Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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Ugh... My Kids Want a Dog (Why I don't want a pet) Part III

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The next day a co-worker brought her dog into work. Courtney lives in Eugene, about 45 min from OSU’s campus, and was planning to dog sit a friend’s dog in a week or so. That friend lived near OSU, and Courtney arranged for her dog to have a play date with the other dog once she got off work.
“Dogs are a lot like people, and I need to know if our dogs will get along. I don’t want them fighting.” 
Apparently dog people do this.
Courtney’s dog was a small grey and white miniature Schnauzer. It had a masculine and respectable beard, stout little legs, a stumpy wagging tail, and a purple collar. I assumed it was a boy until Courtney told me its name was Lola.


Courtney is a petite woman with dark brown hair. From a distance she almost looks like a teen. This youthful perception was only magnified as she walked along the hallways of Waldo Hall with a miniature Schnauzer trailing behind her. Periodically I could hear the jingle of Lola’s collar, and the pitter patter of her paws outside my office. And as I watched Courtney walk around the office, Lola in tow, I couldn’t help but think that it looked a lot like when I watch Tristan or Norah follow around Mel. There was something childlike and enduring about that miniature Schnauzer that slightly tugged at my heartstrings, and I think that something was how much it reminded me of a child.
I was a little stand-offish about the dog at first. I said hello to it. I watched it sit. I even patted its head. But most of that was out of courtesy. Courtney was a co-worker and friend. She talked a lot about her dog, often trying to compare her caring for it to my struggle caring for my kids. Dog people love to do that. I always remind them that they can put their dog in the backyard with a water dish and some food and go out on a date. I can’t do that with Tristan and Norah. Although, sometimes I’d like too. I also think Tristan and Norah would enjoy it. Anyway, I knew how much Lola meant to Courtney, so I tried to be courteous without getting too close.
About half way through the day Lola and Courtney were chatting with a co-worker in the office next to mine. I sat down and got involved in the conversation. For some reason I reached down and started to pet Lola. I don’t know why I was drawn to the little thing, but it was clean and well cared for. I hadn’t seen it lick it’s crotch and it hadn’t tried to lick me, so I tried to assume that it was one of few dogs that didn’t do stuff like that.
One of the things I love about being a dad is snuggle time. I love when Tristan and Norah snuggle up against me on the sofa or on the floor. I get a soft warm feeling when I snuggle with my kids that I can’t explain. As I pet Lola, she started to snuggle up against my leg, and I started to get a similar soft warm feeling. It was not nearly as strong of a feeling as when I snuggle with my kids, but it was strangely similar. Eventually Lola found her way into my lap, and I was okay with it. I am not usually okay with having a dog in my lap, but this time I was. 
We had a little snuggle time.

I thought a lot about my kids as Lola snuggled up against me. I wondered if this recognizable feeling I was experiencing from a dog was the reason people loved them. If this was the reason people often substituted kids with pets. If this was the reason they were willing to clean up dog poop and all the other gross things that go along with having a dog.
Lola and I snuggled for a few moments until I started to realize what was happening. I was starting to get weak. I was starting to come around, starting to understand why people loved dogs. I hadn’t turned into a dog lover yet, but this Lola was obviously a gateway drug of some kind. This was the closest I’d ever come to wanting a dog, and I didn’t know how to handle that, so I gently placed the little dog down. Gave it a little pat, and went back into my office.

We still haven’t gotten a dog. I still don’t really want one. However, I feel that I’ve been weakened. I feel like there is a chink in my armor. I worry that it is just a matter of time.

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University.