Let me start by saying that I love dogs. I love pets and animals really, in general. I used to have dogs and I loved them. For Pete’s sake, our Cavalier King Charles used to sleep with his head on the pillow next to me. I even tucked him into the covers like a kid. Don’t get me started on our Labrador that I used to spoon while watching The Bachelor!
When I see a cute puppy, I can’t help myself and start talking in that terrible voice. You know the one I’m talking about… It’s the voice reserved for babies and the baby-version of almost all animals. “Who’s the cutest? You’re the cutest. Yes, you are! You are the cutest thing ever!” It’s mild to moderately embarrassing, but if you can talk to a 6-week old fuzz-ball Golden Retriever without using that voice, well, you’re a magician. I love to snuggle a sweet dog just as much as the next person, but just because I love them doesn’t mean I want to own one.
I am so glad I don’t own a dog.
The closest thing we have to a pet in our home is a Venus Fly Trap that lives on our deck. It should be shared in the interest of full disclosure: I do not have a green thumb. Somehow in spite of this, our Venus Fly Trap has lasted roughly four months and continues to thrive. I have even successfully convinced my seven-year old that this counts as a pet because of its carnivorous ways. He’s asked for pets many times before and that’s how we ended up with a carnivorous plant named Pluto. My son doesn’t understand all of the rationale behind our pet-free family, but I know fellow moms can definitely empathize.
Dogs are like babies that never really grow up. At first, they’re solely dependent on you like infants. Remember that stage? I sure do. It was fun, but it was hard. Babies change so much in such a short amount of time. They’re dang cute, cuddly and do a lot of funny things. But much like babies, there’s middle of the night wake-up calls. For babies, it’s to nurse or give them a bottle, but for dogs, it’s to let them out. I don’t know about you but I’m not a big fan of opening the door in the dead of a Minnesota winter (at a whopping -27 degrees Fahrenheit) while sporting only my pajamas. No thank you.
Sure, dogs mature; they grow up, little by little. They can hold their bladder through the night. This right here is a sweet spot, my friends, at least in terms of sleep cycles.
Puppies and toddlers are still soft and full of snuggles, but they have more than enough wiggles and the overwhelming need to start exerting some independence. There’s less accidents for Fido, probably more accidents for the toddler. The mischief kicks in here too for puppies and toddlers alike. Toddlers might draw on the walls. Dogs might eat your new Converse. I don’t know about you but I don’t know if I have the emotional capacity for both. Walls can be cleaned; shoes cannot be regurgitated into wearable fashion.
Then the curve starts to change. Children get more independent, more self-sufficient. Dogs do not. They still need you to meet all their needs. As dogs age, they become more dependent. They lose things. (It’s not quite like your teenager losing their homework or their retainer… again.) Dogs lose teeth, hearing or bladder control. Old age for pets gets rough. And it’s rough on their owners too. I find that juggling a job, a kid, our home, sports, activities and some semblance of a social life to be enough of a balancing act without having to hurry home from an all-day football tournament across town to let out Lassie so she doesn’t have an accident. Hard pass, thanks.
This is why I will dog-sit. My son and I love to dog-sit. You’re going away for a weekend but don’t know what to do with Zeus, the Mastiff? No worries, we’ll watch him. Vacationing in Mexico for a week but you need someone to tend your energetic mixed-breed, Wylie? We’ve got you. I will feed, walk and pick up after your dog. I will snuggle and spoil your dog too. In the end, I will happily return him hopped on too many treats like a classic grandparent who’s watched the grand-kids for the weekend.
I truly love dogs. I may change my mind somewhere in the distant future but I am so glad I don’t own one. I’m not a dog owner but Pluto, the Venus Fly Trap, eats the spiders on my deck. And I make a heck of an awesome dog grandma.