Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Favorite Posts About My Dog Day, Part 2

No, You Cannot Have Your Own Flying Poop Factory...Until You're Ten

Pets are a big responsibility. It takes dedication and compassion to care for the life of an animal. Growing up, my family had a lot of different pets. They were mostly small animals because dogs and cats caused allergy issues. We had parakeets, hamsters, fish, turtles, a rabbit, a frog and even a snake at one point. While the pets varied, one thing was consistent. If it was a pet I or my brothers wanted, we had to take care of it. My parents would help to a degree, but there had to be a significant commitment from at least one of us to get the pet in the door.

This is why my sons are not allowed to get the parakeet or hamster they have been asking for. I know who will end up taking take care of it. I have enough trouble finding a matching pair of socks so adding animal turds to my day, despite how small or tightly compacted they might be, is not something I’m prepared for.

Yes, we own a dog. The dog, however, was here before the children, and as far as its “leavings” are concerned, he makes them outside. Do I have to clean it? Of course, but at least it’s not inside my house.

Furthermore, if comparisons to the current pet are to be made, my sons want almost nothing to do with my dog. Every now and then they will play with him, but for the most part, they tell him how badly he smells or how loud he is when he barks. I’ve tried assigning them the responsibility of letting the dog in and out as needed and this is routinely ignored. He will sit by the back door barking that whiny bark that cuts off suddenly almost as if he thinks something is going to slip out if he put too much effort into it. Meanwhile, the boys sit twenty feet away, watching cartoons.

It is beginning to sound like I’m criticizing my kids. I’m not. They say wisdom is knowing your own limitations. I know that I do not want to take care of a small caged animal of any variety at this point. I also know that my sons are not quite old enough to care for an animal on their own. Thus, it is really my own shortcomings that lead me to this decision. I know that I am currently too self-centered to care for another animal.

When I think of owning another pet and what a low level of commitment I would have, all sorts of images go through my head. I can see row after row of tiny twig crosses in the backyard, marking the graves of all the hamsters who had bravely gone before Mr. Nibbles the Fifth. I can imagine falling out of a tree as I attempt to capture the parakeet I let slip out the door and then, years later, swearing that group of bird sitting on the telephone wire looks like a cross between parakeet and pigeon. These same birds would surely have it out for me and would choose my car as the first one to be decorated by their poop. I see having to explain to my boys why their last twelve fish have just been pulled from the drain by the plumber when I told them they had gone to Fishy Heaven.

“Maybe they got lost on their way.”

“Obviously, they were trying to escape. They must have been convict fish. I’ll have to have a talk with the pet store.”

“They must have been bad and this is Fishy Hell.”

See, none of those work.

I’m not the kind of guy who can change his mind about a pet and get rid of it, either. If I found some other sucker…er, nice…person to take the animal off my hands, I would totally project my own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy into the blank expression that it gave me upon my last look at it. I can’t, in good faith, subject an animal to that kind of emotional baggage. And if it were the type of animal that could be released into the wild, images of it getting scooped up by some predator as soon as it was out of my sight would haunt me. I’m fairly certain I’d be wandering through a forest preserve in my pajamas in the middle of the night, lantern in hand, sobbing as I shout, “Slithers! Slithers, come home! I take back everything! I promise three feeder goldfish a day if you’ll just come home!” The bear mauling I would then receive would only serve me right.

You see, it’s really out of concern for the well being of animals in general that I won’t let my kids get another pet. I’m a pet-related accident waiting to happen. I can’t do this to any innocent animals.

I just care so much.

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