After our Border Collie, Angus, died in July, the one thing we knew for certain, for absolutely certain, was that we would never get another pet. We did not want to go through such pet-end-of-life sadness again. Besides, we wanted to travel. And we wanted to be able to go cycling without a dog making us feel horribly guilty about it. This wasn’t a maybe thing, this was a sure thing, a 100% totally written-in-stone guarantee of the highest order: No dog.
Which is interesting, because I seem to have a growing collection of dogs-being-cute videos and breed information pages bookmarked in my browser. And somehow the SPCA website is bookmarked, too. In fact, there is now an entire dedicated folder in my browser called ‘Dog’. And our conversation these days often comes back around to dogs, and contains slightly different terms than ‘never’ and ‘no’.
It has been a sneaky process, this awareness of dog. At first we satisfied it by patting all the dogs we could corner while out on walks. We would slow down in the car or on our bikes to gaze lovingly at dogs, our eyes so avid that the owners must surely have felt threatened. I think all the dog owners ‘round these parts hate us now, because we have pretty much patted the hair right off their dogs.
We constantly reminded ourselves, “We aren’t going to get another dog, that much is definite,” except we keep adding caveats, “but if we did, and we won’t (but if we did), it would have to be a smaller breed because when it gets old we will be too old to pack a sick old dog that weighs, say, over 70 pounds. But,” we said, with something passing for conviction, “it’s academic, because we aren’t getting a dog.”
After awhile, the conversations inched toward “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we get a dog, (all such conversations started that way at first, now, not so much) but don’t you miss patting one?” “Yes, I do, and I miss walking one, even in bad weather. Funny, that.” This progressed fairly quickly to, “and although we certainly won’t get another dog, what breeds would you get if in some pretend alternate world, we were going to get one?” which led to discussions about pound dogs, Shelties, English Cocker Spaniels, English Bulldogs, and Scottish Terriers.
It does not help that I have a friend who knows all about Cocker Spaniels and a friend who knows all about Scottish Terriers. It does not help at all. They, just because I bug them endlessly to do so, are very generous with information about the two breeds. My friend Lorna, the Scottie owner, really gets what we’re going through because she’s been there herself. She understands the sudden heartbreaking thoughts of one’s old dog in the midst of thoughts of getting a new dog. She understands the need for a smaller dog because of the lifting thing. And best of all, she really gets what it is about Scotties.
But it’s all irrelevant, because we’re not getting another dog.
That said, somewhere along the way, Jim’s and my conversations have become more about WHAT and WHEN, and the words ‘no’, ‘if’, and ‘won’t’ are words that seem to have vacated our vocabulary, despite that we’re not getting a dog. We have advanced now to HOW we’ll get a dog.
I really don’t know how these things happen.
Getting a rescue or shelter dog is one option. The idea of getting a puppy from a breeder when that puppy is already virtually guaranteed to get a home instead of getting a dog from a pound or shelter or rescue is troubling to me. It goes without saying that getting a dog from a pet store is out of the question, those dogs are from puppy mills, and hopefully pet stores everywhere will soon be forbidden to sell animals. We have always refused to shop for toys and other supplies at pet stores that also sell animals.
With our six-year old grandson, Andrew, being very much part of our everyday lives, there are certain advantages to getting a purebred puppy, since a) the traits of such are often written-in-stone (unlike our conviction about getting a dog) and b) the puppy would grow up bonded extra closely to the boy, which might not be the case with a pound dog. And Andrew, who was hit hard with the death of Angus, would certainly benefit from having a dog around for a good long time.
To confuse (or possibly resolve) the problem of dog, our daughter, the eternal babysitter for Angus, was as adamant as us. “There is NO WAY I want a dog and NO WAY that I’m going to take care of your dog if you get another and you want to go away. You’re on your own.” This has, interestingly enough, morphed to thoughts of possibly getting a dog herself, along with a surprising number of oohs, aahs, and goos over the aforementioned videos. She must have inherited her adamant-gene from us. She has also stirred the pot by reminding me of a dog I had long ago felt sure would make an amazing pet, but somehow had forgotten about: the Greyhound.
Thanks to information online and lots of youtube videos, it turns out that I still think a Greyhound would make an amazing pet. They are extraordinarily goofy, loving and devoted, and are gentle with children and fond of them, too (for some reason) (just kidding, Andrew). And it very much does save a life when you adopt one.
Too bad that we’re absolutely not getting another dog. Ever.
Until we do.
Enter dog cuteness area:
Wild West dog (Scottie cuteness)
Dizzy dog (Greyhound cuteness)
Kleptomaniac dog (Greyhound cuteness)
Opera dog (Scottie cuteness)
Boxed dog (English Bulldog cuteness)