OK, before all you dog lovers out there start barking and jerking at your leash, let me get one thing straight. I like dogs. I really do. I like to play with them, pet them, and just plain, old hang out with them. But I do not like the rest of the mess.
After close to seven years of current dog ownership you’d think I’d be somewhat used to it. And I am. Sort of. I am used to the daily ritual of feeding and taking the dog out. I am used to stepping lightly in the yard where the dog usually does his business. We have finally progressed past our dog eating all our blankets, towels and rags, it is rare that he gets sick, he does not have doggy accidents anymore, and he no longer jumps all over people he does not know well when they visit. Or at least not as much.
But he sheds like he grows a new coat everyday, has an affinity for squashing the back cushions of a couch so he can see out the bay window, and if he gets a chance he likes to wile his afternoons away on of two upstairs beds that overlook our front yard. And then there’s the cost of food, grooming, flea and tick treatments and the like.
Our couches have back cushions that resemble big fluffy pillows, and they do not take well to a 30-plus pound dog lounging his afternoons away atop them. The funny thing is we never see him on top of the cushions. He doesn’t go near them if we are around. He won’t even get on the seat cushions. But you can bet that if I do not flip the back cushions down before I leave the house, Duke will be on top them while we are gone.
The flattened cushions with dog hair littered on them is plenty of evidence to convict him.
And when the evidence is pointed out to him, it is clearly obvious that he knows he is guilty and has done wrong. Still, the scenario plays out the same day after day.
I have never got used to such things, and while I learned long time ago to never say never, I’m relatively certain it would take another lifetime before I did.
Until recent years, I never had a dog around my home much.
My parents got us a poodle-like thing when my siblings and I were young. His name was Chad. But he took a nasty snip at my little sister one day and he was soon gone.
Then there was Peanut. He was a little black thing that loved chocolate, but hated storms or fireworks. If that dog smelled chocolate, even though it was nowhere in sight, he went absolutely bonkers. But one day a storm or fireworks scared him too much, he disappeared, and we never saw him again.
Then there was Champ. He was pretty cool. My parents got him as a Christmas gift for my youngest brother. Everyone except the brother knew he was going to get a dog on Christmas Eve one evening. So, as we all were gathered around the dinner table, and the dog was tucked away in the basement, we all had to start talking louder each time the dog let out a cry. When he was finally presented to my brother wrapped in towel, the Christmas spirit lit the room.
We had a red pickup at the time and Champ loved that truck. One time I was driving through the center of town in the truck when I heard what sounded like something running beside me. I looked in the side-view mirror and sure enough, there was Champ running alongside the truck. He pulled similar moves several times.
Later, after my parents sold the truck, the new owner came and dropped Champ off to us one day. He lived on the other side of town, but somehow Champ had found the truck and made himself at home. My parents had him long after we all moved away.
Until recently, I never had many dogs of my own. We had one named Petey once and we all took a liking to him. But he was a roamer, disappeared one day, and he never came home.
A year or two after that my wife decided that her eldest son needed a dog. I reluctantly agreed. But I was not in agreement when I came and they had two dogs. They said they could not stand the thought of taking one dog away from its entire family, so they got two. Bad choice. They were too much. They were loud and turned a fairly decent-sized, grassy, side yard to dust. They had to go.
Close to three decades passed before I had dog again. Buckeye showed up at our house one day, a grandson fed him a couple times, and we had a dog. Buckeye was the kindest, most gentle dog I have ever known. She stayed outside or in the garage, and had a penchant for dragging things like skeletons and other trash into our side yard. But other than that, and the fact that she blessed us with a eight puppies not long after she moved in, she was all anyone could ever want in a dog.
The grandson was smaller then, and one of our favorite things was for him get Buckeye’s attention and then run from her. She’d chase him down, tackle him, then lick him all over as she nuzzled up next to him. But she was not an inside dog, I refused to tie her up, and she finally got hit one day chasing my wife and grandson down the road as they pulled away.
Then came Duke. My youngest son wanted him for a high school graduation present, even though he was leaving for college in a couple months. The rest of the family almost talked me into it one night, but finally I said no. Absolutely no. Then the next day they showed up with him anyway.
Guess that tells you where I rank in my household.
I like Duke. I really do. But after five years my youngest son will graduate from college next month. Wherever he eventually lands, he plans to take “his” dog with him.
I suppose I’ll miss him – the dog, that is. But a hairless house, a few less chores and some extra pocket change will offset the loss.
It will not; however, appease the grandson. So, against my better judgement, I have loosely agreed to another small house dog – if Duke ever leaves – as long as it does not shed.
But, that does mean I will ever get used to the idea.
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.