So, my wife and I are dogsitting for our “grand dog,” while my daughter and son-in-law are on a vacation in New York City. We see the dog (Heidi, a miniature black schnauzer) regularly, since we drop by their house every evening and take Heidi with us on our daily walk. She’s a sweet, well-behaved, and incredibly well-trained dog.
Living with a dog, however, is very different from visiting with one.
With Heidi living at our house for the past few days, I am reminded of the many reasons why we no longer own a dog ourselves:
- Dogs demand attention. Every 30 minutes or so she removes herself from her blanket and makes it quite clear that it is “time to give the dog a backrub. NOW!” It’s been interesting the past two workdays, as she comes out to my office, lays her head on my lap, and stares up at me. Shooing her away does not work. Only after I give her several minutes of attention will she shake herself off, look at me with satisfaction, and head back for a (yet another) nap.
- Dogs watch everything you do. Everything. It’s sort of creepy when she just sits and stares at me. While I eat: staring. When I brush my teeth: staring. While I grade papers, write, or read the newspaper: staring. It’s sort of like having a stalker, only smaller.
- Dogs have their own agendas. Like, “I want to go out and smell stuff at 3AM” or “I love to snuffle around in decomposing leaves — you don’t mind if I bring them inside, do you?”
- Dogs don’t wear boots outdoors. So when it’s raining, they bring mud samples inside. And when it’s snowing, they like to collect several pounds of ice and bring it in to melt it on the linoleum floor, right where I stand in my socks. Brrr!
- Dogs don’t use toilets. This means we cannot leave the house for longer than 7 hours. Well, this is not too much of a hardship for a few days, but I feel very restricted by that timeframe. Our goldfish can go up to two days without us — much more convenient.
- Dogs can’t open doors. So, you were thinking weekend, and sleeping in? NOT! This dog wants to head outside and then be fed — and let outside again — at 6AM, 7 days a week. Bummer.
- Wet dogs smell. Yep. No matter how cute, a dog that’s been out in the rain exudes an odor like… well, a wet dog!
Maybe I’m being a bit harsh. Heidi truly is a joy. She’s small enough to sit on my lap, and is overall a very well-behaved dog. While she may demand back rubs a bit often, her show of gratitude always warms my heart (dogs are great at being Happy!). Plus — and this is a mystery — this dog almost never barks. Truly! Her orginal owner trained her well. So she’s never disruptive while I’m on the phone, even when she’s trying to crawl up onto my chair while I’m typing.
Plus, I’m realizing that this training may serve me well for when we eventually have grandchildren. Can you see the parallels? Grandchildren: demand attention, watch everything you do, have their own agendas, track in dirt, don’t use toilets, can’t open doors (we hope!), and when they’re wet… they smell. 🙂
So you’re saying happiness ISN’T a warm puppy??? 🙂
Seriously, I’m printing this out and handing copies to everyone who asks why Jeff and I haven’t adopted a new dog into our family yet. Turtles are much easier!!
My point: happiness is a warm puppy… but not a wet one, or one that gets you up at 3AM. The research on happiness shows that having a pet (some other living being to be responsible for) correlates to increased levels of happiness. But the pet need not be a mammal. Reptiles don’t love us back, but it’s not about THEM… it’s about us. If I as owner feel the caring and the responsibility, I’m happier, even if I can’t feel the love from my fish. They do, however, swim to the top of the tank whenever I come over the feed them. So, maybe they DO care?!