I grew up with pets.
My wife did not.
She grew up at Sea World and dreamed of working with orcas.
To be fair we Samoans don’t really have pets that we dote over and dress up in frilly outfits or in a Batman cape at Halloween. No, the pets we have are merely for practical purposes like guarding the few belongings we own from burglars or for protecting the people we love from predators. We own cats simply to eradicate our homes from mice and other pests.
In America we buy dog food.
In Samoa the dog eats leftovers.
In America dogs are on a leash.
In Samoa dogs roam the earth like dinosaurs.
In our married life we have owned a few birds, lots of gold fish, a hamster, a turtle and a couple of dogs. All of our pets have escaped our home and sprinted off to freedom the moment they were able. If the gold fish could walk or somehow find their way to the ocean from our home ala Finding Nemo they would have gladly opted out like all the rest.
We are not good with pets.
But we are stubborn. We hate failure in our house so we persist in thinking that animals will eventually love us even though we are absolutely horrible at being pet owners. We haven’t the slightest clue at what it takes to be good at raising animals.
So about two months ago we bought a puppy. A husky-Australian Shepard mix that the boys and I were ecstatic about. Their mother on the other hand was less than enthusiastic and her interest in the puppy waned even more when he started leaving steaming piles of “forget me not’s” and little puddles of “I heart u’s” up and down the hard wood floors.
“This dog is driving me nuts!”
“It’s a puppy, give it time,” I lamented.
“Well you guys are taking care of it,” she stammered while trying to avoid yet another batch of puppy cakes from the little hairballs rear end cooker.
And of course when she says, ‘You Guys’ what she really means is ‘Me’ – The dad who brought the puppy home against her will.
We thought having a puppy would be easy. They’re cute, the snuggle up to you and make little whimpering noises and they cling to you. That’s pretty cool right?
Unfortunately that phase wears off pretty fast when the real task of raising a dog starts in earnest. My wife is rarely wrong and in this instance she was spot on. She had some very valid points that have become more compelling with time:
- We travel a lot so what do you do with a puppy when you’re on the road – There are no easy or cost effective solutions to this question
- The puppy eats – a fact that we overlooked in our eagerness to bring him home and something that she reminds us of daily
- The puppy has a lot of energy which means the owners should have at least a fraction of the same energy in order to keep up with his shenanigans
- A puppy likes to chew on things – everything! Door jambs, chairs, shoes, sofa cushions, ankles, books, stereo speakers, remote controls, fingers and visitors (sometimes that’s a plus)
- A dog stinks – a lot! So every week, sometimes every day baths are required but getting any of my sons to do this regularly is about as hard as getting them to take their own showers – almost impossible.
The cleaning up, the replacing, the training, the time, the energy, the feeding, the cleaning up again is all enough to drive a family full of clueless dog owners crazy. If raising a child was tough, this might be ten times harder.
There is a silver lining somewhere. One day, (if he doesn’t run away) we will look back on this moment when he’s full grown, chasing away intruders, obediently sitting at my old feet near my rocker on the porch retrieving cans of Diet Coke from the cooler for me or steering grandchildren away from swift rivers and rescuing neighborhood kids from wildfires – we will say, ‘Thanks for being a part of our lives Suka.’
Until then, there’s a lot more cleaning, repairing, feeding and training to do and I’m not sure I have enough energy to do it.
On the bright side – I’m learning a lot of patience. I think?