Life in the Doghouse

(From my archives)

For twelve years we held our ground. “No animals in the house!” we vowed. Against a steady barrage of pleading from our two children, their dad and I budged not an inch. We stood firm when they paraded past us beautiful beagles, terriers, poodles and mutts belonging to their friends. “A dog will shed,” we reasoned. “It’ll ruin the furniture, keep us up at night, and destroy the carpeting. It makes no sense for this family to get a dog.”

Therein lay our first mistake—thinking that the matter of pet ownership was subject to reason. The kids offered no rebuttal to our logic. “But we want one,” they simply said.

We realize now that we made a tactical error by agreeing to visit the animal shelter for a casual look-see. There they were, the enemy, lined up in cages for us to view: big dogs and small ones, long-hairs and short, quiet dogs and rowdy ones. They looked out between the bars and barked in unison, “Take me home!”

“We’re not set up to care for a dog,” we argued. “We take lots of trips. Our yard is too small. We know nothing about training animals.”

“But we want one,” said our opponents.

That was two months ago. Since then we have been sharing our house with Ginger, a rambunctious, mixed-breed pup. First, she was to stay in the backyard. Then cold weather hit. All right, she could come in but only into the family room. Okay, she would be allowed to roam the house but under no circumstances was she to be on the furniture. Now I practically have to ask Ginger’s permission before sitting down in my own recliner. “You can have it for now,” she barks, “but I get it back when Those Amazing Animals comes on.”

My husband and I look at each other, the stress of constant defeat showing on our faces. “Why do we have this dog?” we ask each other. From another part of the house comes the answer, “Because we want her.”

Many of the things we once valued have now exited our house by way of the trash can. But of course nothing that gets put into the trash can stays there without Ginger dragging it out for one last inspection. I once came home to find two banana peels, a shredded cereal box, a tooth-marked shampoo bottle, and three days’ worth of newspapers scattered across the living room floor. There sat Ginger, innocently tilting her head at me as if to ask, “When are you going to clean up this place?”

Plus, Ginger has provided me with many new experiences. I now know what it’s like to vacuum the house with a quaking dog firmly attached to my right ankle. I have gotten up in the middle of the night and stepped in puddles that did not exist when I went to bed. I’ve attempted to carry on sane conversations with repairmen while having a crazed animal sniffing at my crotch.

A friend of mine often jokes about sending her husband to live in the doghouse. Ha! I live in a doghouse now! I dream of residing in a home where there is no trace of dog hair, no chewed-up furniture, and not a whiff of puppy urine in the air.

Come to think of it, I may know of just such a place. In the corner of our backyard sits a neat little house, never used, totally untouched by canine paws. The printing above the door declares that it belongs to someone named Ginger, but, hey, turnabout is fair play. That little house may be the perfect place for me to curl up and finish that novel I have started reading—the one with the cover ripped off it.

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6 thoughts on “Life in the Doghouse”

  1. Absolutely loved this story! Don’t have a dog, but there are 8 cats here and they certainly add to the “charm” of the place. Ginger sounds like the life of the party.

  2. Gotta love em. I don’t really think we are made to be empty nesters. It’s great for a little while, but then we just got to have someone/thing to care for and disrupt our lives. Congratulations !

  3. Loved the humor in this piece, Debbie! Oh, the things we do because our children want them, huh? I can’t imagine not having our cat Jewel, who is curled up next to me right now. She is sleeping peacefully, her soft breathing in contrast to the noisy dryer sounds in the background. She has one paw covering her eyes, and her soft, velvety paws are resting on me. I wouldn’t have it any other way! Watching Jewel and interacting with her has even taught me some things about God. 🙂

  4. This sounds so familiar. We ended up with 3 dogs and 2 cats at one time when my children were at home. My husband had a soft spot for dogs and his children.

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