October 5, 2020 – You’ve gotta love dogs.

I started out as a cat person. I absolutely l-o-v-e-d cats. Have you heard of the saying, “I love you to death”? Well, I do admit that at some point in my childhood, I may have ‘realized’ that saying in the worst possible way. I must first clarify that it was purely unintentional. If it weren’t, I’d probably be writing to you from behind bars, fulfilling a life sentence, after being convicted of multiple murders that far surpassed the atrocities committed by Aileen Wuornos. It was not, however, intentional. It was a very innocent gesture that went horribly wrong. Imagine. A 3-4 year old girl that as she’s skipping through the grass, delightfully discovers a litter of sweet, newly-born kittens. Momma cat is nowhere to be found. She (me) yearns to comfort them so what better way to do that very thing than to jam two apiece in her pockets (oh my gosh, I just heard you gasp!) and take them for a ride on a swing set? I’ll just say it didn’t end well. Once I got off the swings, the kittens were no longer moving (or breathing).

I don’t honestly remember how I responded at the time but I think my older siblings were mortified but also slightly amused. They still bring it up to this day, how I snuffed out the lives of 4 poor innocent kittens. Not my finest hour, and kids…DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME! My feline friends likely ended up being buried in the cemetery we lived next to, where all of our animals eventually were laid to rest. I think we unknowingly started the first pet cemetery in the area but I could be wrong. Ok…I’m getting off track, I need to reel this thing back in. So I started out as a cat person but that changed as soon as I got married. My husband was a dog person and was not even remotely a fan of cats (I’ll spare you the details). Through the years, we have had many, many dogs. I tolerated them for a long time but never really appreciated them until we brought home the smartest, sweetest pitbull-mix rescue. He was one of those dogs that you just couldn’t help but fall for. When he passed, which they all eventually do, after giving us many years of joy and entertainment and company, we were heartbroken.

My husband and I didn’t know how we could handle the loss of another beloved pet. It was just so devastating! We discussed it at length. Maybe we shouldn’t get any more animals? Maybe we should just forget the whole idea of ‘pet ownership’ and do other things with our lives, like buying an RV and travelling throughout the United States (or something along those lines)? Fast forward a month, a new dog enters our lives. I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but we were smitten. Someone had adopted her from the local shelter and decided within a month that she wasn’t working out so they posted her on Craigslist for a small ‘rehoming’ fee. I didn’t want to take the leap so soon. I was still grieving our last dog. But as soon as they brought her over, I was hooked.

There are so many things about her that drive me nuts. There’s the hair, first of all. I am pretty sure she has a mutant gene that causes her to generate 10x as much hair as an average dog. I am constantly removing hair from surfaces throughout my house, including my own surfaces (shirts, pants, coats, socks). And if you haven’t already guessed, every room is equipped with a tape roller. They’re nice to have nearby just in case I’ve made contact with her at some point earlier in the day and need to make myself presentable at a moment’s notice. I even keep one in the center console of each couch in case I’d like to sit down and watch a show or visit with a friend and would rather clean the hair off ahead of time rather than removing it from my derriere at a later date. Why didn’t I invest in 3M? Why, oh why?! And the amount of hair that I pull from the lint filter after I launder the sweaters and blankets and bedding is incredulous. I could literally make an outfit from it. Oh! And there’s the follow-up cleaning because once I launder my pet’s items, I then have to ‘clean’ my appliances because that damn hair sticks to EVERYTHING! I didn’t know that vacuuming out a washer and dryer was even a ‘thing’ until I had a dog.

I should also advise you that there are also vet visits and grooming matters to consider. I thought I could buy a nifty little gadget from the store to file down my dog’s dew claws. That was a big fat waste of money! As soon as I turn it on, she bolts. My husband and I have tried to do it together, and it usually doesn’t end well. She rears up like a bucking bronco and wrestles herself out of our grip every single time. And aside from those matters, which can really add up, there’s also food and snacks and toys and medicine and POOP, so much poop. And is your yard big enough? Or if you don’t happen to have a yard where you live, is your apartment or house big enough? And let me just tell you, expect to lose a few shoes. It’s going to happen, I don’t care how much you prepare, your dog will destroy at least one of your favorite pairs of shoes.

Oh my goodness, I’ve been talking so much about the ‘cons’ of owning a dog, that I think I may have completely turned you off to the possibility. Sorry about that, it wasn’t my intention. The pros? Dogs = unconditional love and are amazing companions. They can be funny and sweet and playful and cuddly and downright adorable. They are also great listeners and don’t (generally) talk back. They are oh-so-grateful for even the smallest gestures. And they make exceptional personal trainers, too. If you hire a person and you don’t feel like exercising, you can just send a text or make a call and you’re off the hook in seconds flat. Think your dog is going to tolerate that from you? Think again. I have tried for several years to skip a day of walking but she won’t have it. She carries on until she has achieved her goal, to drag my carcass out of bed. I have to admit, I’m grateful that she’s so relentless. It gets my butt out the door, and I always feel better afterward.

Ok…looking back, the ‘cons’ clearly outnumber the ‘pros’ BUT the ‘pros’ far outweigh the ‘cons’ without question. If you were to put cats and dogs on a ballot and make me have to choose between the two, the dogs would have my vote. What can I say? You’ve gotta love dogs!

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