“To be or not to be, that is the question.” No, I am not revisiting the classics or trying to find the deeper meaning in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I am repeating what I have been thinking about after endless hours of Sophia begging to be a dog owner.
It seems a day does not go by without her asking, or better yet whining and begging, to get a dog. And I quote, “You are torturing me, you will not get me a cute little harmless, puppy.” I do not deny that small, little dogs can be adorable; that cute, little dogs can be reliable, trustworthy friends; that cute, cuddly, furry dogs can be wonderful family members.
All that said, dogs are also a huge responsibility.
Do you mothers and fathers out there understand my reluctance? Have you heard these pleas and been able to resist giving in? Or, on the other hand, are you a proud, happy dog owner who couldn’t image life without man’s best friend.
Our house is not totally pet -free. We do have fish and a gerbil. These are animals that need a clean living environment and food and water. The gerbil can be played with, but for the most part he is happy to just run on his wheel and romp around his large cage.
These pets I can deal with. They are pets that Sophia can take care of by herself. The rest of the family lends a hand when needed, but since they are not pets that need constant attention, they fit in perfectly with our lifestyle.
Now a dog, that is a completely different story. There is the training, the walking, the cleaning up after, the brushing and the veterinarian visits.
Oh, and did I mention the vacation pet sitting when we are away from home?
I am not only talking about a vacation, vacation where a professional house sitter or kennel would come to the rescue. I am also talking about those summer days when we decide a family day trip to the beach would be fun. You certainly cannot leave Fido home alone all day long to take care of himself and bringing him along is not always feasible.
Have any of you gotten a dog only to realize they are more responsibility than your children or you can handle? Are there days when you feel like the dog is more work than pleasure?
Sophia just does not understand these intricacies of dog ownership. She sees friends and family with their dogs under normal, everyday circumstances. It’s fun to go visiting and help take care of the family dog. Walking and frolicking with a friend’s dog is vastly different than having one who relies on you 24/7.
I know some of my reluctance comes from never having a dog growing up. I had allergies to dogs, which, by all accounts I have outgrown, so this precluded my family from getting a dog. My brothers were told, however, that once I went away to college they could get one. I think as I went out the front door the dog was taking my spot through the back door!
My lack of experience has a great deal to do with my fervent opposition to having a dog join our family. My husband loves dogs, but also understands the responsibility inherent in getting one. It just would not work well with our lifestyle.
I also know that the novelty of walking, caring for and playing with a dog may wear off when homework becomes overwhelming, sports season kicks in and friends come a calling. I do not want to be the one who ultimately becomes resentful and the dog suffers because of this. I have seen this happen one too many times to know it is a reality.
So back to that Shakespeare quote, “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Scholars may ponder what Shakespeare was thinking when he wrote this, but now that have written it and weighed the pros and cons having a dog join our family is not to be.