When I was in my early 20’s, my mother made a joke about the fact that my dog, Micheal, was the best form of birth control* she could have ever wished upon me. It was probably closer to the mark than even she realized at the time. I mean, think about it. I was already working full-time plus (averaging around 60 hours a week for YEARS) and having a dog, well, having a dog settled me in so many ways. I bought a house because I had trouble finding a decent place that would allow pets. This house came complete with super nosey older neighbors (so not a lot of “sleepovers” if-you-know-what-I-mean). No partying all night for me, he needed to go out to pee pretty regularly. However, Micheal’s biggest claim to birth-control status was his ability to act like an obnoxious teenager at the absolute worst possible times. His favorite trick (and only trick outside of sitting) was to check every single square inch of the fence to find weak points, which he would then push and push at until he was able to escape. This is a very annoying trick, sort of like the teenager that escapes out the bedroom window in the middle of the night. He would then run around the neighborhood getting into trouble. Pretty much everybody within a 6 or 7 block radius knew both of us, usually because I’d wave at them as I chased Micheal through their backyards cursing him out in every language that I knew.
Micheal pulled some pretty cute stunts in his time. Once, he snuck into a neighbor’s house via their dog door. I knocked on the front door to ask them if I could come in and get my dog and they said, “we don’t have your dog!” while Micheal wagged his tail right behind them.
However, most of the time it was a lot less cute and a whole lot more annoying. Many times I chased him around the neighborhood for hours in the dark only to give up to go to bed exhausted at midnight and he would start barking and howling in the middle of the street right outside my house. This is sort of a doggie equivalent for getting a call in the middle of the night from the cops that your kid was found drunk at a party outside of town. If this is how much trouble and expense a DOG is, then I wanted nothing to do with a baby.
Today I had a very bad walk with the dogs. Meara found some seriously nasty poo to roll in and when I threw her in the ditch to rinse her off (as I usually do when she rolls in poo) she swam to the other side and wouldn’t swim back. When she finally did after much cajoling, she promptly ran away from me like I was the devil, making me feel like shit. Then Malcolm did a very bad thing which I won’t elaborate on (he didn’t hurt a sheep) but by the end of it I was nearly crying and out of breath and so angry and screaming that he went to the other person on the walk as he was scared by me.
I came home, still very, very upset and one of my first thoughts was, “I would make a terrible mother.”
My next thought was, “Ohshutthefuckupwiththatlineofthought he’s a dog!!!“.
I don’t know why I, so often, find myself extrapolating experiences out and finding fault with my ability to mother children that I do not have. I mean, I know people who have the best behaved dogs on the planet that I would never in a million years want to have children (and visa versa, but that’s another story altogether!). A friend of mine once told me that kids were, in some ways, a little easier than dogs (she had 4 kids and 4 dogs). Eventually, the kids grew-up, but dogs stop at around 3 years old (when compared to children). You cannot reason with a dog like you can with an older child. Dogs do not have an extremely good sense of cause and effect (except, for some reason, when treats are involved, then they become bloody geniuses!). Dogs are centuries of breeding for specific tasks (usually some sort of hunting or herding) and we anthropomorphize them into becoming substitute humans. They are animals with their own agendas, not always in sync with ours, and usually fueled by instincts that they can no more control than we can control our need for oxygen.
Still. Pretty decent birth control if I say so myself. Having pets has made me think, perhaps more than I should, about the level of responsibility that comes along with being fully accountable for another life. And dealing with the messes that that other life can create.
*Micheal would also kick all men who entered the house in the nads as a way of greeting. This is also a pretty effective birth control come to think of it!