When our children wanted a dog we had to think about it long and hard. We know. It’s a job. They wore us down and we started researching breeds. We did not do a good job in our research and ended up with a Beagle.
This first pet of ours was a force of nature. He demanded 200% from all of us and we just couldn’t keep up. He had the biting force of a hyena – determinedly chewing his way through the irrigation system as a result of our non-performance. He assaulted guests with a gusto: Taking running leaps at them reclining with drinks on the couch. Barking and jumping at small children – showing them who’s boss. Digging up great big dinosaur bones and building rubble in the back yard whilst tunneling to China. Attacking offending new plants. And loyal to a fault. The cleaning lady was his absolute favourite. She was greeted with great romping enthusiasm, jumping and scratching at her; and her ever smiling, loving him patiently – being made to feel so welcome.
We tried and tried and tried. The dog went on very many outings. An 8 metre long lead was used. We employed various disciplinary techniques with painstaking consistency. Dog whisperers got involved. Still we failed. So we started preparing the children. Long conversations about the dog’s happiness and our sanity ensued. Bargains were struck. We were all finally prepared mentally and found him a new home; complete with another Beagle friend. And owners dedicating focused and disciplined attention to him. People who could appreciate our lovely little dog fully, because they could meet his needs.
The second time around each child chose their perfect pet. A tiny little handbag puppy whose feet hardly ever touch the ground. And a gentle, lively little rescue. A quick learner who gives so much affection.
Oh the things we learnt from these pets of ours.
We learnt that a friend can become your boss if you don’t assert yourself.
We learnt that affection breeds affection. The more love goes around, the more love there is for everyone.
We learnt to put another’s needs before our own.
We learnt about training: Giving instruction and taking responsibility is a great confidence booster.
We learnt that stroking a pet can soothe the most anxious mind.
We learnt about slog. Picking up poop and puke is disgusting. It is not all hugs and roses.
We learnt about the joy of constant companionship. From a being who never judges. Who always forgives. Who is joyful in abundance.
So go ahead. Give in. A word of caution, though: Choose responsibly. The wrong pet…oi.