May 21, 2018
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Because dogs don’t live in jars

Erin Donovan
By Erin Donovan, Special to the BDN

The kids want a pet. They have wanted a pet for some time. I was able to put it off for the last few years since the kids were young enough that I could have put a dead moth in a jar and they would have believed I gave them a Bald Eagle.

Bald Eagle Moths aside, I don’t have a great track record with pets. I’ve made no secret about the fact that I hated my ex’s dog. I did. Since I entered that dog’s life 10 years ago she was determined to send me walking right back out of it wearing underwear with holes chewed in it. Whenever the subject of the dog came up, his family would say, “Does he know you hate his dog?” The mailman knew that I hated the dog. Of course my husband knew.

Dogs didn’t always turn my heart to black. If you were to invite me over for dinner, I’d be perfectly kind to your dog. I may knee it in the privates when you’re not looking if he tries to eat my appetizer or sniffs the undercarriage too intensely, but you would never know it. I liked our family dog growing up, at least until she would attempt to climb into my bed. Even in my formative years, I had a distaste for dog hair and saliva. I don’t particularly care for mammalian hair or saliva of any kind unless someone can confirm them to be the active ingredients behind Cindy Crawford’s youthful face — then you could tar and feather me in it.

Maui and I were bound to dislike each other from the start. Her breed was the Samoyed, historically referenced to be a sledding dog from Siberia. She was covered in a dense undercoat, like a thicket of weeds, topped by an unruly outer coat of white. Her breed description employed phrases reserved for infamous people like O.J. Simpson or George W. Bush, like “intractable when disinterested or scolded,” or “will search for ways to get around doing what is commanded.” Like George Bush, she would have done whatever she wanted regardless of public opinion. Like O.J., she would have left me to bleed to death while speeding down the highway in a Ford Bronco.

We had so many sour interactions over a decade that it would be impossible to catalogue them all. She destroyed the only pair of jeans that didn’t make my rear-end look like two sacks of nickels. She once chewed open a laundry detergent bottle, leaving a soapy blue pond across my kitchen floor which took an entire day to clean. She once bolted into traffic, overturning the stroller carrying my newborn child. She ate two dozen cupcakes I had made for an Easter brunch. She mounted my brother and urinated on him, although that proved to be hilarious in hindsight. She rooted through the garbage daily. She barked round the clock. She destroyed everything.

In fairness to Maui, I was certainly no dog whisperer. I was not patient and diligent in my training of dogs, prescribing more to the “just don’t poop in the house” theory of behavioral training. I wasn’t focused before we had children, so distracted and disinterested became the core dog-owning philosophies I relied upon after their birth.

Since Maui has now passed, at the ripe age of 14, the kids would like to get another dog. They would be elated if I would agree to let them pick out a puppy. It’s not going to happen for myriad reasons. First, while some people scratch their heads at the complexities of having three children, I always say, “No one tells you that you have to kennel your children before coming for a visit.” I also find our house feels claustrophobic with four humans within it, so adding another hairy and drooling thing would be like taking John Candy in as a boarder. The primary reason, however, is that dogs require a lot of work. Any strung-out Mom will attest that they do not consider a gift to be another being that eats, drinks and poops. Unless that being is a maid or Brad Pitt. We particularly do not want beings that awaken the other beings that eat, drink, and poop.

I realize that we make concessions in parenthood and that one day I may be forced by three sets of pleading eyeballs to acquiesce to a new dog. I’ve already started researching a breed now since it will likely take a decade to happen upon one that doesn’t bark, shed, eat garbage, or like activity. I’m really looking for more of an ottoman than an actual animal. With all the genetic advances of late, I am hopeful scientists will be able to engineer the perfect dog by crossing the DNA of a leather sofa with that of a three-legged Golden Retriever.

The kids say that it would be fun to get a dog, but I figure they already have a thing waiting around for a bowl of food and water and an occasional pat on the head. And I’m house trained.


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