Remember when I told Robb he shouldn’t get a puppy?
Well I did promise on Facebook and in the comments to talk about the pros of puppy-hood, and then I sat down to write it and it was hard. I have disdain for expressions of affection.
It hasn’t always been that way, but lately I don’t like, “honey,” “sweetie” or “babe.” There’s just no way to say them and not somehow come across as patronizing and condescending as though the person I am talking to, however dear to my heart they might be, is a small child.
So yes, I don’t usually use terms of endearment. Hell, I struggle to express positive emotions. I’m comfortable with anger, fear, regret, annoyances and negativity. But throw me some happiness; and fuck all if I know what to do except smile stupidly.
However I am endeavoring to change this with the cutest puppy in the universe with a face that just says, “baby talk is appreciated.” So after much struggles to get in touch with loving emotions, I bring you reasons to own a puppy. (Or other cute cuddly critter of your choice.)
1. The snuggles
When Zed is not around, he has a replacement. The puppy!
Truthfully even when Zed is around Archer gets loved on an awful lot. He is great at cuddling and loves to nap with me. The best feeling in the world is watching TV with a dog curled up on my feet. So comfy, so cute!
There’s something super sweet about knowing every time I come home a little fur ball is excited to see me. (Even if it does mean he pees everywhere.) It’s nice to have something to take care of, to throw all my nurturing, mothering instincts on to all the time. And he can’t complain! I mean he probably thinks he’s freakin’ go it made what with the regular food, walks, play dates, snuggles and snacks, but as the giver it’s pretty satisfying to watch a little thing grow up.
Even if it is just a dog. Conveniently I am way more comfortable with rolling with the punches when small children are around now. As an exercise in patience, raising a puppy has done more to calm me down than any other life activity.
Although I still struggle with calm, patience and routine, the pup is a good reminder of why it’s nice.
2. The people
I don’t know what exactly it is about a dog that makes people better. (Or makes me like people more.) On our walks, Archer is the harbinger of conversations.
“Oh, look at that puppy!”
“Can I take a picture?”
“What kind of dog is she?” (They always think the boy is a girl. It’s white fur, peeps, not genitalia.)
Strangers are pretty comfortable with trying to pet him, even though his default is to hide behind me. At the dog park, waiting for a light to change, hustling him to finish his business, it really doesn’t’ matter where my dog is or what he is doing, people want to talk to him.
But dogs can’t talk, so they are stuck talking to me.
And dare I say, it’s…nice. I’ve met many more of my neighbors since I’ve started dragging Archer around. I’ve met a lot more dogs too. For the most part, it’s a positive experience, the chats bring a little moment of human connection. While I’m slightly embarrassed by Archer’s shyness, I’m thankful for the opportunity to just talk to other people. For the most part, they’re pretty nice guys and gals with their own dog stories to share.
3. The activity
I am not by nature a particularly healthy person. I’ve been blessed with skinny genes and high metabolism. Occasionally I do yoga, Pilates or go for a run, but none of it is regular activity. Even now I’m doing my best to devour a pound of pretzels as I type this.
However a dog that must be walked means a human must walk, too. I do my damned best to make sure we don’t do much more physical activity than the minimum required, but just being outside more often is invigorating. I love the discovery of the neighborhood and the city our wanderings have taken us too. Without a pup, I wouldn’t know how close I live to Memory Grove, City Creek Canyon or the Children’s Museum.
(I also wouldn’t have a chance to keep tabs on the neighborhood real estate which is a slightly different obsession.)
I totally get why dogs are an outdoor persons’ thing now. And I think my 40-pound pooch was a nice compromise for my inner couch potato who needs an ass kicking out-of-doors every once in a while. And maybe someday, he’ll be well enough trained we can even try some off leash adventures.
4. The structure
There is something nicely reassuring about knowing each day the dog will wake up with the dawn and need to wee, walk and eat all before the sun is fully over the Wasatch Mountains.
It’s not as though I can’t live with routine, but the dog has forced me to figure out a schedule. It keeps him happier (and asleep at night) and keeps me more productive. Although I can’t control a lot of aspects of my day to day, like when sources can interview, just having a bookend to each day is really nice. Our morning routine and bedtime routine are pretty set by now. I honestly think the morning and evening walks make it easier for me to take care of myself.
Maybe that’s silly or immature or whatever, but I’ve always struggled to stick to a schedule on my own, with a dog around it’s easier for me to heft the responsibility of regularity.
As I said the cost of loving Archer and living with him is extremely high and sometimes much more difficult than I anticipated, but I’m not ready to trade him in. I love my monster.
I mean look at those goddamned ears! And that face! It’s like a bat, cat, doggie baby that just needs to be squeed over!
Isn’t that just the crux of human-ness though, “Fuck all logic, it feels nice to have this thing to take care of, so I will.” Well played evolution, well played.