Whew. This seems like a big decision to me. And, it is! I mean, I understand that owning a pet is a serious commitment that lasts years and years and requires attention, money, and energy...none of which I have a superfluous amount of these days. But, I also have a new, big, fenced-in yard and two feisty children who would dote on a new creature to play with in their outdoor adventures.
We currently have two indoor cats, though I have never considered our family exclusively "cat people". It's just that we've lived in apartments forever, so the dog issue has been off the table until now. And, as I peruse the local shelter websites and the photos of dogs of all kinds...well, there's no denying why they call it "puppy dog eyes" and I start to feel my heart strings tug and can hear Sarah MacLaughlin singing in the back of my head.
Maybe I'm a sucker for cute puppies. Maybe I'm trying to stave off baby fever. Maybe I'm trying to justify this new concept of yard-ownership with giving it a full-time resident. Or, maybe I just like the idea of giving my girls exposure to the friendship, responsibility, and life-cycle of what it means to care for another. As you can see, there is most likely some dog somewhere inevitably waiting to become a Pardy.
But, here's something else for us all to ponder...
As I've asked around to friends, family, strangers, shelter-owners, etc. for their insight and advice for dog ownership, one common sentiment has been expressed again and again and again: It's a lot of work.
My initial thought is "Um, you know I keep two humans alive, right?" Sure, I know that kids are different from dogs. And, I'm not insulted by the remark at all. As condescending as it may sound, I totally understand that pet owners genuinely want to convey the importance of the commitment being made, and that real life with a dog looks differently than the Pedigree dog food commercials make it out to be.
The "lots of work" comment has been followed up by several pieces of [albeit, very welcome] advice regarding what kind of dog to get. I want this information. I've asked for it, and I am interested in continuing to research different breeds/mixes and meet a variety of dogs before landing on a fit for our family. However, it made me laugh out loud when I considered this notion concerning a human baby.
What if I had asked "We're thinking about having another baby - parents, weigh in! What do you think?" If you consider the same depth of concern regarding the answers I might get, it might look something like this:
Another baby would be cute, but be sure you get one that sleeps through the night!
Yes - but, get one already potty trained.
Don't do it! They are so much work and you already have a full plate.
What if it bites your children? That's hard to discipline.
What if it grows up to be ugly?
What if it becomes sick later and needs extensive care or attention?
Be sure you don't get one that talks too much.
Remember, the bigger the baby, the bigger the poop.
What will you do with it if you want to take a vacation?
What if your girls don't like the new baby?
All valid considerations! Ha. But no one would EVER tell me those things regarding a baby. And, as we all know, not all pregnancies are considered this much prior to their arrival. Let's face it, surprises do happen! Can you imagine if pet ownership happened that way? What if you got a letter in the mail today that said:
Congratulations! You've been selected to get a new dog in 6 months! Get ready now - you will need food, water, and many veterinary bills to prepare for. You can register at PetSmart to be sure you get the supplies you need. There's no telling if this is a good dog or not, but you will definitely be stuck with it for a very long time. It might keep you up at night, but it will probably love you very much. Good luck!
It's a strange world we live in. It's a luxury for us to even get to consider rescuing a dog and calling it our own. Maybe we will get one soon and it will be a terrible fit. Maybe we will wait and get one later and it will be a perfect match. Or maybe, we'll just do the best we can and figure it out as we go and keep asking for advice and prayer along the way!
One thing is for certain...I'm glad and thankful I didn't get this much input when it came to picking out my kids. [Thanks, God!] Yes, I would rather have a child who sleeps every night through the night and always remembers to thank me when I feed her. But, then, she wouldn't be who she is without her spunky spontaneity and charisma for sass.
I have a feeling that if/when we get a dog, it will imperfectly fit into our imperfect family just fine.
*If you have dog advice, please feel free to weigh in! Just because we're crazy doesn't mean we're ignorant.