Don’t worry, there’s a happy ending.
The Pet Dilemma
For reasons outside of my control, we have not had a dog or cat or any kind of furry cuddly pet for 12 years. I agree, it was horrible and shocking and sad. Well just before the pandemic came to our awareness and reality (for some it’s not there yet), we convinced my mother in law that we absolutely needed a pet. Not any old kind of pet, but a dog pet.
Months before, I worked up the chutzpah to demand a pet for our household. It started after my daughter made a house for a pill bug she caught. Then she named him and wanted to know what to feed him. It broke my heart.
Then she started catching lizards and convinced us to keep one. Then two. When she caught a third and 2 baby lizards, I drew a big fat line. You can catch them. You can host them for a day. You can hold a baby lizard party. BUT, and I know you shouldn’t start sentences with but, but you can only keep two at a time overnight. It broke my heart and I lost my mind.
Then I told the family we were getting a pet and get this – I didn’t care what they thought, this was happening.
I compromised and we researched rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, ferrets (illegal here), capybara, and hamsters. I wasn’t thrilled with any of them (except the capybara and they were out of our budget and quasi-legal). There were other problems: We didn’t have space. They weren’t cuddly. They didn’t listen well. Basically, they weren’t a dog and each one of them was a forced compromise. The entire situation angered me because what we really wanted was a dog and not a stand in compromise tiny pet.
Baby Step Pets
Mid-go around deciding between guinea pig or hamster, our neighbor comes over (pre-pandemic) to say goodbye, she’s going off to college. We chat and she only has one last thing to do that’s been worrying her. Her college dorm doesn’t allow pets and she had been trying to find a responsible safe owner for months. She didn’t trust her friend because one of her hamsters died under mysterious circumstances. One visit and a half hour later, we found ourselves the proud owners of two dwarf hamsters. They were cute. They were cuddly. They came with cages and were free. They didn’t take up too much space. Best of all, they were friendly!
Life was great for a few months. Everyone was happy. Mostly. My kid devoured her hamsters with attention. She couldn’t get enough holding, feeding, touching, talking, and playing with them.
What she really needed was a dog. At this point I’d even take a cat. For the record, I like both, but dog is my go to choice. I slowly and gently dropped a few words into my daughter’s ear on how to make this happen. “Ask Grandma.” “Tell Grandma you want a dog.” “Promise Grandma you will take care of the dog, clean up after the dog, train the dog, and feed the dog.” If that doesn’t work, “Beg Grandma.” “Whisper to her how much having a dog would remind her of her when she is gone.” (Grandma is on hospice and doctors said she had weeks to live two years ago.) Conniving? Yes. Callous? No.
Weeks before Christmas, Grandma leaned over and whispered to me, “Do you think Kaylee might want a dog for Christmas?” I died. Then she topped it off with, “Do you think $500 would be enough?” I came back to life. $500 sounded outrageous for a dog. I grew up with puppies in boxes hanging out in front of grocery stores and parks, free for the taking. I replied, “She would LOVE it! That’s a great idea!”
I’m convinced Grandma changed her mind because she thought she would die in the next two weeks. It’s been a few weeks shy of a year. We found our dog. Kaylee is happier than a Labrador in water. My husband is happy. I’m happy. Even Grandma talks to and about the dog all the time.
Now we’re down to one tortoise, two lizards, three dwarf hamsters, four fish tanks, one pond with fish and a frog, and one well loved dog.
One day while playing with the dog my daughter smiled at me with a smile wider than Texas and yelled, “Man, I LOVE THIS DOG!”
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