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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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Tags: dog, dogs, having pets, house pets, juggling pets and children, on not having a dog, pets, taking care of a baby, taking care of a dog

Comments (16)

Jennifer, can you tell us about the stray you nursed back to health in Niger? (when you get a minute or two, of course) That sounds like a wonderful story! Can you tell I'm a dog lover?
We love our dog! And can't imagine life without him. But he's getting old, and we've made the difficult decision we won't get another. This is because dogs are a lot of work, and they tie you to home and make it harder to travel, plus there's dog hair everywhere, not just on the dog. Vet bills are also overwhelming.
I cannot believe how much I love my dogs. I LOVE my dogs. They are funny and sweet and offer constant opportunities for my guys to read nonverbal signals and be responsible (ha! they do nothing!) and feel genuine, unconditional affection on the days when I cannot muster it. They are work, but totally totally worth it.
I'm not saying that everyone should get a dog. But for me...they've changed me. My dogs have taught me to love people better, because they love so well. Don't get me started on how much better the world would be if we were more like dogs. No games. No pretense. No playing hard to get. No grudges. Just that face waiting at the window when you return, and a tail wagging so hard that the whole body wiggles. Also I'm allergic but have no problem with my schnoodle or the long-haired mutt we rescued. I think for me the key is not to have a short-haired dog. Also the long-haired dogs don't shed. (at least mine don't.)
I cannot imagine life without dogs. Yes, they shed. Yes, the veterinary bills can be expensive at times. Yes, it has limited our travel. Yes, yes, yes. And still, they are the most amazing creatures I know. Many times, they are better people than people ever will be. There is research(I'd have to dig around to find it) that shows what kids (particularly boys) learn from having a dog in the home. And, your hubby is right ... the "hypoallergenic" thing is a bit of a crock. However, not all dogs carry the same allergens and some truly do not shed (but that means they require serious, regular grooming). This is my favorite quote from a piece I wrote on the topic: And, your partner may not be allergic to all dogs because each one may carry just two or three of 20 possible allergens. "With cats, it’s the opposite," Meadows says. "Your lions, your tigers, your kitty cats, all carry the same allergen." And, for the record, I am technically allergic to dogs and cats (allergy tests as a kid confirm that), but I live with them anyway. While I am a HUGE proponent of dogs in the family, I also do not think it's a great idea if anyone in the house is really opposed to the idea. It isn't fair to the dog, and far to many of them end up in shelters because of family situations. Unlike kids, you can give dogs "back," and many people do. .-= Roxanne´s last blog ..Dog Recharging Station =-.
i love dogs too and used to bring home stray dogs. but guess who always ended up taking care of them? my mom.
my husband had never had a dog ... my family had a mutt .. and then pup of mutt, when i was a young teen .... i was never really a dog person .... but i hate cats ... of course, my husband loves cats, grew up with cats .... so ... my twins, at four, asked for a puppy .... instead, we gave them a baby sister .... that baby, once she could talk, asked for a puppy ... we strongly considered another baby ... but went with the puppy ... a hypo allergenic, non shedding puppy .... that dog is the most popular person in our family ... she did all those things for us that dogs are supposed to do ... she taught my children patience, compassion and responsibility ... she cuddles us, she loves us, she makes us laugh, she got me exercising regularly, she keeps my floors spotless .... my dog rocks .... you should get one too .... .-= elizabeth´s last blog ..go! =-.
I love dogs; I've had them all my life. BUT I will say this - unless you are 100 percent committed, don't do it. They are a LOT of work and can be a huge expense. When they get old they need a lot of care.I know, I'm dealing with a 13-year old dog who is on lots of medication and has amassed huge vet bills over the past few year. On the other hand, if you are committed and can't imagine life without one, the work and expense will not matter as much. Hope you make the right decision, whatever it turns out to be. .-= sheryl´s last blog ..Nothing Routine About Transitions =-.
I love dogs and I have always had a dog around since my mother loves animals. I will have to agree with your husband on this one, don't get a dog. You or your husband will have to take care of the dog and since he isn't to fond of the idea of a pet I don't think he will be crazy about all the extra work. It doesn't mean you won't ever have a dog but everyone in the house who will have to care for dog should be on board 100%.
I still miss Charlie, the Australian Shepherd we got from the pound and had for ten years. He made us a much more fun family. He got us all out walking, and often running. The kids took good care of him, feeding him and walking him, and he snuggled up to everybody. Because we agreed on it beforehand, they definitely bought in to the responsibility. We decided not to get another one, because we travel so much now. Boo Hoo.
Why not get a cat? Much less work, kids like them too, and they are very decorative! You can still go on small vacations if someone you know will come over and feed it for you (can't happen with a dog) and a cat can litter train in one try! So you get to clean up the (small) poops at your convenience. Also, I have 3 cats but not nearly as much hair as my friend with one lab! I would like a dog too, at some point, but with 2 kids under 4, everyone says they are like another baby if you get a puppy, and make sure you are ready for more sleepless nights. I'm just starting with my 2 year old to sleep from 10-5, (still not enough) so maybe next year I'll get a dog....then the arguments about what breed begin!
Thanks for asking Tracy. I would love to write about Tick and tell you the whole story. Since Mothering revamped the forums, the site is not letting me upload photos (I had a very sweet one for this post which I hope I can add when that glitch gets fixed). I'll post that story next week. Hopefully by then the photo glitch will be fixed. .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..On the Road Again =-.
We have two dogs (and 3 cats and 2 turtles, but that's another story). The arrival of each dog (separately, as pups) pushed me into crisis mode for a time. They are so dear, but it is like having another child in the house. You forget how much energy that takes... they have to go out all the time, they have accidents right when you are trying to rush to do something else, they get into things, and most of all, they need your time and your love. It is floor time all over again. (Probably adopting an older dog would be somewhat easier, but there is still an adjustment time). Yet, they are both much loved members of our household and I don't ever wish we hadn't taken them. Dogs are great at reminding us how to be happy-- they greet each day with optimism, they are always up for any adventure, they love the small things like a tummy scratch or a fresh treat to chew. And yes, they do actually keep the floors very crumb-free! :)
LynneL - James and I are both sadly very allergic to cats so having a cat isn't really an option (though I did have two Siamese when I was in my twenties in West Africa. I'm not sure if it was the arid climate or the breed or the combination of the two but I wasn't plagued by allergies with them.) I start to wheeze if I walk into a house where cats lived YEARS before. It's that bad. If you do decide to get a dog, I hope you'll report back in about it. It's so exhausting when your kids aren't sleeping. It seems like it will take forever for them to sleep through the night. But then they start to. .-= Jennifer Margulis´s last blog ..On the Road Again =-.
I think owning a dog is much like parenting a child. The initial investment of time and energy is huge, but the payoff is rewarding. Our dog, a 110 lb mastiff, and our one-year-old daughter are great playmates already. Even though we live in the city without a yard, and taking the dog out means going for a walk ourselves several times a day, we see it as a blessing. Our walks add routine to our lives and ensure we get outside every day, regardless of the Chicago weather. For us, the dog provides security in addition to companionship- he earns his keep (I think we pay about as much for his food as we would for a security system). Growing up, my parents always had a reason for us not to get a dog- no backyard, no time... but eventually, we adopted a family dog. When he passed away 12 years later, my mom told me through tears that she wished she hadn't made us wait so long because the joy he brought to us children was worth any inconvenience. Just thought I'd share her experienced perspective :) .-= Mama Em´s last blog ..To Tye- at 1 Year =-.
Cat person here. Cats are much easier than dogs when you have a busy life. They pretty much take care of themselves. Also, they eat less. Children love to cuddle with them. They do not smell. They clean themselves. They can be outdoor cats and not need a litter box. Have you considered getting a cat? .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..PB Boulangerie-Bistro- Bring on the Stars! =-.
Mothering › Child Articles › On Not Having a Dog