Sunday, 8 November 2009

Epsilon reasons for not having a dog

Dirty, messy, smelly, expensive to keep, particularly if veterinary care is required, need walking frequently, many want lots of exercise which you have to give them however busy or ill you are, limits your freedom to go away, has to be cleared up after unless you can always walk in the countryside, sits on all the best furniture and if, cruelly, you don't allow that then it leans on it instead, making it grubby in a strip a few inches above the ground. Claw marks on the doors. Toothmarks on the chair legs and holes in the towels if you have a puppy, as well as stains on the carpets and puddles on the floor. All combine to make an excellent case for not having a new young dog, although of course a dog you've had for a long time, when you know each other's ways and it's trained, to a greater or lesser degree, to the extent you're happy with, is fine and you tend to forget the difficult bits.

But. Be without a dog? Couldn't bear it. It's worth every minute of it.

I'm depressingly sensible and I've explained already (albeit in March) how it came about that we didn't acquire a puppy in the last few years and why I'm not looking to get one now for Tilly's sake. And I know it wouldn't make sense to have a dog that needed a lot of walks before I have, and am recovered from getting, a new hip (though I reserve the right to be entirely silly and get one anyway) but simply, when it comes down to it, if a dog needs a home, I'll give it a home and love it, and when our Tilly dies, which I hope won't be any time soon, I am sure we won't be without another dog for long.

There are enough indications, after all, that generally speaking people with pets are happier and more relaxed than those without, though I can't believe that anyone would solemnly buy a cat or dog with the intention of being happy unless they actively wanted one anyway. I do know people who've bought a dog to make sure they have an incentive to get more exercise, but again you have to want one. There's no doubt that a dog gives added security, both to the owners personally and to the house where it's kept.

It's still simpler than that, however. If you're sitting alone in a room reading this, now think of doing it with a warm body on your lap or leaning against your leg. Imagine glancing down and seeing the warm brown (more likely than not) eyes looking at you with total trust and devotion. Think that, however much the exercise will do you good, you wouldn't dream of going for a walk on a rainy winter's night, but that you'll do it without hesitation for the sake of your pet, and actually you'll enjoy it and feel the better for it. Remember that, however bad you feel, whether through loneliness, depression, illness or because you've done something you regret, your dog will love you just the same, stupid loyal creature that he is. He will be on your side, no questions asked, even if you lost your temper at his naughtiness a few minutes ago.

I like cats and I have an affinity with horses, but it'll always be a dog for me.

19 comments:

martina said...

Makes perfect sense to me. The dogs are in the room and supposedly napping. That is until they hear the treat jar or sense a dog friend is walking down the street. Semper fido...

Z said...

Even better is having several dogs all around you, Martina.

julie said...

Well said, Z. I never had a dog until I met the b.h., and I know my life would never be the same without either.

Bodhisattva Harlem Mama said...

contemplating getting a dog...want the love, but not the work. :-) But they are so wonderful!

Dave said...

Not sure how I would have coped with a dog during the last couple of week's illness.

sablonneuse said...

That post put the arguments very clearly. I like dogs and took on a 'rescue' collie cross puppy some years ago. It was a complete disaster because we were useless dog owners. She was a difficult dog but not in the least 'malicious'. We took her to puppy school where she misbehaved - even for the trainer - and then paid to have her trained at a kennels for a few weeks but in the end I became afraid to take her out for walks because she went for cars and people and I couldn't restrain her. She was rehomed with a lady who could handle her and I was pleased to learn that she settled happily with her new owner.
It has to be cats for me!

Pat said...

I do miss the blind devotion but all in all - age, responsibility for another living being,picking up poo, limitations on the exercise we could give it and the utter devastation when they depart - we decided that dear short-legged Jock would be our last.

badgerdaddy said...

Millie's changed all our lives in the four months she's been with us. And there's every chance we might be taking in a couple of rescue cats too, and another dog that needs a home in Dec/January... The place will be a zoo!

Z said...

The post I wrote back in March laid out the dogs I wouldn't have and why - I prefer a mongrel, because so many dogs are have had ill health bred into them, and besides I'd be intimidated by a dog with a better pedigree than I have. Specifically, I don't want a terrier, especially a Jack Russell (more courage than sense and they disappear down rabbit holes), a greyhound (no rapport), a Springer Spaniel (they need too much exercise and are working dogs and misbehave when bored), a very large (don't want a dog bigger than me, and very big dogs don't live that long) or a very small (I'd fall over it) dog. To Springer Spaniels, I'd probably add collies - they can be hard work too as they're best as working dogs.

When my mother was contemplating whether to get another dog, I said that she'd be miserable without one and that if she died first, I'd look after it, which I did. Proved to me that I don't find greyhounds doggish enough and, sweet though he was, I wouldn't choose another. And, of course, if you love dogs you know when it wouldn't be the kindest thing to own one.

Dave, you'd have had to ask for help. People love to rally round and be friendly and helpful - you know that's true, you're a good friend yourself. I'm not sure that you find it as easy to accept help as you do to give it.

Z said...

Won't it be fun, Badge?

Dave said...

I think I can accept help. I don't like asking for it though.

Z said...

Well put and a nice distinction. It's hard to do, to start with, but I think it's actually a kind thing to do. And "Please will you help me" goes against many instincts, but it's a Good Thing.

Dandelion said...

Well, I'm very happy that I haven't got a dog. Or a cat. Or any other of God's creatures. Suits me quite fine.

By the way. How come, if you've really got a dog, how come you hardly ever mention walking it?

Z said...

I need something to snuggle, Dand.

With all our rolling acres that you mentioned the other day, Tilly is able to walk herself. I used to walk the dogs, when we had three of them, last thing every night, but we just let them out during the day. And in again, and out and in. Many times. A

Z said...

Oh. Where did that A come from?

Four Dinners said...

Maximus Spittimus is a cat who thinks he's a dog....apart from not barking he fetches when you throw and sits when I say "Sit" (Barbara Woodhouse style).

All our cats are loopy...goes with the turf I suppose...

Z said...

We had a dog when I was a child (Simon de Montfort, not the Father of the English Parliament but the Father of Practically Everything Else) who behaved like the cat that walked by himself. He ruled the roost more than any animal I've ever known

luckyzmom said...

It wouldn't be the kindest thing for us to own a dog right now.

Anonymous said...

The vet told me (after my wire fox terrier died of old age) not to get another terrier. Why? Because I'm too much like one! Well, I'm high energy and like to dig holes (while gardening).
Now we have Utility/Nonsporting dogs, much calmer fit in the home. The vet was correct.