder path (the German part?), even though in ways cats are easier because you can ignore them and that doesn’t really work with most dogs.
Since our cat died about 8 years ago, I steadfastly said, No more pets! I didn’t want another creature with a shorter life expectancy than me. And I felt that two boys and a husband were more than enough to fill my plate. And I wanted freedom. But over the past year, I have started to wonder about adding a pet to the family. My kids (16 & 12) are a lot less demanding and I can feel more room in my life. I began spending a lot of time thinking about the idea of pets. What are people looking for when they get a pet? I didn’t want to fall to my kids’ pleadings alone. They have always said they wanted a pet, but I knew they weren’t ready to truly be part of that until recently. Being the mother and generally the holder-together-of-all-things-emotional, I knew I needed to wrap my head around the idea of a pet before going forward. I unofficially, and party unconsciously, began a year of research.
The first thing that struck me when I talked with many people about their pets was what a pain they were. Our friends cat who loves to eat wool (especially cashmere), another friend’s dog who is scared of men and pees inside sometimes, another cat that lost all the fur around its butt (apparently quite a site to behold) and has feline HIV, as well as the cost of hiring dog walkers and finding suitable places to board said pet when you go away. And then there is the shit-factor. Call me prissy, but whether it’s having to pick dog shit up outside, or scoop it out of a litter box, I am not a fan. Add to all that the intrinsic needs of another creature. I am such an empath, that it literally causes me distress not meeting the needs (or perceived needs) of others. In short, why get a needy pet???
I kept coming to the same conclusion. Keep life simple and clean. Don’t complicate things. But the thought kept coming back and kept coming back, and I finally started to look more closely at what is/could be positive about having a pet…and even the inner knowledge that this time a dog (a dog!) might be the right choice. Over time I have come to see the value of that undying, no-questions-asked love. I know it has the potential to bring out the best in people…the humanity, ironically. To be met with undying devotion is an opportunity to step up, and I wanted that for my kids and in the vibe in our house in general. As they get older and in some ways more self-absorbed (natural!), I wanted this for them. Someone to take care of. And for my husband, I told him he deserved someone who loved him unconditionally. And I really meant it. Of course, I love him unconditionally on a deep and important level. But if he leaves his underwear on the floor, I am not going to lick his face. If he is late to pick up the kids, I am not going to wag my tail when he gets home. I am too cat-like to do that.
After a false start and some drama (not going in to that here), we took the plunge. We met Fugee (then JoJo) at a Rocket Dog Rescue event in December. She had been turned in by two people…probably drug addicts who realized they couldn’t care for her. We all agreed she was the one and took her home the same day. As my father-in-law would say, “She landed her ass in the butter.” She now has four people who love her and dote on her. Here are just a few of the moments that make me happy we took the plunge.
- All agreeing on a name. From The Fugees (a music group that chose the name from “refugee”).
- Watching my older son take care of Fugee after she got spayed. He felt so bad about putting the cone on her head at night so she wouldn’t lick the wound, but he did it because he knew it was necessary.
- Having my younger son put Fugee into his afternoon schedule (yes, he creates one every day) each day after school.
- Seeing both boys have more fun together with Fugee as the thing that unites them.
- Witnessing my husband’s pure delight at having this creature love him and loving her back.
- Doing puppy training as a family. Not easy, but so interesting to see how we all react and what comes naturally or not to each of us (possibly another blog post!).
- Knowing that I listened to my gut and let it win this time.
- Focusing on the good and not the poop I had to pick up on the floor this morning because it is raining and somebody doesn’t like rain!