Monday, February 1, 2016

The Wife & I Survive A Brush with a Major Life Change (Not the actual pooch)
My wife and I had a bit of a scare this weekend. Late Sunday afternoon, we found ourselves eye-to-eye with one of those life-altering changes that always seem to come up unexpectedly. It was one of those moments when all of the planning and precautions went out the window and we were left staring down a hard life turn that had arrived much sooner than we’d ever expected.

We nearly adopted a puppy.

I know. It’s one of those things you hear about happening to other couples and you think you’re being careful to avoid it. Then, next thing you know, you’re in a pet store staring at a little black pit bull mix and contemplating how to best alter the next eight to ten years or so of your life plans.

There are 100 reasons why the wife and I shouldn’t have a dog right now. We already have two cats, one of whom likes dogs and the other of whom does not like dogs. Our backyard isn’t fenced in and many of our neighbors are shiftless good-for-nothings which means at least 45% of the sidewalks in our neighborhood are buried under around a foot of snow. This would make walking our new bundle of joy a life-threatening chore. Oh, also, we have multiple trips planned for this year and beyond. Even though the airlines have embraced service dogs, I’m not sure pit bull-style dogs are welcomed with open arms. That means finding someone to provide the little guy with the near-round-the-clock attention puppies need. Speaking of around-the-clock attention, my wife and I both work and I’m not sure the cats, even the dog-friendly one, will be up to entertaining a puppy all day. This would mean me bolting home from work at lunch time to let the doggie out to do his business and get some exercise. In turn, this would seriously cut into my nonsense blogging time.

Despite the mountain of reasons why not to get a puppy, there was an equally compelling argument to be made for adopting the puppy, i.e., “But still. Puppy. I wants.” 

The two of us had wandered to the back of the pet store to look at the cats because, as much of a cat person as I am, I can look at cats in cages and not feel an immediate pull towards adopting them. Mostly because they’re usually sleeping or not paying attention to you. It’s hard to fall in love with a cat without meeting it. Dogs, however, are much more expressive, making them much easier to instantaneously fall for.

On our way to the cats we passed a giant glass window. On the other side of that window was a room adoptable puppies can play in. That room is usually empty, but not yesterday. Inside was a tiny black pit bull mix named Odin. His tag said he was a year, but he was still super little. He also had this adorable, wrinkled old-man face.

Naturally, because we’re both idiots, we stopped to look.

Odin was just sort of meandering around the empty room, taking in the sights such as they were. Then he saw us and ran directly towards us and sat down and looked up at us whimpering. This was all too much to bear. You could not possibly train a dog to make himself appear more adoptable than this dog. A person who was deathly allergic to dogs and who had lost both parents to separate dog attacks would have seen this display and thought “Yeah, alright, I’ll take him.”

We stared for a few minutes before I said something to the effect of “Let’s ask if he’s OK with cats.” His tag didn’t indicate this. This snapped my wife, who is the less dumb one, out of her puppy-induced trance. She took that time to muster up a “No dogs,” and she dragged me away from the window.

After this ordeal, we walked the store, got what we’d gone there for and then began to make our way to the checkout line. En route, I made a hard turn to the back of the store. Right back to Odin. My wife followed.

As soon as he saw us return, he ran up to us again and this time let out a few soft, plaintive barks. I mean, my god. This dog was a pro. This led me to declare: “I’m just going to ask if he’s good with cats.” My wife and I both knew what that meant: As long as he’d never mauled a three-legged brown tabby and a four-legged orange tabby to death, we were getting that dog. She said no, but it was one of those “Brain says no, everything else says PUPPY!” kind of nos.

I got in line at the desk to inquire about Odin and as I waited, the lady in front of me said something to her companion that went something like: “I can’t believe you’re adopting another dog!” I thought about this for a second and then I spoke up: “Are you adopting that dog in the window?” She confirmed that she was. A little crestfallen, I joked: “Oh good, because I thought I was going to have to.” Everyone laughed and the wife and I left without Odin.

If we’d gotten to the store ten minutes earlier and presumably beaten that woman there, I have no doubt that dog would be living in my house right now. Instead, we carry on dog-less, for now, and better off for it. However, once the seeds have been planted and you start envisioning you and your pooch doing all of those things people and pooches do together: long walks, ballgames, bike rides and so forth, there’s no escaping it. One day we will be dog owners, but as a great man once said: “Not right now. Not right now.”

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