Monday, November 2, 2009
Wanted :Old Dogs and Happy Hearts.
My children love dogs. They have many conversations planning what type they would like to get. Currently, one twin's up for Black, The other's for Spotty. They have decided on names (Daisy and Max) and fascinated with the concept of Doggy Daycare. They read books about dogs and dog care and can tell you the whereabouts of the local vet.
The irony of all this is that my young children are terrified of dogs. If the twins are out and hear a dog bark, they're up into my arms in a flash, blocking their ears. My youngest son actually quivers. Teenager and middle son are mature enough now not to flinch, but they had their day too when they were younger.
Why is this so? I cannot explain it, except to add when I was small, I too was terrified of strange dogs. My grandparents had a succession of gorgeous mutts that I tormented mercilessly played with. But I still remember the gut-twisting fear I felt if I had to go near a dog that I didn't know. I can't remember run-in's with vicious dogs or any other psychological traumas. It was just always that way. At least until I got older and bigger than most of them. I still don't like dogs invading my personal space (ie "licky" or "sniffy"ones) and the odour of dog is one of the most pervasive I know.
So here we are, at an impasse. Will owning a dog be all my children expect it to be? Or will the delicious sense of expectation be swallowed by the smelly reality of looking after a live animal.
I know, I know. Go on, you meanie, you say. Get a dawg for those poor mites. Every child should grow up with a pet ... Ok, OK! I will ... eventually.
It's just that ...I'm afraid to get ... attached. There! My dirty secret is out.
Every pet I've ever had has met it's maker in distinctly unusual ways, despite my ardent care. My guinea pig ate its dish, instead of the juicy greens atop - Rigormortis in the morning. The fish got untreatable fungus. My budgies fell off their perches, for reasons known only to themselves, to be discovered later, cold and stiff. My parrots, found trapped in the laundry basket, ran away a few weeks later, never to be seen again. The cat (stray - claimed by me when it took up residence in our shed) died, giving birth. A later guinea pig inherited from the previous preschool teacher suddenly developed fatal kidney troubles.
A few years ago, my son desperately wanted a bird. Surely it will be OK, I thought. We researched bird species and came up with a cockatiel. The internet described it as tough and hardy, yet amusing and affectionate. Almost guaranteed to live 25 years or more. GREAT, I thought, it can outlive me! Three weeks later it's DEAD - of an unforeseeable metabolic disorder.
I could go on and on with these examples. I am a pet JINX. Do not bring your animals near me, for hear ye, hear ye, my presence marks the Valley of Death for all animals.
And how I suffer. Because I love animals. They have cute little feathers or soft downy fur. They snuggle up to you and tell you how beautiful you are, how much they love you. And I lose my heart. My son named the cockatiel "Sparkles" and this was just right, Because this little guy was so bright and chirpy. I had a quiet little weep for him, and for my kids. who howled for weeks.
Yeah, Yeah, give me that talk about teaching your kids about the great Circle of Life. Phooey to you. I don't want no circle. I want a pet that hangs around long enough to use up the first bag of feed.
What about you?
Did you have pets as a child? As an adult?
Did you have a favourite?
Help me out in the Great Pet Debate.