The dreaded dog debate

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Tuesday 25th October 2011

Oh dear. The dreaded pet debate has raised its fluffy head again. My children’s young cousin is about to become the proud owner of a puppy and my usually laid-back teenagers are green with envy.

They claim they are deprived children because they’ve never owned a pet. Well, apart from a sickly goldfish in a polythene bag that my daughter won at a fair. It swam listlessly round its tank a few times, survived less than 24 hours and she never clamoured for another.

But dogs are different. Over the years they’ve come up with a host of arguments about having a puppy in the house. They’d call it Coco and promise faithfully they’d be in charge of feeding, washing and taking it for walks. My daughter’s stance isn’t at all convincing bearing in mind that we live in Oxford and she’s just moved into a student flat in Shoreditch, but still.

Deep down I know (and I reckon they do too) that there’s one person who’d end up on 24/7 dog duty – and that would be me. Several friends whose children faithfully promised to take sole charge of the family dog report the novelty wore off within weeks and then they were lumbered for life. Katie, a Lancashire pal who’s admittedly grown fond of her children’s Labrador, reckons the dog’s far more trouble than a baby. So far the puppy has chewed gaping holes in the sofa and Katie’s Nicole Farhi jacket, howls if she’s ever left on her own and as for training – hmmm, let’s just say there’s quite some way to go.

I still feel mean for not agreeing to my teenagers’ dearest wish though. And I wobbled a few years back when I discovered my son sadly herding a gang of snails (all named, of course) into a little enclosure outside the back door.

“I’m never going to have a pet so I’ve decided that these will have to do instead,” he said morosely.

18 comments so far

  • My sister-in-law gave into the Dog Demand and took on a beautiful labrador puppy. Kids lost interest the minute he wasn’t a puppy. Now they’re off with their friends and, as predicted, she looks after him. So sad. C : ) xx

  • The looking after is not the problem- The vulnerability of the attachment is. Carolyn and Sarah still suffer the very painful loss of Tessie. Despite not being a great dog lover still miss her a lot.
    When Carolyn’s next post is sorted I will be pressing for a cat. I will lobby hard for 1 or 2 Chocolate tabby Siamese! 🙂

  • That is exactly what would happen in my house, Carole! Teenagers are well-intentioned but v busy with friends, school, university etc! Thanks for your comment – it’s helped a lot!

  • Thank you for commenting, Anonymous. It’s sad to hear about losing Tessie. I hope you are all right and get your two tabby cats. They sound gorgeous!

  • Since January I have been walking an elderly couple’s Golden Retriever, Henry. He was in desperate need of exercise, as was I. Now we run a couple of miles three or more times a week.
    The children are desperate for a puppy, and I may well give in, but not yet. I’d like a little me time now they are more independent. And anyway, Henry needs me …

    Another solution would be to foster whilst they are on holiday – so short term commitment, but still the fun?

  • Thanks so much for the brilliant suggestions, Linsey and Kate. Borrowing a dog sounds like the perfect solution to the dreaded dog debate.

  • My sisters and I begged our parents for a dog. When they got us one, hooray hooray, a springer spaniel, we named her Twinkle. Honest. We loved her and fought over whose bed she would sleep on. But we lost interest in taking her out after about nine months of twice daily walks in rain, cold etc. It was nice in the summer but in the winter we really really didn’t want to and we had many blazing rows about whose turn it was.
    So of course our parents got stuck with her. We felt a bit guilty but not guilty enough to actually walk her. And when we moved out, Twinkle lived on for another six years. I think my mum really misses her!

    So, what I am saying is, DON’T DO IT. Unless you want to reshape your life around picking up dog poo twice a day…

  • Thanks for your warning, Anonymous. I think I probably don’t want to reshape my life around that! But I hope your mum is OK and coping without your dog.

  • Do you really want to have a poop scoop and plastic bag as permanent fixtures for the rest of your life, lose all freedom of movement, face exorbitant vet fees, the grief of early loss and molted hair on your little black number. I really don’t think so. My first pet West Highland Terrier, called Morven, went mad when I took up the violin and tried to savage my baby sister when she grasped back the pink rubber elephant he had stolen from her.

  • Lovely to hear from you, Colin. I hope you’ve recovered from that v traumatic experience with your West Highland terrier. I think your comments have decided me against a dog once and for all!

  • Bit late, but just had to comment since I’ve been enduring (and blogging about) the same dilemma, only with cats in question. Pets, apparently, are vital to child development. Held out for two years but have just acquired boy kittens and now live amid filth, stench and morning rows about litter tray duty. Save your energies for the French house

  • Thank you for your advice, AMM. I think you’re right – I should concentrate on the House with no Name rather than pets. But good luck with your kittens and I look forward to following your blog.

  • I wish I had gone down the no pet route from the beginning. don’t get me wrong, I love them dearly and they do enrich my life, sometimes, when they’re not vomitting on the carpet. But the work is never ending.

    When your lot grow up and leave home, then there’s plenty of time for pets!

  • Thanks for commenting, Herding Cats. I think you’re right – and I might get a dog one day, but not right now. Good luck with your perts though. I’m sure they’re great company.

  • Oh we had the same in our home Emma, ALL the children wanted a dog….but with four children we felt it would be too much (and I thought I didn’t like them). The children always made me feel guilty. But as mentioned above, we have the best arrangement now as our youngest daughter has two and I walk them every day. My sisters and friends laugh I was so anti dog…and I am now a fully fledged ‘doggy’ person!
    Another film….

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