I’m not what you would call a dog person. I never have been. I didn’t think I ever would be. I have never had anything against dogs nor their owners, and I totally understand and appreciate the relationships and close attachments many folks have with their dogs. I just have never felt the need for a dog in my life.
As a child, I never had a pet of any sort. With up to ten family members living in a three bedroom house, there simply wasn’t room. I don’t remember any of us even having a stuffed animal. To conserve space, we were encouraged to have imaginary friends, and the majority of our “dolls” were one-dimensional paper dolls or baseball cards.
Although my memory is foggy on this point –which should help explain why I should never be responsible for a pet “of any sort” — I think my mom did allow us to have a dog for a short time. He was a stray mutt, who like many humans who came into our house and lives, showed up one day and never seemed to leave. My mother has always had a soft spot for human strays. Anyway, we named the dog “Skeets” after the nickname for Renaldo Nehemiah, who was an Olympic sprinter and football player. I’m pretty sure things did not end well for that dog. He didn’t sprint quite fast enough. I’ll leave it at that.
If I’m being totally honest, I’m just not a person who enjoys having a pet of any sort. When my sons were children, we bought them each one of those Tamagotchi virtual pets in the hope of satisfying their desire for an actual one. If the length of my children’s ability to keep their Tamagotchis alive is any measure of how a real pet would have fared under their care, it’s a good bet things wouldn’t have ended well for that theoretical Ty Roth family pet as well. In order to end their occasional begging for a dog, I actually told them I was allergic to “pets,” not specifically dogs, cats, or any other species of animal, but pets in general. This doesn’t place me in Cruella DeVille territory, but it certainly leaves me far from Jim Fowler or Steve Irwin’s neighborhood.
They’d ask, “Dogs?”
“Allergic,” I’d answer.
Looking back on it, it was actually kind of genius.
True to the way children tend to contradict their parents when they become adults themselves, two of my sons now have a dog, and my third will have one as soon he lives somewhere with a lease that allows it. Full disclosure: I’m his current landlord.
Somehow, however, I’ve become one of those people I swore I would never be: the kind who refer to pets in human terms and talking to them as if they were rational, English-speaking beings. I’ve even begun referring to my sons’ dogs as my “grand dogs,” and I often catch myself talking to them in that baby talk tone of voice I use with my actual grandbabies: “You’re such a good girl! Yes, you are!”
Who am I?
My oldest son’s (Taylor) dog is a Goldendoodle named Pippen. He and his fiancé are both college basketball coaches and fans of Scottie Pippen, the former wing man to Michael Jordan with the Chicago Bulls. I, however, just to torment them, call her “Pippin” (with an “i”) after the character of the same name in the kind of creepy, very 70s Broadway musical Pippin.
Pippen’s an excitable, playful, and loving little dog with energy and affection to burn. She regularly boards with us when her “parents” must go out of town, and I love every minute of it.
My middle son’s (Travis) dog is a golden retriever named Ralph because . . . well . . . he looks like a Ralph. He’s a big lug of a dog that remains a puppy at heart. He has little of Pippen’s energy or excitability, but he’s friendly, gentle, and affectionate. With a human sister in the house, Ralph has had to deal with a little less attention than he’d grown used to, and it hasn’t always gone well. Perhaps, that explains the doggie bed he tore the stuffing out of in the photo above.
Despite my affection for my grand dogs, I still have no plans for one of my own, but I have learned to enjoy playing with them, walking them, and rubbing their bellies. I tend to give them treats they’re not supposed to have, and I generally spoil them like my grandkids.
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