My husband does not think I should further disrupt our lives by bringing a new dog into the home.
He’s right, but I don’t agree with him.
He thinks the four cats with whom we live provide us with enough furry-purry snuggly-scrumptious companionship, and he believes that the doyenne of our menagerie, a seriously ancient moggie named Hermione, might become apoplectic should another creature be brought into her manse.
I don’t care. I may not be as ancient as she is (Hermie was God’s class pet when he was in kindergarden), but I remember when our many cats shared their home with a dog. Seventeen years ago our big boy Roscoe of blessed memory opened his home to Hermione and her brood, and for the rest of his life, he cared for them with a devotion not seen since Mame Dennis adopted her nephew Patrick. He licked their ears clean, broke up their fights, and served as a warm bed on which they could nap.
He was their kindly father, and he was my beautiful love.
Roscoe was an amazing animal. He was a very large pit bull, with brindle fur the color of barbecued chicken. His eyes barely reflected light, which other people found pretty scary; I suspect their role was to soak in all the love in the universe, and redirect it to the members of our family. That dog exuded affection, from the top of his rock-hard head to the tip of his whip-lashing tail.
Because he loved us so dearly, and because we loved him back, we put up with a couple of inconveniences. Roscoe made it hard for us to travel; his kindness at home was more than matched by his bursts of anger whenever we left him in a kennel. He made it hard to get a good night’s sleep; as he became older, he had to be walked at two… and at four… and at six. He even made it tricky for my husband and me to make love; as soon as we got started, he’d stand at the door of our room and howl. Our kids quickly learned not to ask why he was yowling, but I think they still get embarrassed when they hear a big dog bawling.
Darling Roscoe… the void he left in our hearts has never been filled again. I don’t think another dog would ever replace him, any more than one spouse could replace another, or a parent could be supplanted. Nonetheless, there is a chasm in my heart that cries out for someone with big floppy ears, a bounce in his step, and a metronome of a tail.
I tell my husband there are practical reasons for getting a dog. If we had one, I might be persuaded to walk more… he can’t expect me to roam around the neighborhood dragging a cat on a leash, can he? The house might look nicer, too… back when we had Roscoe, nothing that fell on the floor stayed there for long; that dog was more efficient than a Roomba.
If I were to get a dog, it would have to be an older animal; I certainly don’t want a puppy. It’s not that I’m too lazy to train one (though I am); it’s just that I don’t know how long I’ll be around anymore. My husband is younger and in better health than I am, but neither of us is a sprig. I’ve seen friends die and leave young pets behind; I don’t want a beloved companion to become a burden to my loved ones, or another homeless creature at the pound.
For that reason and that reason only I’ve bowed to my husband’s decision, but I don’t know how much longer I will hold out. I have to stop myself from browsing through Petfinders. I have to keep my car from steering into the pound. I have to remind myself that to everything there is a season, and my season for owning a dog may have passed.
But this doesn’t make me happy.
It doesn’t make me happy at all.