I am less and less a dog person

Whenever my family’s current dog dies, we’re done. I have always been more of a “dog person” and less of a “cat person”, but after two dogs that have been directly under my care, I think I have become more of a “neither person”.

spot_the_dogMy first dog’s name was Spot. He was a dalmatian. Appropriate name, if I say so myself. I got him when I was still in middle school. My family’s previous dog (Rover) died a year or so before, and I got it in my head that I wanted a dog of my own. I would feed him, walk him, train him, and pay for his vet bills myself. I got a job as a paperboy to help me make these financial commitments.

But even with training, Spot wasn’t a good dog. The truth of the matter is that he was exactly the dog that I trained him to be. He was clever (he figured out how to climb over a chain link fence while my family was away from the house), playful, and needy. A pretty good mirror for myself if I’m honest.

spot_the_caveman_eaterWhen I went off to college, I had to leave him behind. My absence exacerbated his neediness and he wound up going a bit insane. In the end, he needed to be put down.

I should have learned my lesson about dogs taking on the traits of their masters, but I’ve never been one to learn my lessons the first time around. So my wife and I got Cole, a black lab, upon purchasing a house that could accommodate a dog. And he has proven to be the black lab equivalent of Spot. Clever, playful, and needy.

On the upside, Cole is great around kids. The worst that he’s ever done is knock them over in his exuberance to play. But Cole has his downsides too. Like some black labs are wont to do, he’s developed food allergies that manifest as ear infections. To treat this, we have him on a special diet of really expensive dog food and take him to the vet regularly for ear flushes and medicine because my kids don’t understand the concept of not feeding him which negates the special diet completely.

And then there’s the walks that he needs to go on every night and in every weather. He often wakes us up in the middle of the night for no reason. And he sheds like it’s going out of style.

I realize that this post is a bit complainy, so let’s slap a moral on it. I’m not going to tell anyone not to get a dog. But I am going to ask that you think that decision through.

My wife and I made a commitment to take care of Cole until he dies a natural or necessary death, but it is probably wrong to look forward to that day. Before you get a pet, think not only about the lifespan of that pet, but also about the type of owner he or she will imitate. Are you the type of person that you’d enjoy in animal form?

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