Dog House

dog thinks a childMy kids thought it might be a good idea to buy a dog for my Christmas present. They wanted to surprise me but my wife wisely thought it best to make sure I was on board.

With two of my kids away at college and my third about to get her driver’s license, I guess they thought I needed to jostle my newfound solitude with some substitute chaos.

They were wrong. Truth be told, I’ve been kind of enjoying the quiet. I’m also very busy at work and taking on several new projects.

So a dog? No thanks.

I do like dogs. I grew up with a bulldog named Toby. He was a slobbering, smelly, glorious mass of ugly. One evening he was running across our front yard when he collapsed. My dad rushed him to the vet but it was too late. I was heartbroken.

We spent much of this month-long Christmas break discussing the advantages and disadvantages of owning a dog. The kids were enthusiastic and focused on the positive.   They were so certain it was a fait accompli that they even began discussing names.

About three weeks into the break I hiked over seven peaks of dirty clothes on the way to an empty refrigerator. I was the only one awake so I started to imagine my routine with a dog. Later that evening I broke the bad news to everyone.

“Guys I really appreciate the gesture but I just don’t believe I am ready for a dog.”

They were disappointed.

“Why not?” they asked.

“It will be so much fun” said Sophie.

“You need another companion. Someone who can take our place when we’re gone” offered Stephen.

While I’m sure he was referring to the “loyal, playful companion” aspect of pet ownership and parent child dynamics, the only image I was able to conjure was the “eats everything in sight, makes strange noises, sheds and keeps irregular hours” version of both.

My mind was made up. I was through with rearing creatures of any kind. I just didn’t want the expense, the time commitment, the worry.

We were still talking about it as the kids loaded their cars to head back to college.

“Are you sure you don’t want to give it a try?” they would implore.

“I’m sure” I replied.

After they drove away, I went inside and settled into my couch-all alone. Then I made a list of books I want to read. I turned on the football game. I read the New York Times. I went to my office. As the evening came around I reveled in the quiet. It sure was quiet. So, so quiet.

As for the dog? We’re picking her up this week.

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