Meet Zuma.Zuma joined our family just a few weeks ago and is the first new dog we’ve had since before our kids were born. The dog who was my wife’s companion since she first moved into her own apartment at nineteen passed two years ago, just a month or two after our daughter was born. We’ve wanted a four-legged friend for our remaining dog, Mingus, but with young children, a big move, and other considerations and complications, it was hard to find the right time. But after my brother and his family tragically lost their furry familiar (a monstrously large cane corso whose name was Romanian for “bear”) the wife’s puppy fever ran high, and next thing I knew we were meeting the newest member of our family. We named her for her resemblance to Zuma from PAW Patrol, of course, and she’s been quickly adjusting to our home and ingratiating herself with the family.
So, I thought it only fitting that in this blog, I present Ol’ Dad’s Top 5 Reasons Families Should Have Dogs.
Our dogs get fed twice a day, and someone (don’t ask me who) is always making sure they have water available. Plus, I get up a half hour earlier than I have to (and, like, three hours earlier than I want to) to walk the dogs before I get ready for work. Mingus, the old dog, got sick this summer and needed several trips to the vet for x-rays and follow ups, and Zuma had a surgery on her eyelid that required her to wear a cone and take twice-daily medications for ten days. If you think my kids aren’t noticing all the hard work that goes into owning pets and keeping them healthy, well, I guess you’ve met four and two-year olds before, huh?
No, that’s not what I mean. I mean shifting responsibility, a life skill well practiced by everyone from my eighth grade students to the leaders of the free world. Why, just today at dinner my son farted. It was a two-parter, long and whiney. A real beauty, if we’re being honest. And then, even more beautiful, he put on an innocent face and watched as his mother and I looked around for the dogs. Ok, so it wasn’t quite a full-blown, “the dog did it” yet, but it was a start, people. Trust me, it won’t be long.
If you have a family, you’re likely old like me, with the aches and pains and soft belly to prove it. Some parents manage to fit plenty of exercise into their schedules and keep themselves looking and feeling great while raising kids. I have a word for that kind of parent. But it’s not a nice word, so I won’t repeat it here.
For the rest of us, it helps to have something to force us off our butts for a few minutes a day other than running to see why someone’s crying or getting up to put away those chicken nuggets that YOU JUST TOLD ME YOU WANTED, YOU LITTLE TYRANT. In my case, walking the dogs each morning is as close to cardio as I get, barring times when a loud bump from upstairs elevates my heart rate for the two to three seconds it takes to be sure no one is crying so I can get back to grading papers. I’d like to be around long enough to laugh at my kids when their kids turn out just like them, so I appreciate what my canine friends are doing for me.
Plus, when the kids get old enough to walk the dogs, it’s a great way to force them into the sunlight and get a few moments of peace.
3. Cuteness Overload
You know what’s cute? My kids. You know what else is cute? Dogs. You know what’s so saccharine sweet cute it makes my teeth hurt? My two year-old telling me how cute the dogs are. All together now: Aaawwwwwwww…
4. Cleanliness is Next to Dogliness
This one works on multiple levels. First, kids are messy. You know it, I know it, and my dogs definitely know it. I know the dogs know because they sit under the kids’ chairs at mealtime. My dogs don’t beg, because they don’t have to. They just wait and collect. This is a win-win if you ask me, because it means less cleaning the wife and I have to do, especially when The Dude drops scrambled eggs all over the floor where they become an allergy hazard for his sister. I can rest easy, because I know that between the two of them, my pups are sure to remove the dangerous debris before it creates an itchy situation.
But wait, I hear you saying, don’t dogs create other mess that you have to clean? So, like, doesn’t that sort of even out?
Ah, Dear Reader, you overestimate me. Yes, the dogs leave hair everywhere, and it gathers in little piles under the furniture, slowly makes the color of our duvet indeterminate, and over time creates a slipping hazard on the stairs. And that’s good. It’s not that I like any of those things; it’s that I hate vacuuming. If not for the abundance of pooch fuzz, I would probably never do it. Ever. And that would be pretty gross. So in their own way, the dogs keep the house clean by making it dirty!
Ok, yeah. I know that logic doesn’t really hold up. Just let me have this one.
Can you put a price on the safety of your family? I can, and I did, and that price is being alerted by a cacophony of barking, braying, and clattering of claws on wood floors every time someone walks a dog within 200 feet of my house. God forbid they walk two dogs.
With dogs like mine, it’s also 100% impossible to forget that you’ve left a first-floor window open. No, we won’t be slipping up around here and giving easy access to intruders. Any open portal to the outside world large enough for a dog head or about to fit in will be relentlessly watched, sniffed, and barked through until it is closed. So much for fresh air.
Now, I’m sure I could go on, but I started writing this blog about a month ago and today’s nap time is almost up. I hope that you, Dear Reader, have come to understand as I do that a family without a dog (or two) is a family in name only, and you will do the right thing for all involved by opening your heart and home to a four-legged friend today, or maybe tomorrow if that’s not convenient for you. If you do, please remember that adopting or rescuing animals is cheaper and more humane than buying from pet stores or breeders, and it makes you sound really noble and heroic when you tell your friends you “rescued” a dog (“from a herd of alligators with chainsaws–I swear!”).
Special thanks to House of Hope Animal Rescue for bringing Zuma into our family.