Five in the past 4 months. They fell without a fight like sorority girls at their first frat party. Some swore they would never, and for others, it was just a matter of time. I wasn’t prepared.
I tried to put myself in their shoes – tried to understand and not judge. It could be that they were bored – children getting older and going off to school full-time – at home talking to themselves in desperate need of love. Need of purpose. But no matter how I tried to frame it, I couldn’t help feel like everyone around me had opted into an epidemic.
Dogs. Suddenly everyone around me has a new dog. Everyone meaning at least 5 families but all in the past 4 months.
They show up with their puppy or their rescue dog at Tae Kwon Do and the soccer field and at preschool and all the children and moms and dads and au pairs gather around the new members of the family as the proud parent holds tightly to the umbilical cord leash. There is much squealing as the masses close in around the dog to gently stroke the soft puppy fur and coo in floppy puppy dog ears.
“Who’s a good girl?” “Aren’t you a pretty puppy?” “You like that right under the chin, don’t you?” “I had a puppy just like this one when I was growing up. My neighbor poisoned him, and I found him in the bushes when I got home from school.”
But mostly the comments are sweet drops of happy drizzled all over a big scoop of affection.
I’ve been avoiding the crowds and mumbling to myself to drown out the bathetic, gurgles. I find something else to do to refocus. There must be a text I have to send. Surely, someone has posted essential news on Facebook. I must avert my eyes from the plush toys come to life and turn my heart to stone.
The problem is I love dogs. I do. Even worse, Gabriella and the boys want a dog.
Levi is obsessed with dogs. I’m pretty sure that he was a dog in a previous life. He loves dirt. He could play in dirt for hours – no exaggeration. For a good part of his toddlerhood, he ate face-first in his plate without ever acknowledging utensils or appreciating the miracle that is the opposable thumb. He is the friendliest being I’ve ever known, rolling down the window of the car to greet EVERYONE he sees from our moving vehicle. Do we still “roll down” windows that operate electronically? Do we button down windows now? Levi will run at his fastest pace down the block until thoroughly winded to pet any dog he spots. Also, it should come as no surprise that Levi was born under the Chinese sign of the dog.
Asher is not so keen but he is not opposed either as long as we had a dog that didn’t bark or lick his face or jump on top of him. His desire to have a dog ebbs and flows, yet it is because of him that I entertain the thought and because of him I’ve taken the “What kind of dog is right for you” questionnaire. Twice. We went and had another kid for Asher’s amusement, but Levi is more boy than dog and is not always available or willing to do Asher’s bidding. Asher is that kid who would benefit more than any of us from a pet that offers unconditional love all day, every day. I know this because he is, in so many ways, his mother’s son and needs a sure thing in the uncertain world around him. I berate myself for denying him an adoring companion.
“Maybe when you’re old enough to take care of a dog,” I tease. But I know that even if that day comes, I’m still the one taking care of that flippin’ mutt. I’d rather have another baby than a dog. Babies grow up and learn to go to the bathroom by themselves and eventually go to school all day and mow the lawn…I hope.
And what of the name? Levi has several stuffed, toy dogs (as opposed to real, mounted and preserved in the taxidermy sense). They are named Spot 1, Spot 2, Spot 3, etc. I shan’t have a Spot 11. Such pressure to find a good name when the possibilities are far greater than they are for a child. A dog’s name can be literary or mythological or biblical or abstract or nonsensical. I am overwhelmed at the thought of selecting a dog’s name.
I consider the investment for food and grooming and healthcare that could otherwise go to essentials like new shoes and alcohol. I consider the hassle in planning a family getaway and the walks in the rain and snow. I think about picking up dog poo with my hands – only a thin layer of plastic in between my person and steaming shit. These thoughts always end in an eye-watering series of deep-throat gags, and I am born-again. Hallelulah, we will have no dog!!
But my heart is softening. Liquefying even as I consider the greater good. A boy and his dog. Two boys and their dog. How I can I resist? Maybe we could just get an au pair. Deborah needs a loving companion, too. If only I could just get pregnant. That would solve everything!
Dedicated to our childhood pet Mitzie (full name Mitzvah Goldstein) who mothered Alef (Allie pron. AH-lee), Baise and Gimmel (the first 3 letters in the Hebrew alphabet/alef-bet) Living in a small apartment in New York, my parents gave away Baise and Gimmel. Mitzie and Allie lived with us for 18 happy years and whose memories are a blessing.
|Mitzie with 1 month old me.|
|My thumb and Allie protect me from that sofa!|
|Allie is the one on the right.|