Confession time – I do not want to get a dog. A clarification, another dog – after losing our 13-year-old German shepherd, “Lily,” on January 31, our family is left with just one dog, another German shepherd who is not quite six years of age.
Our son has been begging for a new dog for the past week (one for “just” him) – he is a persistent kid and his father and I are getting bombarded daily with his desperate “I want a dog” pleas. But I am not ready yet. Lily has not yet been gone a full month and truth be told, the last two years with her were tough.
Gone was my athletic, self-sufficient companion – in her stead was a quiet friend with old-age physical issues that made day-to-day life tough. Truth be told, though I miss her terribly, I do not miss washing her bedding everyday because she leaked on it. I do not miss watching her fall down every time that she walked outside to go potty. I do not miss using wipes to clean her “down there” several times a day because of her urinary leak issues, nor do I miss the terrible odor that she had developed because of those urinary problems. I am not missing the restless nights of sleep, listening for if she fell off of her bed and needed help back up. And most of all, I do not miss the waiting and wondering when “the day” would come that her old-age issues would be significant enough that the dreaded appointment had to be made.
Don’t get me wrong…I do miss Lily – her steadfast love and wonderful presence was a priceless gift to our family.
My son doesn’t understand – he just wants a new friend. He does not “get” the responsibility that comes from taking on a new companion. The last few years with Lily were tough, but we made a commitment to her and any new dog that joins our family would be provided with the same commitment.
Young dogs become old dogs and with then, when the fun times have passed, you have to be ready to take on the old-age stage. For some, that may mean more veterinary bills (surgical removal of lumps and bumps), funds for medication to off-set age related pains and disorders (diabetes, arthritis, Cushings, cancer, urinary incontinence, the list goes on and on). In fact, we have not yet paid off all of the “Lily” bills from her passing.
Readers of this column see the result of dogs who belonged to less-than-committed owners – the old dogs wind up dumped at shelters to become someone else’s responsibility.
Trying to explain why I am not ready for another dog to my son is tough – he doesn’t know, first hand, what it means to be completely responsible for another life. The time will come when we are ready to accept a new friend into our family – it isn’t now, but it likely will be at some point in the future.
Why make this “I don’t want a dog” confession? I suppose it is simply to make people fully think about the commitment that dog ownership entails. It isn’t just for the good times – it is for all times – the good and the bad.
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