No, not me: I already have a dog. See?
The short answer? NO, you shouldn’t.
The longer answer? Ugh, where shall I begin?
This friend listed two main reasons for not wanting a dog: her child’s allergies (which can be overcome by getting a hypo-allergenic dog) and her knowing that she would be the one cleaning up the messes (which cannot be overcome for a while, if the kids are younger, and sometimes not at all).
In my opinion, her second concern is the overriding issue. When the adult who would be the primary caretaker of any animal does not want the responsibility of the animal, no amount–NO AMOUNT–of begging or rationalizing from the children (who aren’t in charge) or the spouse should sway the desire of that person. More often than not, it backfires. In cases that I know of where the primary caretaker (mostly the mom!) of the animal was talked into it–or worn down over time, as it often happens–there’s a honeymoon period, and then everything goes down the tubes. It’s not fair to anyone when that happens. Kids, younger ones especially, don’t have the maturity or brain capacity to understand the realities of long-term pet ownership and the responsibilities that come with it. It’s the parents’ job to teach them about things like that, by sometimes making these tough calls.
What’s the worst that could happen if you give in to a request for a dog when you don’t want one? Well, I can’t say I know what the worst thing would be (though my imagination runs wild when I think about it), but I do have a cautionary tale.
A long time ago I was friends with someone who had a very different parenting style from me. She was the total opposite of me, really: she was extremely permissive and the kids ran her household. Yikes.
Her daughter, who was around ten at the time, was positively begging for a dog. BEGGING. (no pun intended, but hey: it works!) My friend kept hemming and hawing over the issue, and I highly recommended that she not give in. Naturally, the ten-year-old daughter wore my friend down and they purchased a positively adorable puppy (a mini Schnoodle) from a breeder. The puppy housetrained very quickly, and was very smart. (I loved that dog.) There was still, of course, lots to be done: feeding, walking, playing, and all of the other normal things one would do with a puppy.
At the time, I used to “borrow” the dog for afternoon visits quite often, because my own dog (Bijoux, my late, great beagle) was in the last year of her life, and having the puppy over actually seemed to make her happy. See? Matching neckerchiefs, even.
As I predicted, the honeymoon phase ended for my friend’s daughter, and after a while she didn’t even acknowledge the dog when she came home from school. My friend, of course, grew very weary of being the only one that took care of the dog 24/7. She started talking about getting rid of the dog. I was horrified. At her request, I helped her find a new home for her puppy. A guy who worked at the health club with me, along with his girlfriend, fell in love with the dog the second they laid eyes on her, and they took her in and were very happy. They ended up being the perfect family for her, and I was so glad.
The night before my co-worker took the dog home, I told my boys what was going on and that we probably wouldn’t be seeing her again. They asked me lots of questions about why my friend didn’t want the dog anymore, and I was truthful about it.
My friend told me that she was going to tell her kids that the dog ran away.
I’ll let you absorb that for a moment.
She was going to tell her kids that the dog ran away so she wouldn’t have to, what, tell them that she made a mistake? So that she could pretend that she never signed on for about 13-15 years of responsibility for an animal that depended on her?
I was furious. I told her that of course she could tell her kids whatever she wanted because they were her kids, but that I had already told my kids, who spent lots of time with her kids, the truth and that we would not be lying to her children on her behalf.
She ended up telling her kids the truth. I believe it’s because she knew she didn’t really have a choice due to my decision to be truthful.
So there you have it. It doesn’t always end that way, thank goodness, but this is just one example of why everyone in the house needs to be on board when it comes to new pets.