Why do we have dogs, I wonder sometimes? They’re cute and do funny shit, sure. And somedays they’re that friend who’ll listen when you need to talk. People are fickle and selfish and animals, we tell ourselves, are selfless and loyal. They’ll always be there for us, companions regardless how we feel.
And while this is true, much of the Hollywood sparkle around having pets is manufactured bullshit. Let me share a few experiences with my dog, Marley…
He was named after the dog in that movie, Marley And Me. I had to come up with a name on the spot because the breeder needed it for the microchip. It was the first name that popped into my head. She laughed and said I might want to reconsider, that the name would jinx it. That he’d end up being just like the dog in the movie – destructive, full of energy and being a major pain in the ass more often than not. I thought what were the odds. It’s just a name
Over the past week he has destroyed two 5 foot tall banana trees. An impressive feat for a 7 month old puppy Labrador. He’s rooted up a half-dozen pot plants. One large rectangular plant was excavated so utterly that he was covered head to toe in black mud. A few weeks back he destroyed a coffee table by ramming into it while charging around the house like a kid on a sugar high. I don’t know what was going through his retarded dog brain at the time. Slamming into something at 300 miles an hour for shits and giggles seems to be order of the day.
I’ve managed to train him to sit and walk properly on a leash and even give me a high-five. He’s highly intelligent, but also completely out of control if left alone. He digs up everything, chews everything, drools everywhere and smells like a toilet if not washed at least once a week. He keeps trying to rape the other poor old 12 year old terrier in the house. He needs to be walked for about an hour every day after I get back from gym or he gets particularly obnoxious. Almost like revenge.
The dog is a ton of work. I really had no idea it would be like this. The harder I try to placate him, sometimes, the more wound up he gets. I’ve read dog books, watched countless Dog Whisperer shows and the only thing that’s become apparent is that having a dog = work. Constant, nonstop, work. I can’t come home from my job and just chill out anymore. The dog has to be walked, after that the dog has to be played with and given attention/training. The rest of the evening, every evening is spent trying to keep him out of trouble as he paces around the house and yard actively looking for trouble of some kind. Whether that’s’ harassing the other two dogs, destroying plants (what did they ever do to you?) or doing his damnedest to emulate Arnie in Predator, coating himself in sticky black slime in order to evade the Tall One in his mission to defile my couch or bed or something.
Despite it all, of course, I adore the mutt. He’s a part of my life now, for better or worse. But I’ve come to second guess my decision to get him, which obviously makes me feel guilty. I can’t spend hours playing games on PC or Xbox every night any more, which is probably what I miss the most. That free time. Having a dog means dedication. It means responsibility. Is he fed, does he have water, has he been brushed. Has the poop been disposed of. This is a particularly big deal. A big, stinky deal.
A dog is a living, breathing, thinking creature, and it depends on you entirely, and will for its entire lifespan. Think twice before getting a puppy. When, not if, your adorable ball of fur becomes a 40-kilo whirlwind of destruction, it’s not a problem you can solve by ignoring it. Too many dogs become unwanted and end up in pounds and SPCA’s. So really. Think about it. Dogs can be a great friend but like any relationship, they need work. Just because it’s an animal doesn’t, in fact, mean it’s unconditional.