It's no secret that I'm not much of a pet lover. At best, I'm a pet tolerator. It's not that I have NEVER loved a pet. Oh I could wax poetic about how I used to love to ride our beautiful and fast horse, Prince. I could probably even conjure up tears - or at least a lump in my throat - if I thought long and hard about what it was like to lose Curly, our longtime family dog. And I remember with fondness what fun it used to be to hunt for the new kittens on the farm, when we were certain Snappy had given birth to yet another litter.
But in my adult years, I have never wanted a pet. I have to be honest - caregiving is not one of my greatest skills. I'm just happy I managed to keep three kids alive - I'm not sure I want to have the survival of yet another creature (that's not even part of my bloodline) reliant on me for its care.
And yet... here's the really scary part... are you ready for it? We are considering getting a dog. Yeah, let that sink in for awhile.
You see, if I don't consider it, Julie may go through life believing I am an ogre of a parent, depriving her of her heart's desire all these years. And I'm not sure I want to live with that legacy. (Though if she starts asking me to help provide the kind of pet care Michele has had to live with in the last couple of years, I think I'll stick with being an ogre.)
Julie's Christmas list looked something like this:
You get the picture.
She has become obsessed with this singular goal in life. At Christmas time I told her "well, if we were to get a dog, it wouldn't be in the dead of winter. Ask me again in the Spring." And then I told her, "if this is something you're serious about, then you need to do some research to find the right breed of dog for our family - one that won't shed and mess with your dad's allergies, one that won't require constant attention and frequent exercise, that's good with kids, etc."
Well, since she heard that tiny offering of hope, she has done little else but research dogs. She is fast becoming an encyclopedia of dog breeds. At first, she wanted an American Eskimo, but that long hair looks like it would end up all over the house (keep in mind that this is a girl who doesn't even like to brush her OWN hair, so I'm not convinced she'd do the weekly grooming required.) Then she began to set her sites on a Pug.
So, here's the thing... I know alot of you are fond of pets. In fact, I think that among my blog readership, I am seriously outnumbered in my lack of deep affection for pets. So I need your advice...
1. What would be the best breed of dog for a family like ours, that tends to be a little on the lazy and "less-than-meticulous" side? (I need a non-shedder who's okay with not being walked half a dozen times a day.)
2. Which breeds are good with children?
3. What's the one thing you wish you'd known before committing to having a dog around the house?
4. Is it possible to have a dog trained well enough that it can go 8 hours without having to go outside? I'm really not interested in a pet that will dramatically impact our schedules.
And speaking of pets, hearing Andrea talk about her love for her recently-departed dog Zappa has definitely given me moments when I've thought "hmmm... I wonder what it would be like to love a pet like that?" You really should check out her new painting of Zappa. I love it when she shows the progress a painting goes through before the final product emerges.