We had a dog. Temporarily. Friends finally took us up on our offer to dog-sit. While I have not yet given in to the pleas of our children AND my spouse, I have proactively invited friends to leave their dogs with us when they go on vacation. Last week, we were dog-sitting Rex, the charcoal-colored, mostly miniature poodle mix.
I cast the dog veto in this house. I am the only one in this family who has ever had a dog. When I was a kid, our dogs were like siblings – siblings who were always happy to see me and never irritated me. They were good girls, a mother/daughter pair. When I think of Mitzie (Mitzvah) and Allie (Alef), I remember teaching them to sit and shake hands/paws. I remember making elaborate pillow forts where we all hid, and I remember keeping each other company any time of day or night.
I also remember listening to my mother shriek, “No! Stop!! STOP!!!” when they sat down in the living room and pulled their hind quarters forward with their front legs, slowly dragging themselves along our white, shag carpet, relieving a bothersome itch and leaving a brown trail in their wake.
I remember hearing heaving noises knowing that I would soon be called upon to clean up fresh, chunky, steaming dog vomit from our floor. I gagged the entire time, and I gag now thinking about it. Dog vomit PTSD.
I remember our dogs growing old, blind and deaf but still present. I would lift an ear and yell directly into it, “MITZIE!! WANNA GO OUT?” And Mitzie would raise her doggie brows and try to track the distant sound of a far-off invitation and then I would watch her walk towards that sound only to find her nose flattened against a wall.
I was not responsible for our dogs. My stay-at-home-mother was. I am the mother of this house, and this mutha has no interest in taking care of one more living creature – a creature that never becomes more independent with age.
Until this visit, people would ask us when we were getting a dog as if that was as inevitable as death. “My mom won’t let us have a dog,” was the answer the boys would provide. I hated that answer because it was true.
Rex was (is) a very sweet dog. He was also gentle and easy and playful and the boys loved him. “Why don’t you make a pillow fort and see if Rex wants to play inside of it with you?” I have asked the children all week. “That’s a great idea!” was the answer. During his visit, no child built a pillow fort.
“Who is coming on a walk with Rex and me?” I asked the children all week. “Nah. We’ll stay home” was the answer. “You can never have a dog if you aren’t willing to walk it.” “Uch, fiiiiiine.”
“Who wants to pick up the poop?” I asked all week long. “NOT ME!” was the answer. “You can never have a dog if you aren’t willing to pick up the poop.” “Well, I’ll pick up poop of our own dog.” “Yeah? Well, if you can’t do this now, then I have no indication that you will do this later.” During his visit, no child picked up poop.
We remain a dog-sitting family as opposed to a dog-owning family until further notice. And now when people ask us when we’re
getting a dog, I have made it clear that the answer is not, “Mom won’t let us have a dog.” The answer is, “When poop picks itself up.”