Taking Care

Yesterday, we had dinner over at Jeff and Kelly’s house. They barbecued pork chops and corn on the cob and served it all with pasta salad from Sam’s Club. It was delicious and very much appreciated. We played some games and caught up a little bit on everything, since we hadn’t seen them since our wedding.

Since they adopted their puppy, they spend a lot of time with people who also have dogs. Teddy likes to run and play with other dogs, so it’s only natural. But it got me thinking a little bit about the responsibility they’ve taken on by taking in this pup. Because a dog is not like a cat. Cat’s are relatively independent. They like attention when the demand it, but mostly occupy themselves on their own. Yes, you need to feed them and keep their bathroom area clean, but other than that, they don’t need you for much. A dog, however, is more like a child. You worry about him when you’re not at home. You notice how his mannerisms change when he’s tired or excited or anxious. You have to walk him and play with him and make sure he’s getting enough exercise in general. You can even teach him tricks and to recognize the words for his favorite toys. It’s a different kind of bond than with cats, in my observations so far. And possibly stronger.

In considering all of this, and watching my friends interact with their pet, I realized that I have never been responsible for any other life but my own. And it freaked me out a little bit. We want kids, and maybe someday a dog who doesn’t shed enough to make our noses itch and bleed, and it hit me just how much is involved. I found myself a little bit torn, because it almost seems like dog-ownership is a kind of club or something that I wanted to be included in, but at the same time, I know we’re not even remotely ready for. Kind of like when you were the only virgin left, and you just wanted to lose it already so you could know what all the fuss was about. I saw a future a few years hence, where James and I are still living in this tiny one-bedroom apartment, paying more in rent than we would on a mortgage and utilities and household repairs combined, when all our friends have houses and dogs and babies. It’s crazy, and after getting to know some dogs, I’ve actually begun to reconsider the whole dog-ownership option, but what’s next?

This also makes me look a little bit into the recent past. I know that some people think that getting married is a sort of ticket into an exclusive club, but I really don’t feel any different than when I was just engaged or living together with James. I still love spending time with my single friends, but we’ve also always spent time with couple friends, too. Do my single friends now look at me the same way I look at a friend with a new puppy? Am I just tired and dehydrated from a nice day in the country? Can the Red Sox win another World Series? Who is Mr. X?

Tune in next week to find out.

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