Friday, July 20, 2012

My argument for why my dog has probably prepared me for parenthood

It dawned on me today, as I was dragging my dog down the street because he refused to walk any further, that owning a dog -- and in particular, my dog -- is probably a pretty good preparation for parenthood for a 20-something like myself. Dogs are awesome. They're supposedly loyal (though I often wonder if Rooney would be compelled to choose me over someone else. Or say, a basket of stuffed animals). They're fun to have around. They love you to death ... unless there's a stuffed animal in the room. It 's a pretty great feeling to come home and find your dog walking in circles because he's just so damn happy to see you he doesn't even know what to do. I wish my husband paced around shaking and moaning because he was SO psyched I just walked in the door. Dogs are great companions for walking or running or hiking. And I bet most of them are pretty good at protecting you in case of an emergency. I'm not sure what kind of emergency. Probably a rape or possibly a home invasion. Though again, I hope my home invader doesn't bring stuffed animals. And as I unfortunately found out this year, they're awesome to have around when you're sick. They'll show a gentle side you didn't even know was buried deep inside them and nose their way up to you and rest their blessed little heads on your belly as you lie on the couch.

So yeah, dogs are pretty great. But then there's a little personality quirks of my dog that so often remind me of a child in the permanent state of the Terrible Twos. He hates having his hair brushed. He despises baths. He makes a mess everywhere he goes.

Then there's the quirkier things. Take walking for example. As I alluded to above, I spend a significant amount of my walks with Rooney pulling him down the street. What kind of dog do you have to force to go on a walk with you? Dogs are supposed to love that shit. Not my dog. My dog often refuses to budge once we reach the end of the driveway. He stops in the middle of busy intersections and lies down while cars are waiting to pass. He'll walk like a prince and then suddenly drop to the ground and make you literally drag him until he decides to grace you with his ability to put one foot in front of the other once again while people laugh and point from their cars and porches. And when he does decide to walk, maybe he'll want to run and dart and sniff. And maybe he'll drag himself so slowly you've convinced yourself it's out of spite for you and your dumb human desire for exercise.

Have you ever tried to walk with a two-year-old child? Two-year-olds suck at walking. They're as slow as my dog. It's like, come on, kid. Move those chunky little stubs you call legs. No, don't run there are cars around here! Hold my hand! No, get up. Get UP. I'll drag you up if I have to. I'm pretty sure walking around the block with a two-year-old would take exactly the same amount of time as walking around the block with my dog.

But it's not just the walking. There's also the constant need for attention. If Rooney wants to play, he'll stand in front of you and bark his loud-ass bark in your face until you play with him, if you have not immediately done so already. If you can't play with him right now because your nails are drying, you'll be sorry. He'll bark and bark and bark and if you still aren't paying attention, he'll start to misbehave.

Have you ever seen a kid take advantage of an adult's lack of attention by smashing his toy fire truck into his sister's face? Or drawing on the walls with crayon? Or pulling all the books off the bookshelf? Rooney basically does the doggie equivalent of emptying his juice box into your purse. He'll bark and bark and if your nails still haven't dried, he'll dart. There's that blissful moment of silence that immediately raises suspicion and when you look up, Rooney is rolling in the neighbor's compost pile. Or climbing on to the one good couch in the living room that he knows he's not allowed on. Or sprinting into the middle of the neighborhood kids' basketball game.

Then there's the seemingly pointless whining. There are times when my dog doesn't want to play and you know he doesn't have to go to the bathroom and he certainly doesn't want to go for a walk but yet he'll just sit there, whining. Forever. And you can't figure out why he's whining because he doesn't speak English. After all these years with Rooney, I'm pretty sure a whining kid will be no problem. Like Rooney, I'm pretty sure a two-year-old doesn't speak much besides in grunts and wails and maybe some monosyllabic words. And you certainly can't rationalize with either of them. Have you ever tried rationalizing with a dog? I have. And I'm pretty sure he didn't get my valuable life lessons. I'm betting kids are pretty much the same. Because they're also pretty dumb and really bad at making decisions for the first 10 years or so.

Oh, and let's not forget about the spitefulness. In his four blessed years on this earth, Rooney has mastered the art of favoritism. If I yell at Rooney for chasing the neighbor's cat, he won't look at me for the rest of the night. Instead he'll curl up on B's lap and wait for B to lavish him with pets. When I reach out to pet him, he'll jump to the floor and throw spite daggers at me with his eyes. I don't know about you, but I played that game all the time when I was a kid. My dad wouldn't let me get that jumbo candy bar even though I got an O for outstanding in conduct in my report card? I am NEVER speaking to him AGAIN. My mother is the only one who understands my pain. My mom yelled at me for dumping my yogurt behind the couch and not telling anyone? DEAD TO ME. My dad would NEVER do that to me.

And lastly, let's talk about how big of a dick my dog is. There is no shortage of stories of his mighty dickishness. Like the time he got kicked out of puppy obedience school for attacking the other puppies (I can't even). Or the time he chased a feral cat into our apartment and we couldn't get it out from under our couch for two days (you don't even know). Or the time he bit my friend Lauren in the nose (like seriously?). Or how about just about every time he comes across another dog (do NOT even get me started). Like I said, he can be a real dick.

The thing that most upsets me with Rooney though, is the way he behaves towards other dogs and sometimes humans. He is utterly unpredictable. Sometimes he loves them instantly. Others, he'll snap at them and go for the jugular before I even know what's happening. This has put me completely on edge every time we pass a dog on a walk. When a neighbor brings home a new puppy, I groan and pray that they'll get along. So basically, he's like an asshole kid. Sometimes he plays great, and other times he's a bully. Kids can be dicks too. And when they are, they totally suck. It sucks having a sometimes mean dog and if I ever have a kid that shows any signs of unprompted aggression whatsoever, I'm taking it back to whatever shelter I got it from because I just can not handle. When I see my friends' dogs being nice and playing with other dogs and going for runs and being otherwise obedient, I sometimes feel like the perfectionist mom with the fat, mean kid who sucks at school.

But despite all that, dogs are still pretty awesome. And even though I've said it like a million times, I wouldn't trade mine for the world. I'm assuming kids can be pretty okay too. And when the time comes that I do have my own, I think -- thanks in a large part to my whiny, yet totally awesome dog -- I'll be ready.

Just look how awesome the Mighty Roo is:

But anyway, I gotta go. My dog is whining for me.


Diary of Why said...

Is he part dachshund? He sounds a whole lot like a dachshund mix we had growing up, who was also awesome, when he wasn't being bitey and attacking other people/dogs. And it sounds a lot like every other dachshund/part dachshund I know. Love the doxies! So cute! But man can they be pests sometimes.

Bridget Horne said...

@Diary of Why There has been no shortage of guesses as to what this dog is. Personally I think he's part beagle part Ridgeback, because he's way too big to be a daschund. He's like 45 pounds. He might be part basset. He might be part coonhound. He might be something else entirely. Who knows. But you're right; when he's not being a pest, he's awesome.

Diary of Why said...

Aha. We think ours might have been part dachshund, part beagle, so maybe that's the similarity I'm seeing in them.

Mindy said...

The first thing I thought when reading this too was "is he one of my dachshunds??". This sounds just like my two, especially the girl one. She whines for 4 reasons: she's hungry, she's thirsty, she has to go outside, and just because she feels like it/is bored. And don't even try to ignore her, she WILL out-annoy you. Every time. But I can be having the shittiest day and as soon as I come home, those two and their pure happiness and love make anything not seem so bad. I know, barf.


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