On Not Having a Dog

DiwaliOn Monday we were talking about how to have a clean kitchen. Mama Em made an excellent point about how her dog helps with clean-up by eating everything the baby drops on the floor.

For more than ten years James and I have been talking about getting a dog.

James: They’re a lot of work.

Me: A dog protects you. I’d feel safer with a dog.

James: Especially Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Did you know they were bred to be lion hunters in Africa?

Me: You have to pick up the poop …

James: And they shed …

Before children we’d talk about having a dog in excited, intimate tones, the way we planned our ultra eco house and our summers in Europe.

Our house is a 1940s ranch with plastic floors and plastic carpets, peeling paint, and low ceilings. The one July we squatted at a friend’s crumbling, spider-ridden house in the center of France when the two oldest girls were still toddlers was one of the loneliest four weeks of my life.

And except for the stray we nursed back to health in Niger, we’ve never had a dog.

But lately–maybe because the baby, our last baby, just turned one–I’ve been pining for a dog.

James: I’m allergic to most breeds.

Me: Poodles don’t shed. They’re hypoallergenic.

James: Hypoallergenic is an advertising term. Our life is so overwhelming as it is. We can’t stay on top of the simplest things …

Me: A dog could lick up spills…

Maybe getting a dog is like having a baby. You can talk it over forever, fret over why it’s a good or bad idea, wonder if you’re really ready, and stress about the timing, but ultimately the desire to have one comes from a place within you that is anything but rational.

Not now but maybe someday? Maybe soon?

What do you think about having a dog? In your house, do you manage to juggle taking care of pets and children?


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