I am not an animal person. I don’t mind if you are, and am happy for you if you have a pet that you love. I just would rather not have them. It isn’t so much that I don’t like animals, it’s just that I would rather not have them in my house and have to take care of them. I have never had an animal that has brought me more joy than annoyance.
We have a cat … something that wasn’t my decision, but when you are married you make sacrifices and give and take, and we were only married for a little over a year, and I gave in. She’s been an easy, nice cat. But having a cat involves hairballs, litter boxes, cat food, and meowing early in the morning. 16 years later, I know she’s at her end, and of course I’ll be sad when she passes, but personally I would have preferred to have never had her. Like I said, for me, the annoyances were always greater than the joys.
But the boys absolutely LOVE her! And she has let them do anything with her. So I guess for me, having a pet is kind of like watching Barney (or Yo Gabba Gabba for you younger moms) … you hate it, but you put it on because you know your child loves it.
The boys and my husband wanted a dog. And I adamantly refused. Day after day, year after year. But then last spring, in a moment of weakness, I read an email a friend sent about a dog she was fostering. On a whim, I sent her a message asking about the dog. We went to see it, and of course, they loved her. I think my husband was shocked that I was actually considering it. But something in my gut just told me that it was time and this was the dog for us.
All I can say is:
Not for me … she’s a great, easy dog … but for me, I’d still prefer to not have any fur in my house, and to not have a dog wanting to climb up on my bed in the morning, and to not be licked all over, and to not spend money on the vet or food, and to not have to make sure we are home in time to take her out, or to walk her before I leave for work. For me, even though she is really cute, and good, and nice, and can run 3 miles with me, the annoyances still outweigh my personal joy.
But the annoyances do not outweigh the joy she brings the boys, especially my oldest (the autistic one).
Here’s what adding a 4 legged member to our family has done for him:
- He has become more confident. She has decided that she belongs to him. She goes to sleep in his room. She sits by his side. She sits outside the bathroom door and waits for him when he’s in there. My son has been rejected by peers over and over again. But he was “chosen” by her.
- He lights up when he comes home and sees her. He knows how to relate to her and how to spend time with her. There are peers who haven’t rejected him and who offer him friendship, but he doesn’t seem to know how to be a friend and needs to be coached. But being with her is natural to him.
- My self-proclaimed inside, inactive kid goes for tons of walks now. If he is home, she will NOT let anyone else walk her. So he has to step away from Minecraft and go outside for a walk.
- My guy who had to be forced to do simple things around the house has become more responsible. He doesn’t wait for her to “ask” to go out. But he comes home everyday from school and takes her for a walk. Around the same time that we got her, he has become more helpful. He empties the dishwasher, puts away his laundry, brings in trash cans, all without being asked or told. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that they happened at the same time.
I’m sure there’s more things that I could list, but I can’t think of them right now.
What it comes down to is this … he says that his 2 best friends in the whole world are his cat and his dog. Being a non-animal person, it makes me a little sad to hear him say that. I want him to have good friends that are boys his age. But, the fact is that he doesn’t have a human best friend. And so I’m glad that I put my family’s desire above my own and had a moment of weakness 16 years ago when we got the cat, and 3 ½ months ago when we got the dog. Because like I said: best decision ever! (And who knows, perhaps one day, I’ll come to realize that they also bring me, personally, more joy than annoyances!)