To Dog or Not to Dog…

ImageI am a dog person.  I have always been a dog person.  By that I mean I have always preferred dogs over cats.  Plus I’m allergic to cats.

I have a friend whose husband is an allergist; he once told me if you live with something you’re allergic to, it’s the same as getting allergy shots because your body will build up antihistamines against the thing that produce the histamines – in my case, cats.  But I don’t know… pollen and mold still get me…

My brother said “people have dogs; cats have people…”  He probably read it somewhere, so if you’re reading this and think I stole it, I didn’t.  My brother did and I take no responsibility for his actions – or misactions, as the case may be.  (Is that even a word?  “Misactions?” My spell check is telling me it’s not… The Oxford English Dictionary just added 5 or 6 “new words;” maybe they’ll add this one… but as usual, I digress.)

So dogs.  I am fortunate enough to live in a place that overlooks two lakes and open green space (when it isn’t white from snow, it’s green….) and people walk their dogs – even in the snow.  Dogs love snow!  They bounce and run and jump… they’re like little kids playing, and it looks like they are having so much fun!  Then there are the dogs that will run into the lake – if they’re not leashed, and ever though they are supposed to be on a leash about half of the dog-walkers ignore the rules – to chase the ducks.  Personally, I wouldn’t want my dog in that that water – do you have any idea how filthy water birds are?  And geese on top of the ducks.  Yuck.

Anyway, I’m a renter.  I moved to this area just last August, and decided to rent for a year (or more) to make sure I liked it here.  And I do like it here.  I love it here.  And I finally was able to get my landlord to give me permission to get not just one small dog, but two.  I have issues leaving a dog at home alone…do if there are two of them, they aren’t alone… and it’s good for dogs to have another dog.  They actually learn from each other.  And it socializes them.

But life keeps on happening.  I have to have surgery and get my back fixed.  A whole different blog.  But, when I recover from that, I seriously want to find a dog (or two) who can have a forever home with me. But, I can’t and won’t get a dog until I’m recovered from that, and that may be a while.

Why not get a dog?  Dogs are an expense.  There is food and toys and supplies and vet bills, and dogs get sick and they throw up on the carpet and hopefully don’t pee on it when you’re out because they get mad at you for leaving them alone…

But (there’s always a “but”), when you come home they are so happy to see you and they jump in your lap and lick your face all over (not always my favorite thing…).  They are companions who love you unconditionally – you are after all, their pack leader.   They cuddle with you and make you feel loved and happy and they’re funny when they play, and dogs generally bring a person company and joy.

So I need to really weigh the pros against the cons.  See, my last three – well, actually four – dogs didn’t work out.  Just before my husband died – before we knew he was going to suddenly become terminal from cancer – we adopted a very sweet little terrier mix.  His name was Calvin (that’s his picture – how can you not fall in love with that face?).  He bonded with me first because Don wasn’t home when the rescue lady brought him to the house.  But it didn’t take him long to trust Don.  He didn’t like men generally, and we figured he was most likely abused.  But after Don died, Calvin got sick, and maybe this makes me a terrible person, but I couldn’t deal with a sick dog after losing my husband.  But my vet found him a good home.  I’ll never forget his face when I handed him over to the vet.  He broke my heart.

Then in a about year, I adopted another dog from the shelter, but she growled at my baby grandson, and snapped at his brother, so she had to go back.  Grandchild v.s. dog?  Grandchildren will win every time.

So I waited awhile, and found two dogs who had to be adopted as a pair.  A beautiful husky mix, Bella, and her little side-kick yorkie mix, Ally.  Now, Bella was beautiful.  She was smart, she was so obedient, she was protective, and she had more fur than any dog I’ve ever met.  I brushed her daily, and she liked it.  Ally was kind of annoying, and if she got away from me, she took off.  But I’d tell Bella to “get Ally!” and she did.  She thought Ally was her puppy.  They were a wonderful pair together.  But then I moved in with my mom to take care of her because she couldn’t be alone, but she wanted to stay in her own home after my dad died.  The dogs didn’t work with my mom.  She couldn’t be around them because we were afraid she’d trip on one; they didn’t like her (and I blame my brother for that but that’s a long story, too…). And there was all that fur and the dogs were indoor dogs (I won’t have a dog that can’t come in the house).

So there’s a part of me that wonders if I can even risk getting another dog because what if it doesn’t work out?  And that leads to heartbreak not only for me, but for the dog.  They attach so readily.  So I’ve been thinking of fostering a dog.  And the only problem with fostering is that what if it’s a dog who has no manners at all and isn’t house trained? Since I rent this place, I’ll have to pay for any stains on the carpet, which isn’t such a big deal – if you get to them right away before it gets into the carpet padding.  But once it soaks through, it’s almost impossible to get the smell out (please correct me if I’m wrong).

After I had to let Bella and Ally go (they found homes but not together), a lot of people told me, please don’t get another dog.  And maybe they’re right.  Maybe I need to work at the shelter for a while before I take one on to care for at home.  Maybe I need to foster a few dogs and see if it’s the right thing; if I’m really up to the task.  But I so miss having a dog; I miss the company, the companionship and the love. And I like to take my dogs with me when I go places; in the car (but I hate to leave them alone in the car… they get so upset…); even in a store. Some stores don’t make a fuss if it’s a small dog in the cart.  I’ve even seen people with dogs in baby-like carriers on their chest!

So I think about the cons – what if I’m too sick to take the dog out for a walk?  Someone still has to do that; feed him/her, play with him/her… maybe i need an older dog who is on their last chance at adoption?  Senior dogs need homes, too.

So, dear readers, I want to ask your advice.  What do you think?

And yes, I actually have thought about a cat, but aside from my allergies, my landlords will allow a dog, but no cats!  And there are good reasons to have a cat, but that, too, is another story.