Getting a Dog
I‘m not a cat person. I don’t dislike them; I just love dogs. Yesterday we went to an open air mall to walk around and grab a coffee. Parked outside the coffee shop was the Boulder Humane Society‘s mobile pet adoption truck. Standing outside the truck on the curb were three adoptable dogs. Being the sucker for a lonely looking dog that I am I stopped to pet them. That was a big mistake. I had my boys with me and they instantly wanted a dog (which secretly made me happy because I was a little concerned they’d end up being cat people). That got me to thinking. What is it about kids and dogs? Why do kids seem to be attracted to dogs? It came to me that kids love dogs for the same reason I love dogs. I love them because they don’t judge me. Kids spend most of their time being taught how to act and what not to do; in essence they get judged much more than grownups. It must be nice to have a happy dog that doesn’t do that. The dog just wants to be pet and hugged and taken out for walks with a ball. After I finished thinking about it, I almost got one. Almost.
Being a kid can be lonely I imagine. Actually, I don’t need to imagine; I remember. When I was a kid I felt like nobody understood me. I couldn’t express myself because I didn’t have the words. My brain worked just fine; I just didn’t have the maturity to express what I was thinking. Therefore I was misunderstood — a lot. Norman Rockwell seems to understand this more than most people. Type Norman Rockwell Dogs into Google search and see what comes up. It’s clear to me that he understood the special relationship between people and dogs, and especially the relationship between kids and dogs. I speculate that dogs and kids relate to each other in very simple and basic terms — they need each other. Some adults need dogs too. Dogs will hang out with you no matter how ugly you are or how bad your breath stinks. They don’t care if you swear or if you’re a slob. They stick by you through thick and thin. Kids don’t usually stink or swear (let’s hope not at least), but they do get judged a lot, and they do need companions who they can hug when they feel lonely and misunderstood.
I’m pretty lazy, and my kids are too young to be particularly helpful when it comes to the real work of taking care of a dog. There are dogs for lazy people (like English Bulldogs for one), and we’d certainly be able to share responsibility for a dog. Besides, the sense of pride some kids get from caring for a living thing is priceless. My first job was as a dog-sitter to my neighbor’s collie when I lived in New Hampshire. I went every day to feed the dog and play with it (I forget if it was male or female). I would walk up the hill and sit in my neighbor’s garage and watch the dog eat. Then I would pet it for 15 minutes and play catch a little before going back home. It was only for 4 or 5 days on a couple different occasions, but I remember feeling a huge sense of pride from being responsible, and the dog seemed to like me. That being said, I had another friend who was supposed to take care of a neighbors dog for a week, and he neglected his duties ,and the dog died (that was a pretty big deal around town for a while). It makes me wonder why random neighbors seem to think kids make good caretakers of living things. I did a good job, but lots of kids don’t. The point here is a bit of a no-brainier. Not all kids should have a pet. Duh.
I shall not belabor the point. Owning a dog is rewarding on several levels. It teaches good kids to be better kids by imbuing them with responsibility. Dogs are also non-judgmental and loving. Kids sometimes need a companion who understands them better than their parents do. I was so close to adopting a dog yesterday. I think I might have written this article to either convince or dissuade myself from the idea of a dog. I can’t say I’m completely convinced that now is the perfect time for a dog, but some time in the future I will go to the pound and get one.