The No-Dog Side of the Fence

the face of a dog is seen through the fence, in black and white

I sit on the no-dog side of our fence.

Allow me to explain.

My children have been begging us to get a dog. My husband seems to align himself on their side, when it comes to adoption. It comes naturally to him, I say.. He’s owned a dog.

But I haven’t. Not in this lifetime, at least.

So here I am, all alone, on the no-dog side of the fence, looking through the rails at the rest of my family.

What is it that holds me back from getting a pet?

I’ve tried on several occasions to truly understand my reasons. I delve into a few here, in this post, and one in particular, that stands out.

To me, being the matriarch of our family, and incidentally the only female in our household, there’s the obvious ‘I will be the one who will ultimately care for the dog’ issue. This is a given. walking the dog out in the frigid cold as my responsibility is a given if we get a dog. Picture shows a girl walking her dog out at night, with only a single street lamp on.I will clearly be the one to inherit this role, to get the leash on, and head out to negative degree weather, walking the dog cross our frigid New Jersey lawn, shaking my hand out of a warm gloved encasing to for the purpose of scooping up poop. And then holding that hand, outstretched in front of my body, for the remaining duration of the bone chilling walk.

Fun times ahead.

But that’s just a bump in the road, really.

Taking on a new being into our family is certainly not new in its concept, as we’ve had child after child, all while navigating medical careers, and life in the ‘burbs.

I know. I know. The life-in-the-burbs bit presents itself with a whole new world of blog topic options. 

So what is it that really holds me back from getting a dog?

I’ve always loved dogs, and begged my own mother to have one as a child. I craved their loyalty and their unconditional love. Not to mention those cute furry faces.

I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what the issue was for my doggie cold-feet. Until I read the post This Was Our Dog. If you have a few minutes to go through this, prepare yourself, because it’s worth your time. But be warned: kleenex need be handy. I mean, the entire box.

Ah. That’s Why I’m Hesitating: Death

I was afraid of taking in a dog, caring for him like he’s one of our own, feeling his love, and ours, only to have to say goodbye at the end.

That always it inevitably comes down to, the end.

That’s the part that ultimately scares me.

It reminds me of the saying, “Parents aren’t supposed to bury their child.” In a sense, this is the same thing.

It’s essentially taking on another being, raising him, and knowing all along that he will pass before you. How could I bare to take this on? Or even worse, to do it to my kids?

I spoke about this with a good friend, and we dissected the topic together. She had taken in a dog for her family, nurtured him, loved him as one of her own. Her boys’ hearts were crushed, not to mention her own bout of depression, when he was hit by a car and passed away.

She then up and took in another.

Why She Does It

Why would I buy a dog for my children, I asked her, when I’m already bracing myself for his death? Dogs live an average of 8 to 18 years, compared to a human’s 79.

She explained her take in a very interesting way, drawing from her personal life. She was traumatized at age 10 by the murder of her father and it was, by far, the worst period of time in her life.

“I wasn’t prepared for death,” she said. “But a pet would have prepared me. Owning a pet is a wonderful adventure. It allows you to experience an intense love for another life, and when the time comes for its loss, you learn to grieve. Children learn from these life lessons, and though it may be hard for them, it makes them stronger, and prepares for some of the harshness experienced in life.”

It got me thinking that maybe there’s more to the process than the heartache at the end.

There’s the immense love and experience that the dog brings with him, as he enriches the lives of those around him and teaches them not only how to be loved, as only a dog knows how to provide unconditionally, but also how to give it.

an adorable small dog stands up on its front paws, its ears perked up in attentiveness.

Maybe it will soon be time to reconsider. For now, let’s keep that between us.



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