I had not one, but two home visits today with families that have recently acquired a puppy. Both were probably mutts, one short-haired with a sweet face and sad eyes, and the other a teeny, fluffy, Maltese-looking thing. Both pretty small for little ones to be handling.
At the first visit, the one with the fluffy pup, the not-even-two-year-old kept grabbing the poor thing around its neck. The child’s mother did nothing to stop this, so I had to show her, several times, how to hold the puppy under its front legs instead. But my instruction did nothing–every time she picked it up, it was around its tiny neck. And Fluffy only protested once with a barely-audible yelp. I swear, if I hadn’t been there, she would have killed the thing, and her mother probably wouldn’t have even noticed.
The second visit was with a slightly older child, but she, too, had a habit of picking the dog up by its neck. And when she wasn’t holding it around the neck, she was pulling at its front legs saying, “dance,” over and over again, until I thought she would rip something out of place and injure the sad-looking puppy. Again, I instructed her to be gentle and showed her how to hold the puppy without hurting it.
During both these visits, I had two thoughts*: One, I want a puppy. And two, we will never, ever get a puppy (or kitten, for that matter) when our kids are this young. It’s just asking for trouble. A two-year-old doesn’t understand how fragile another living thing is. Plus, it’s a lot of work on top of wrangling a toddler all day.
Hubby and I have always talked about getting a dog. Someday. Another one of those things that has to wait until we’re settled somewhere, have a house with a yard, and one of us (probably me) has the time and patience to train and care for one. And while puppies are adorable, I’ve never had one in my adult life, and tend to think getting a mature dog from a shelter is a better idea. Especially if we wait to get one until after we have kids.
Not that I necessarily want to wait. Infertility is such a lonely experience, and dogs are such great companions. I feel like, if Hubby ever does get a job, I’ll be by myself more often and–no offense to my cats (whom I love and am, in fact, sandwiched between right now)–I might need a little company. I do not, however, think that I can replace my need for a child with a puppy. Dogs fill an entirely separate purpose.
On an almost-completely-unrelated note, there is a conference in our city this week, and many of Hubby’s friends from grad school are in town to attend it. We just had dinner with a bunch of them, and I realized as we were talking that A) most of them have kids (and real jobs) by now, and B) everyone there either had cats or no pets at all.
I think there’s a reason for the latter. Cats are so low-maintenance. You can go out of town to a conference for a few days and pretty much leave them to fend for themselves.
As for the former, I’m just glad none of them asked when it was going to be our turn. Apparently they all got it out of their systems when they saw Hubby earlier in the week, though, and even he became annoyed with this question. And it’s not easy to annoy Hubby.
After this weekend, things should get back to normal. Hubby goes back to teaching his class and trying to find a job. I go back to being content with my cats for now. And we both just keep waiting.
*Actually, I had three thoughts. The third was that when my brothers and their families briefly lived together, and their children were just a couple of months apart (I think they were three at the time), they thought it would be a good idea to get a kitten. Until the day one of the kids threw the kitten down the stairs–with a very sad outcome. My niece, being only three at the time, had a very good excuse for the sudden passing of the kitten: “[Nephew’s name] didn’t catch it.” Yet another reason I will not be getting any small animals while my kids are still too young to understand consequences.