My wife and I got a new family member a few weeks ago. We added a pet to the household mix.
I understand, for many of you that’s nothing special. Many people, I know, are leashed to their “fur babies” (pun intended). I’ve seen dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, horses, pigs, turtles and even rats and spiders be given special treatment by their owners.
To be honest, I’ve never quite understood it. I’ve had family pets since I was a child and, while I enjoyed them all, that connection I’ve witnessed in others just never really took hold with me. The closest I ever came was a couple of black cats my daughter brought home one October. As Halloween was nearing, she and her friends, having found them abandoned, were afraid for their safety and they wound up in our home. One was skinny, one was fat, but both seemed to prefer my lap as their favorite place to relax. It became a handy excuse for me if I were asked to do anything. “Sorry. I can’t. I’ve got a cat in my lap.”
But I’ve always wondered about self-professed “dog people” or “cat people.”
I have a professional colleague who’ll happily tell you she likes her dogs more than she likes people. Sadly, she lost both of them in a pretty short period of time and I’ve been surprised she hasn’t sought out a new “family member”. She’ll tell you that her dog, at game time, would go get his Dallas Cowboys bandana off its hook when she told him it was game time. She took him to Starbucks on a regular basis for a “puppacino”. One sister-in-law, I believe, never leaves the house without her “shadow”.
In recent years, the work schedule of my wife and I made it difficult to have a pet. We did have one briefly and because we traveled a lot, there were stretches of time when the dog was boarded more than she was home. That just seemed unfair to me. When my wife’s mother lost her dog suddenly, and we were in the midst of a move to another state, we asked her to “babysit.” She got so attached, we didn’t have the heart to tell her it was time for the pooch to come “home” and she gave our dog more care than we were able to at the time. I thought it was a good solution for the dog, though I know some people would be mortified. In all honesty, I thought it was better for the pet.
But now, as life has become more stable, we travel less, my wife’s at home most days, so she started “shopping”.
It started with her showing me photos of random breeds. “Isn’t he CUTE?” Weekly, then every few days, then daily. I knew what was coming. And I know she probably thinks she was being sly and strategic, easing me into the idea. Yeah, right. I knew what was coming.
So, the weekend after the great snowstorm of 2021, we owned a puppy.
Since then, I’ve found the issues of housebreaking a dog are as painful as I remember. And if there’s an “issue” in the middle of the night, guess who’s most likely to be standing in the backyard while the dog does his “business.” And, while he came home with just one toy (One. Count ‘em. One.), we now have a basketful, generally strewn throughout the house. While my wife will gather them up at least daily and put them in the basket, within a few hours, they’re taken, one by one, mostly to his bed, but also dropped in strategic locations. I’m sure it’s some kind of doggie logistics plan, to assure he’s never far from entertainment.
And I have to say, it’s been great. He’s actually the most entertaining dog I’ve seen in a long time, but also loves to relax and “chill” for a while, which suits my wife and me just fine.
I wonder. Do you think I’ve become a “dog person”?
David Stringer is the publisher of The Lawton Constitution, a past-president of the Oklahoma Press Association and a media professional for over 40 years, more than half of that in Oklahoma. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.