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 probably did not research it well enough and ended up getting a lovely little 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 shoes, the trampoline cover and even the irrigation system as a result of our non-performance or lack of focused attention. He assaulted guests with a gusto: taking running leaps at them when relaxing with a coffee on the couch. He barked and jumped up enthusiastically at small children – showing them who’s boss. He dug up great big dinosaur bones and building rubble in the back yard whilst tunneling to China. Offending new plants in the garden were immediately attacked. He was 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 kindly disciplinary techniques with painstaking consistency. Training with treats was done. Dog whisperers got involved. Still we failed to love this dog in the way that he needed or something.
We needed a very different plan eventually. 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 retired owners who were able to dedicate 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 and keeps us entertained with his funny ways.
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.