Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On a quest to be a typical American family

We are a typical American family...middle-income suburbian family consisting of father, mother, 2-1/2 kids and Fido, the family dog. Well, except that I don't think there is a definition of the "typical American family" anymore...and the fact that we have an extra half of a kiddo running around here. Well, and we have no Fido to grace our home with clumps of hair and pools of saliva on the furniture.
We're not against having pets...we have 3 kids who are as pet-like as they come. Jay and I both grew up with pets and have fond memories of playing with them as kids. They taught us a lot about life and friendship and even the horribly enlightening period known as "being in heat" when we had to run as fast as we could to our trampoline before our English Springer Spaniel would tackle us during the times that she would hump anything that moves. I kid you not. She was seriously confused about her gender and was obviously not privy to certain rude behaviors. She also birthed countless puppies during our childhood, which never came as any surprise to us, no matter how hard we had worked to keep her locked up during her "prime time". This was also the same dog who loved to eat the cats that mistakenly wandered over from the yard of our "cat-lady neighbor".

My goodness, when I think of all this, I can't imagine why exactly I have been depriving my children of such learning adventures (enter tone of sarcasm). But the truth is, we're just not animal people, which I find a little funny because Jay worked for a vet in high school. And my family jumped around from dogs to cats to rats to birds to gerbils to rabbits to ferrets to a baby duck to lizards to fish...taking the whole fam to the zoo was entirely too expensive, so the zoo was brought to us.
When I think about owning a pet now, I have such conflicting thoughts and emotions. On one hand, the smells about do me in, right along with the amount of saliva the beasts produce. My parents have a gorgeous, sweet-as-can-be, large dog who once took a dinosaur-sized poop directly on Nate's oxygen tubing one Christmas when we were all home. This is the same dog who has some of the foulest methane production I have ever experienced...the type that seriously singes the tiny hairs that are supposed to protect the inside of your nose. Mine are still trying to grow back after last Christmas. And as for saliva, I gag at the mere mention of foamy spit. I hate dog slobber.
But we are seemingly having a change of heart when it comes to pet ownership. The kids LOVE Christmastime for reasons most don't...because they are surrounded by pets from both sides of the family on our yearly trip up north. And they often ask to visit the house of our pastor's family so they can play with their dog, who they have nicknamed "the lickinator". Watching their reactions and true joy playing with these animals have softened us over time, but I think the catalyst that truly started to change our minds was learning about Emma's "dead pet" collection. The poor strange kid has started collecting dead insects (cicadas, grasshoppers, worms) and calling them her pets. She houses them in a small, lush bed inside the play kitchen in the playroom and has regular daily conversations with them as if they are alive. Once they start to stink, she moves them to a new home in the garage. Now, tell me that's not pitiful...and almost strange enough to warrant a full neuro examination.
We had a stray dog come the house the other day for a few hours while drooling buckets all over our driveway. The girls immediately sprung to action in giving it plenty of TLC. They simultaneously realized it was a girl because "it has a pink collar" (Abby) and "it has boobies" (Emma), so they named her Ellie. Emma loved on Ellie, gave her water, endured copious amounts slung slobber with each shake of her head, and wept relentlessly when Ellie decided to move on to another location during her jaunt in the outside world. She was a mess.
So, unbeknownst to the little munchkins living under our roof, we are on a quest to find a pet...maybe even a dog. Or maybe a new dead insect. We haven't made up our minds yet. Its a big step...especially since we just got new carpet last spring. We are looking for some species who doesn't shed, doesn't smell bad, and doesn't take big dumps on any of Nate's medical equipment. I'd also prefer something that unloads the dishwasher. Shouldn't be too hard to find, right?


Kim and Asa on September 13, 2011 at 1:56 PM said...

I know you'll get 368952 comments about which breed is the best. I'll start it I guess!

I'm not an animal person either. I'm allergic to anything with fur, it seems. People ever so kindly drop strays off at our house though so we became dog owners against our will. I fed and tolerated the random dogs that were gifted to us with no where near the gusto of the kids. And this system worked ok for me until the dogs got old and eventually wandered off to die. It was only after Gracie found one dead and mutilated (right before her 8th bday) that I caved and started shopping for an inside dog!

We got a year old yorkie rescue who was house broken and out of the chewing stage. He doesn't shed, don't drool, doesn't stink and small dogs=small poop! So far I'm not allergic either. Sadly for Gracie, he chooses to sleep with Anna and is generally her shadow so now Gracie is trying to talk us into a dog for just her! Lol!

Have fun shopping!

september on September 13, 2011 at 10:22 PM said...

We got a dog a little over a year ago; my husband wasn't all that enthusiastic until I pointed out that it may just keep me from wanting another baby. Still on the fence about the bambino but it did get him to swing my way on the dog front!

I had wanted something small...really small. Boarding is expensive and a hassle, so I needed something appropriately sized to come with us on weekend visits to my parents, etc. I also diddn't want shedding and something relatively easy on the allergies (I have a BIL and nephew with asthma). And at the time we were on the dog hunt we still lived in NJ and there was NO way I wanted a dog that needed a two mile walk every day.

Zoe is all that and more! She's a pomeranian/poodle mix--she has the slight curl from the poodle so she doesn't shed, and has real "hair" that doesn't seem to bother people with allergies. Her parents were 6 and 10 lbs, respectively, so we were expecting something in the middle, but she is either a runt or some weird genetic throwback because she's barely 5 lbs soaking wet. She is the sweetest thing, though--my kids love on her and when my husband travels (50+%) it's nice for me to have company in the evenings and while the kiddos are in school.

Oh, and she doesn't drool (HATE the dog drool...though she does lick, which I detest but it's part of the package) and is small enough that we just do weekly baths, so she doesn't smell. Also, when we were training her puppy puddles & piles weren't quite that bad.

Kyla on September 14, 2011 at 8:44 PM said...

We have a dalmation from a rescue, a cat that we found as a tiny kitten under Josh's car, a guinea pig we bought the kids for Christmas a couple of years ago, and an albino cornsnake that my son bought with his birthday money. I'd say the cat and snake are the least amount of work (our cat is indoor/outdoor, so we don't deal with a litterbox!). If you are looking for a dog, check out local rescues and shelters, you can often find a sweet dog that is housebroken and crate trained and out of the rough and tumble pup stage!

Jen on September 15, 2011 at 8:05 PM said...

I'm so excited for your kids! For you, well, I feel you with the smell and hair and all that. We have a rescue dog that we adopted before our first was born. She was crate trained, which was fantastic! The kids are growing up with her, and they all LOVE her. I kind of love her too :) Even though she is a little smelly and does leave hair all over the house. Good luck finding the perfect pet, and I cannot wait to hear how surprised the kids are!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is I wouldnt get a pup as it would bite through Nates wires and tubes and also get tangled in them!!! And be a pain the backside. Go for a rescue dog as you can tell the people that work there what you're looking for in a dog.
Also cats are awesome no cleaning up nasty poop and you dont really have to do anything other then feed, water and groom them. Cats are also very good around kids especially our special needs kiddos!!
p.s Your kids are precious!!!


Jenny on September 18, 2011 at 9:26 PM said...

Personally, I think you should get a Gator dog like us. Maybe I can work on hooking you up next month!

rhi0519 on September 19, 2011 at 8:08 PM said...

We have a boston terrier and he is wonderful...low shedding and not a lot of drool! Good luck on the animal hunt!!!

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