There are lots of people I want to stab in my diurnal round. Racists and sexists, mainly, but close behind those are people who use the term ‘only a dog’. In a sub-sector of my friendship group, we consider that people deserve stoning for that kind of remark. When H., M.1, M.2, M.3 and I run the world, stoning dog-dismissers will be legal, too, so just keep that in mind.
My oldest dependent got hospitalised on Thursday night, his head wobbling from fever-shakes, unable to recognise the Owl or me, his long pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. Just because Loki is big black dog didn’t mean that I didn’t stay awake all night convinced he was going to die and terrified his organs were closing down, guilty because I had left him alone in a strange place with a drip shoved in one spotted paw and a stripy cat mocking him from the top of the cages.
Dogs are not a child substitute. Dogs are not a sign of an inability to commit to children, or a feeble second best for the infertile. Dogs are dogs, with all the benefits, limitations and compromises that entails (emphasis added for the benefit of the slow-witted). Dogs house-train more quickly than most small children, and they die a lot earlier as well. Most people will outlive a number of dogs, and that takes a certain acceptance and strength. On the other hand, you don’t have to worry about ADHD. They’re like that anyway.
We have dogs because they are loving, amiable, endlessly entertaining and uncritical. They will not look after us in our old age. They will probably use up your emergency credit card in the time it takes me to type ‘fever of unknown origin’. They will knock over the neighbourhood children and attempt to consume other dogs on the beach, because someone growled inappropriately. They will chew up your passport, leave teeth-marks in your mobile, unplug your internet connection with their tails when you haven’t saved your essay and spill coffee on library books. Neuter them, and insure them. This will make your life slightly less expensive, messy and painful, but not by much of a margin.
Loki is fine. He is snoozing on the couch (where he is not supposed to be), after a ride in the car (where he shed a lot of fur). Get a dog if you want your life to be less clean, tidy and ordered.
Or get a dog because you can’t have children. But really, they’re not the same thing at all.