Anyone who knows me knows that I am a little obsessed with my dog, Jessie Belle. OK, I'm obsessed with all dogs, but Jessie Belle in particular because she's my baby. I had dogs growing up and have always appreciated and loved them, but having your own is so different.
You don't need me to tell you that owning a dog is a rewarding experience. There's the unconditional love, of course, and the happiness and joy they bring to your life. No one will ever be happier to see you when you get home than your doggie. They make you laugh when you are sad and they have a great way of putting things into perspective. Another great perk: they clean up any spills or crumbs you drop on the floor. Sure they leave fur on everything you own; but your floors will never be so spotless.
There's also all that scientific stuff (SCIENCE!) that links having a dog to reducing stress and depression, increasing physical activity and lowering blood pressure, as well as the risk of having things like heart attacks (it's true, look it up). That's no joke.
So what I am saying here is that I love my dog, like A LOT, and I have a connection with her that non-dog lovers just won’t understand.
Unfortunately being a dog owner isn’t all fun and games. It’s a close neighbor to having a child.
Yeah yeah yeah, I know. Having a dog is nowhere near the responsibility and work of having a real human child blah blah blah. I said it’s a “close neighbor.” There are costs involved. Doctor’s visits and upkeep. Food and water. Toys. Bedding. In some cases, clothes. There’s the constant worry you’re going to kill him or her. There’s finding (and paying for) trustworthy baby sitters.
There’s also the understanding that this bundle of joy might not be perfect. You know: a quiet, obedient, clean, well-behaved cherub. Unless you are adopting an older child/dog, you don’t know exactly what you are getting. It's a big ole crap shoot.
You could end up adopting a high maintenance dog, like Jessie Belle.
Don’t get me wrong, JB is the best:
• She is, first of all, beautiful. And soft. And super clean. She doesn’t fart or eat poop (hers or others).
• She’s so freakin' smart and she has a very distinct personality.
• She shows a ton of affection. She loves to be touched and she loves to cuddle. Great ROI.
• She’s inquisitive and has lots of positive energy. She makes me laugh every damn day.
• She’s a fantastic guard dog. She protects me and my house like a BOSS.
But yes, she’s also a handful:
• She's "needy" and a little “neurotic.”
• She doesn’t walk properly on her leash. Yes, she has a harness. Yes, she’s been trained.
• She’s territorial. My house is now her house and everything in it belongs to her.
• She’s expensive. She just tore her ACL. She might tear the other one soon too.
• She Never. Gets. Tired. Even after a big walk or big time at the park. She can't chillax.
• She’s bossy (I know, ironic right?) and stubborn. If she doesn’t want to follow my commands, she just doesn’t.
This is Jessie Belle. She’s not perfect. She’s not perfectly trained. She’s not your typical lie-by-your-feet, obey-all-your-commands, you-don’t-even-know-she’s-there type of dog. She has a big personality, a lot of energy and a mind of her own.
When I pictured myself having my own dog one day, did I wish for a sassy, territorial, neurotic pain in the ass who would only listen to me sometimes? No of course not.
But I’m here to tell you: you still love them unconditionally. You get a dog, they come with a personality and a brain just like real kids. And like real kids, you try to teach them right from wrong. You adapt to their quirks and personality. You love them for those things, even if it wasn’t what you thought you wanted or expected. Can it be hard sometimes? Do you have to make accommodations? Sure.
But the quirks are what make life interesting, no? I would argue that the trade off for having a smart dog with a big personality is that they don't always listen to you. (Sounds a lot like me actually.)
Maybe this is exactly why the connection you share with a dog like this is so strong and the joy they bring is so great.
Two more points:
1) If you know my dog and think she’s a pain in the ass, I will admit it – SHE IS! But she’s also so many good things. Give her a chance. Protecting me (and our home) is her #1 job – maybe you are just getting in the way;
2) If you have a dog or are thinking about getting a dog, keep in mind it might not turn out exactly how you envisioned it. You might get a dog that has a big (read: spastic) personality, needs a ton of exercise or gets in some trouble from time to time. You might get one who’s dumb. Or who has health issues. You have to be prepared for anything. But the good outweighs the bad. The love and companionship you will get in return will always be worth it.
And for fuck’s sake, don’t ever give the dog back. If you do I’ll break both your legs.