Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fortunately for them, they're also cuddly and lovable

I’ve often heard parents (particularly new ones) talking about the things no one tells you about before you have a baby. Like projectile vomiting, all-night screaming jags, diaper bombs, and other trials of parenthood. Well, I don’t have any kids…but I do have dogs. When my husband and I bought our first home in 2003, I decreed that it was time for us to have a dog. While he was scouting out lovable pooches on Petfinder, I was dreaming of L.L. Bean-catalog-style dog scenarios: Running through sunny meadows, frolicking at the beach, and cuddling with my fastidiously-groomed, perfectly-behaved Man’s Best Friend beside a roaring fire. Boy, was I wrong. Not to imply that I don’t love my little beasts—I adore them! But. In my seven years as a dog owner, I have learned a lot…and not all of it has been good.

Things No One Tells You about before You Get a Dog

You will become intimately familiar with all of the gross substances inside your dog.
My family had several dogs when I was growing up, but my mom must have taken care of the dirty work, because I don’t recall ever having to clean up so many gross excretions. Pee, poo, barf, mucous, mysterious leavings that could possibly be some mixture of the aforementioned…you name it, I’ve cleaned it up. And if one of the dogs is sick? You actually have to examine the stuff you’re picking up, prepare a “sample,” and, possibly, discuss its qualities and characteristics with a veterinary professional. I’ve never seen any of that  stuff happening in the L.L. Bean catalog.

Dogs don’t have the ability to use good judgment.
They eat things that were never intended for consumption. They figure out how to get into situations that they don’t have the brainpower to get out of. They talk trash to German Shepherds and other big, tough-looking dogs, even though they are 30-pound fluffballs who couldn’t kill a mouse. If you are going to share your home with a dog, you need to have a clear head, the ability to think on your feet and remain calm, and the vet’s phone number on speed-dial. I have actually gotten better about handling dog emergencies over the years, and no longer resort to bursting into tears and calling Mr. Nerd to tell me how to handle the latest catastrophe. It can still be really unnerving sometimes, though.

Dog hair is the most confounding substance on the planet
It gets everywhere--even in places where the dogs don’t go--and you will never get it off. You might as well give up trying. It can sense when you’ve just vacuumed, and it will fly off the dog(s) at an incredible rate until all available surfaces are covered again. Also, if you don’t commit to Swiffering every 45 minutes or so, it will bind itself into six-inch tumbleweeds and roll down the hallway. The best you can hope for is to try to match your furniture and clothing to the color of the dog, so it won’t be quite so obvious that all of your possessions are sporting a layer of fur.

Dogs have extra-sensory abilities
It’s true! They must have some kind of special powers! Otherwise, how could they tell when I am in a hurry, so they can all gang up under my feet? (I swear, it is just a matter of time until I go bum-over-teakettle down the steps some morning.) Or sense that it's Saturday, so they can all start barking and running around the bedroom like rabid dingoes about two hours before I have to get up? Or determine—even from several rooms away--that a food item has just been set within dog-reach somewhere in the house? It’s amazing. You would think, given these astonishing mental powers, that they would be well-trained, perfectly-behaved, and able to perform all sorts of incredible tricks. You would be wrong. After seven years of work, all we have to show for it is a solid “sit” and a lackadaisical, halfhearted “stay.”

Dog people, what have I left out? What about cats? Do they come with a set of warnings, too? Tell me about it in the comments!


cardiogirl said...

I've never lived with a dog so I have no clue about that, but cats I know.

Cats will sleep all day and then find all of the hidden toys jammed under the oven, fridge, couch etc. At roughly 1:58 am they will grab a toy mouse haul ass around the house until they end up underneath your bed in a fight with the toy.

The fight must take place between the hours of midnight and 3 am and only on a work night. Friday and Saturdays are exempt.

Hissing and howling are a must and if there is more than one cat in the house, both must engage in the fight, one in pursuit of the other.

Also, whenever a cat is coughing up a furball or vomiting it must do so on the only piece of carpeting in the house. If you have hardwood floors and tile throughout the house the cat will find the one throw rug in the dwelling and will expel bodily fluids on that rug.

In a pinch, the cat will vomit underneath your bed while you sleep.

absepa said...

cg: I've heard about cats and their late-night shenanigans from some friends. At least the dogs sleep when I do--I have to give them credit for that. I can't imagine having a howling cat under my bed in the middle of the night.

Karen said...

We have hardwood floors and our cats have somehow learned how to make their vomit the EXACT SAME COLOR as the floor. This gives them great entertainment as their humans get up, looking for the loudly barfed fluids, and step in them. They don't know it, but I saw their little high-fives as I dropped to a seated position and moaned for the hubby to get me some paper towels, Clorox Wipes and a bottle of bleach to pour over my foot. Nothing grosser than cold cat vomit in the morning.

absepa said...

Karen: And that is the very reason why I started wearing slippers...stepping in dog barf once was enough. *Love* the little high-fives! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!