Let me say at the outset that I happen to like dogs. Always have. In fact, I really can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t been a dog or some other pet around (or lived with my parents who were also dog lovers).
I got the first dog that was “mine” during my senior year in college. I was 22 years old, single, and lonely. I was given Lexi as my birthday gift that year since I was living in a mobile home owned by my parents and wouldn’t have any landlord trouble having a pet.
From the moment I got Lexi she was my baby. The term “fur baby” hadn’t been coined yet, but she certainly was. And once I graduated and took my first teaching job, my parents became my doggie daycare. I’d drop Lexi off at their house on my way to work and pick her up in the evening on my way home. It actually was good practice for when the time came that I had to get kids to a babysitter on my way to work.
When the time came that I decided to get married, I was lucky enough to find a man who was also an animal lover. Although he did draw the line at Lexi sleeping at the foot of our bed. He said the bed wasn’t big enough for both of them and that I had to make a choice. Fortunately, young love and hormones made that an easy choice.
By the time my kids came along, Lexi had turned into an old dog and eventually she passed away in her sleep one day. I found her on the patio when I went to let her inside the house. She looked like she’d just laid over and gone to sleep. Even though she was old and sick, I still grieved at the loss of my first “baby”.
For a few years we didn’t have a dog in the house. We did, however, have several turtles and a hedgehog, so we weren’t completely pet free. But finally the time came that it was time to get another dog. The kids were big enough that we felt it was time they learned responsibility and how to take care of another living thing. (The turtles and hedgehog were pretty low maintenance animals!).
Duke was a rescue dog that my hubby found at the pound. He was a young adult male and the entire family took to him immediately. He’s had his quirks – as the rest of us do – but he’s been a good dog for the last 14 years.
The passing years are now showing very clearly. Duke’s coat is turning gray and his face is completely white. He doesn’t see or hear very well and we’re pretty sure he’s getting senile. We know his days are numbered since we estimate his age to be between 16-18 years old.
And we know that we’ll miss our beloved family pet when the day comes that he departs this earth. But we’ve also decided that he’s the last pet we’re going to have.
The kids have all grown up and are mostly gone from home so it’s just my hubby and me. The one child who is still with us won’t be here forever. And once Duke is gone, we just don’t want to make the commitment to take on another dog.
Because getting a dog means that you must be prepared to make what’s probably a fifteen year commitment to the animal – and we’re not prepared to do that at our stage of life. It’s not that we’ve quit liking dogs or any such reason. We simply do not want to the responsibility that another animal would entail.
I guess you could say that we’ve been there and done that.
I am actually looking forward to a time in my life when I have nothing else that I have to take care of. I don’t want to have to make arrangements for a dog every time I choose to leave the house for the day or if I plan to be gone for any length of time.
I also don’t want the mess that goes along with housebreaking or keeping an animal. I’ve cleaned up enough dog “accidents” over the years and I’m done. I also don’t want the expanse that having an animal requires. You know the ones – shots, food, toys, treats, etc. I don’t have any grandkids (yet) so the thought of spending the “dog money” on something else sounds really nice.
But what all of the reasons have in common is my desire to have less stress in my life.
I know. I can just hear the reasons that having a pet is good for one’s mental health. A pet gives you something to be connected to and is companionship in your later years. I’ve also heard how pet owners are healthier than non-pet owners. And I know that those are valid reasons for us to get another pet once Duke is gone.
But it’s just a stress that I’m choosing to eliminate from my life.
Now I’ll admit that I believe one should ‘never say never’ because those kind of statements have a way of coming back to bite you. It’s entirely possible that after a period of time without a pet in the house, either my hubby or I will get the urge to have another one. And if we do, that’s fine. We’ll cross that bridge if and when we get there.
But it’s not something that I foresee (although I’m the first to admit that my fortune-telling skills suck!).