When to Get a Pet?


Answer:  Never…if you’ve got a temperament that won’t abide them or your life situation won’t allow it.

(The pen was something like this, but looking at it, “What self-respecting dog would want to be in this all day?”  It doesn’t allow for a good romp (something essential for larger dogs) and it guarantees boredom.  No wonder mine barked as soon as I drove the car up the driveway.)

Oh, I tried…I really did.  I had two dogs and both situations turned out disastrous. The first was a glorious yellow lab (I wanted sweet temperament), a birthday gift for my older daughter, on her 10th. birthday.  The problem?  She (the dog–not the child) came into our lives at the same time my husband’s older daughter, husband, and 11 year old son came to stay with us—for months. “Mandy” got used to them being around all the time, the many walks, the frequent outside visits to do her business.

When they left and I went back to work (following summer recess,) she no doubt had a doggy nervous breakdown, of sorts, for she exploded into a vindictive animal who unleashed her fury all over the house. ‘Cow chips’  is an accurate term to describe what she left in various locations. We knew it wasn’t “she just couldn’t hold it,” for they appeared deliberate and everywhere.

That was the year we teachers went on strike for 13 days and picket lines got contentious as drivers in cars passed us, telling us what they thought of us.  It wasn’t enough to verbalize their rage;  they added mid-finger flair.  I’d limp on home, following such, to clean up the many ‘accidents’ Mandy had.

On the 13th. day, I sat in front of my house, looking at the remnants of screen flaps, hanging out from the jalousied windows. She’d ripped the entire screen out with her claws.

Since I was at the end of my rope, Mandy had to go, and I gave a dog that cost me $450.00 to a nice family who had a farm in a neighboring rural community. If they’d demurred, I might have paid them to take her.

Foolishly I’d shared my ordeal with students in class, and a youngster piped up with “Mrs. Mellor, our dog just had puppies.  You can have one.”  I asked what breed and she answered:  “A poodle.”  In my mind’s eye, I saw a cute little thing sitting on the window as I pulled up.  I knew poodles were smart, so I thought:  She’ll train, easily.

Not so.  “Corny” (for Cornelius) had a habit of eating the linoleum strips (like they were Beggin’ Strips) off the back stairs, all the more upsetting since we’d just had the new floor put down.  I read all the booklets that told me what to do,  made a mix of horseradish, and smeared it all over those steps.

But Corny was unique, for she liked the mixture and it never deterred her.  She liked another, too, one I’d find even more disturbing. Just like Mandy, she had a habit of doing her business on the floor, in many places of the kitchen (where she was corralled), but as time went on, even before I could get the pail and liquid cleaner out, I found her evidence had disappeared.  Corny had a predilection for eating her own excrement (a not unusual problem, in some dogs, I’d discover).

And the diminutive size I expected?  The vet told me on our second visit that her paws suggested her mother had tangled with a dog the size of a Great Dane.  In other words, Corny wouldn’t be sitting in any window, as I returned home.

And her ‘presents’ would grow monstrously big.

I gave the darling ‘little’ dog away, for I just couldn’t bear to be near her anymore. I felt betrayed and hopeless– a failure at puppy training.  After all, there’d been other problems, too.  When I came home and dashed into the house for a few moments, both used to mournfully look at me, suggesting “You’re not leaving me again—are you?” I even cajoled Grandfather into building an outside pen, so they could get fresh air, but as soon as I pulled into the driveway, they barked incessantly, wanting company, and I still had errands to do.

I walked them in the cold, bleak rain before school, when it was still dark out, and I cleaned up after them, at the end of my day.  It was never their fault, but it wasn’t mine, either.

If the truth be told, I resented them…As a single, working Mom, I found them just another “job” I took on in an already-cluttered day.  With that realization, I knew that perhaps the kindest thing I could do is not bring a pet into my household…at least not in that period of my life.

But, what are your thoughts on this? Did you go through the “I should get the kids a pet” (only to discover you did all the work)? Did you get one later in life and discover then it did work out?

And click on this link  to discover why my second dog had that disturbing eating habit (as well as find out dogs have anorexia and bulimia).  I opted for explanation #6, #7, or #8 as reason, but anyway I looked at it, it wasn’t pleasant, as in “I drive a canine to madness.”

See ‘they’ really are just ‘little people with fur!’

Now, here’s the list  of America’s top dog breeds (***Hint…2 of mine are on it.) Share your own doggie story below, at Comment section. It’ll be like a Group Therapy session to get it off your chest.



About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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