Tuesday, January 02, 2007

When even a dog is too much…

My husband and I were confronted with the prospect of getting a dog this weekend. On the way home from our New Years Eve party, our designated driver nearly hit an adorable pekingese puppy. He collected the dog, who approached him immediately and was quick to snuggle, and brought him into the car. Like most pekingese, he had silky, long fur that had clearly been recently groomed; the pads of his little feet were bloody, likely from walking on the concrete. We weren't okay with leaving the puppy on the street, and the cops would have taken him to a kill shelter (and, quite frankly, we didn't trust their follow-up skills). Figuring this was a puppy who snuck out the door at a NYE bash or simply got out some other way and would be missed quickly, our friend took the dog home after after my husband took one for the team and brought the puppy into the shower with him -- puppy was unfortunately covered in stink and feces in the back, a common problem with long-haired animals.

The next day, when we still had no word back from the police about anyone seeking a missing dog, we wondered what we'd do with the pup, whom we affectionately named Stinky Butt (because OH MY GOD). Stinky wasn't getting on so well with our friends' dog and couldn't be left alone, and they had an engagement they needed to attend. It fell on us to take care of Stinky.

We panicked. We looked at the house -- we can't have a rambunctious little dog in here. What about my art glass? Our nice furniture? Good gods, what if it PEES somewhere... or worse?! Nevermind that our landlord could potentially freak out. It was one thing having their dog visit -- Lily is mellow, quiet and, well, doesn't have stinky gas issues. Plus, her owners are always there with us. This was potentially us, mano a mano, with an adorable, stinky puppy.

"If we're watching the dog today," said my husband, "that's what we're doing this afternoon, period. Forget our plans." I knew he was right. We intially had plans to celebrate New Year's Day with some other friends, but that couldn't happen if we had to monitor Stinky Butt.

We searched for a no-kill shelter who would take the dog until we could find the owners. We prepared to put signs out. And then we got a call from the cops. Stinky's owner had called them. We were ECSTATIC. Stinky was suddenly no longer our problem. As an added bonus, as we walked to the car to go pick up the dog we saw a sad looking girl taping a flyer to the lamppost -- IT WAS STINKY BUTT! We gleefully told her we had her puppy and went to go collect him.

We fell in love with Stinky as soon as we picked him up. He ran excitedly behind our friend and Lily as she was about to take them out for a walk when we arrived. Stinky hopped into the carrier with little trouble and was just remarkably well-behaved. Our friend declared Stinky a diva who followed her around constantly, wimpering at the slightest hint of being ignored. Because of this, and because Stinky is incredibly cute and cuddly, my husband insisted that Stinky, who no longer appeared to be stinky, sit on his lap for the short drive home.

Stinky snuggled into my husband's lap and rested his soft little head in my hand as we drove. It was so sweet, and I found myself saying "maybe a dog wouldn't be so bad", although I knew that with our work and commuting schedule, gone from 8-6:30 on a good day, it wasn't something we could manage, especially with something as high-maintenance as a pekingese. But as the dog nuzzled into my hand, I felt a warmth that made me happy…

…and then Stinky reminded us why we dubbed him Stinky in the first place. Luckily it was just gas (my husband was wearing his "good pants" and got very, very panicked), but OH MY GOD again. The warm fuzzies immediately dissipated (unfortunately the odor lingered, even with the windows wide open on a brisk winter day) and I could not drive quickly enough. We left the windows rolled down as we took Stinky in to his owner's condo. The smell left the car by then, but we would later find out that it would take nearly two days, a goodly amount of Lysol Disinfectant and open common-hall windows to clear Stinky's stench from our common foyer, where we had the dog until we decided he must be bathed before getting into my friend's car the night before.

I laughed at how quickly our demeanors changed when Stinky went from being cute cuddly puppy to stenchmaster, and it reminded me how ill-equipped we are, temperament-wise, as a couple, to handle a child. "But you guys would make great parents!" people tell us, and all I can think of it the fights about handing off the stinky baby to one person or the other. I picture us playing monkey in the middle with a small child, me with my superhuman sense of smell causing me to gag at the slightest odor, him getting irritated with me because he's always the one who does it because smell and gross doesn't bother him as much. Hell, why do you think he ended up being the one to take Stinky into the shower the night before! I can just see it, and it's not a pretty sight.

A situation like that would make me fear for my marriage. We couldn't handle a stinky puppy for a 20-minute drive home. The idea of something running around and terrorizing our comfortable, adorable home was completely unacceptable to us both, and the thought of giving up an entire afternoon to care for a clingy, stinky diva of a puppy made us angry.

Thoughts like this bring up the question of whether we are selfish because we enjoy the conveniences of our life. I still maintain it's a difference in lifestyle; to say one is selfish is to imply the other is selfless, or at the very least NOT selfish. Many who have children do so because that's what they want for their lives. This is what we want for our lives. It is no different.

We prefer a life where godawful stench and clingy codependence play as small a role as possible. Is that really all that selfish?


Anonymous said...

Just found your site and loved this story. I just had the same experience with a kitten my partner and I thought we were going to adopt. It was (pretty) clean, but needed way more attention than either of us wanted to give, and within 4 days I could feel the anger at my partner growing--why am I supposed to play with this thing for hours?--and the cuteness of the kitten evaporating. Then it knocked over and broke a glass full of water, which I knew was only the beginning. And it wouldn't let us sleep. . . . I was so happy after we gave it back, as I sat in silence reading on the sofa, day-dreaming, not having to think about or be responsible for any other creature but myself.

Thanks for this blog; although since I'm almost 10 years older than you I know that women in their thirties often change their minds about childfree living.

Tiara Lynn said...

Thanks for this blog; although since I'm almost 10 years older than you I know that women in their thirties often change their minds about childfree living.

It was such a nice comment, too... Of course I realize that many people change their minds, but a great deal of those women would more easily label themselves as "undecided". I have this fact brought to my attention by many fancying themselves older and wiser, all the while not realizing that bringing this up simply trivializes the decision that I and other women make.

Ashley said...

Hi, I just found your blog by searching blogger.com. I'm almost 23, and a newlywed, and my husband and I are also happily childfree. He's a professional chef with a culinary arts degree and I'm an aspiring historian with a B.A. in history and philosophy. I'll be graduating with an M.A. in history next May. I really enjoyed your story about "Stinky Butt"...did you ever find out what his name actually was? :-D My hubby and I can only handle a little bit of stench in our lives...my husband moreso than me. He's been an excellent butcher for the restaurants where he's worked and has come home before drenched in blood and covered in fish scales. I get nauseous just standing next to the trash can for too long. We live in an apartment, so we have small pets...2 Betta fishes and 3 hamsters. Plus, my husband is allergic to cats and dogs, and since they produce a lot more stink than a few hamster cages and fishtanks, we'll stick with our small critters! I love my animals, and I'm more than okay with cleaning up after them every week. But with a kid, the cleaning would never end (at least for the first few years...or longer, if our offspring had problems). I couldn't deal with that...there are many reasons why we're childfree, but the cleanliness issue is huge for me! Anyways, thanks for this post...I'm looking forward to reading more from you!

jen said...

hi, i just found your blog and i really like it. it isn't all bitter and angry like most childfree blogs i've seen.

anyway, i just had to say that my husband and i talk about this a lot. we have a blind dog and a cat and we often get tired of having to constantly clean up after them, clean up their poo, etc., and we always comment on how much worse it would be if we had to take care of a child. don't get me wrong, we love our cat and dog, but they are more than enough trouble to take care of -- it is a constant reminder of (one reason) why i don't want kids. considering that kids are MORE trouble and LESS cute than our animals, why would i ever want a kid?