How I, a cat person, ended with a puppy sleeping in my lap

Tuesday, December 9, 2014



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In our early dating dance my now husband and I quickly established the commonality that we did not consider ourselves dog people. Maybe cat people, but definitely not dog people. Neither of us had owned a dog in adult life and neither of us wanted to own one in the future. Check!  Some other commonalities were established and we married. Even when we moved out of the city and got a garden we stayed true to our conviction and got a cat, not a dog. Yet I write this with a puppy sleeping in my lap.

I grew up with Dachshunds in my childhood home, normally two at any given time. They were highly territorial and because of that prone to barking, nipping at visitors and running off after wildlife. I was responsible for walking them after school, an activity I did not particularly care for and I always considered them my parents’ dogs, not mine. In addition to our own dogs, I also walked a beautiful golden retriever Loui. Loui had a deep love for water and no matter how hard I tried, he frequently managed to get away from me and jump into the forest lake. Once in the lake I had to spend hours coaxing him out with Digestive Biscuits, his second love. So when I moved away from home I was simply “dogged” out. Yet I write this with a puppy sleeping in my lap.

We had our son and when over the years he asked for a dog, we rationally explained why he could not have one; the serious responsibility and commitment, the impact to our cat and our packed schedules, as well as the fact that we are not dog people. He was never relentless in his inquiries and always took our answers at face value. We could easily have stayed a cat, a frog and a fish family. Yet I write this with a puppy sleeping in my lap.

So as you likely figured out by now my son got a dog against some pretty poor odds. In fact my husband is still baffled by my change of heart. It was not because my husband started to the read; “Where the red fern grows”, which is a fabulous story about a boy and his dogs, and my son got all emotional. And it was not because I felt competitive when rereading; “Just let me lie down”, which captures how the great editor of Real Simple magazine manages her career, three boys and… yes… a dog. 

My son got a dog because I never want to look back and have regrets about my parenting choices, at least not on the big ticket items. I want my son to have a companion for the rest of his years at home, a companion who will bestow love upon him every time they are together and I want my son to learn what it means to care for his very own dependent animal, especially because you can’t always put yourself first. And then finally I wanted to be able to address my son’s valid point; Why should he sleep alone when we the adults do not?  And that is exactly why I write this with a puppy sleeping in my lap.

“A dog will teach you unconditional love. If you can have that in your life, things won’t be too bad.”
 – Robert Wagner