Josh has been talking about getting a dog for a while, since before we even moved into the new house two years ago. We agreed that a dog small enough to fit in an apartment was not big enough for us. And then once we were in a house with 0.56 acres to call our own, he said we needed a fence. I didn't see why we needed a fence, but all that dog stuff was his idea anyway.
He grew up in a dogs-in-the-house home, while I grew up with parents who were adamantly against any kind of pet in the house, except for special circumstances. An example of a special circumstance is when one of my dad's goats had kids and then refused to nurse them. So Daddy bottle-fed some goats in the kitchen. They might have escaped his grasp a couple of times and taken a nice jog through the house, trip-trap trip-trap. All our various pets were outdoor animals. Based on their behavior, which was that of outdoor animals, I had to conclude that my parents were right about them not belonging in the house. On the rare occasions that I met indoor pets, I was annoyed by them, because they were either in the way, begging for food, or leaving hair all over the place. Why would anyone want that?
Since I've branched out into the world, I've met some indoor pets that make it look like a good idea. For one thing, they weren't goats. Plus, they were housebroken and snuggly, unlike so many of the half-feral cats that I chased all over my parents' land in an attempt to hold them and squeeze them and never let them go. Maybe this pets-in-the-house thing wasn't so crazy after all. I spent some time with very Good Pets. They still were sometimes in the way and there was still a lot of animal hair lying around, but also there was another member of the family, one that licked food off the floor and barked at strangers.
Given my new positive experiences with indoor animals, I became open to the idea of getting a dog that would live in our house. But it was sort of like the way my mother is open to having goats outside - whatever you want, as long as I don't have to do anything about it. Sometimes I would spend some time with a Good Dog, and I became more motivated to get my own canine companion for a few days. But my enthusiasm would be quickly spent by the thought of the fence, which Josh wanted to build himself. We talked about what kind of dog and fence we wanted, but it was all talk. In two years, the closest we got to getting a dog was buying a set of used post-hole diggers. It sounds like we didn't really want a dog all that much. I wanted a dog, but I understood that it would be a new responsibility and expense. I was willing to take on that additional load, but in the meantime I was also enjoying not having to do so.
One time, I got really motivated about the dog, and so we measured the backyard, marking out where the fence would go. Having made some progress, I promptly lost the slip of paper where I wrote down the measurements. Then I got motivated again and told Josh that I was going to hire someone to build the fence while he was out on tour. I was just trying to get closer to our end goal, but he took this as a challenge to his manhood. He told his coworkers that his crazy girlfriend was making him build a fence so we could get a dog. Unsurprisingly, they inferred from his colorful storytelling that I was demanding hours of back-breaking labor so that I could get something dainty and cute that would then supplant his place in the household. This backfired on him when they started giving me tips about how to get him on board with the whole dog idea. While I wondered whether he ever actually wanted a dog at all, I began plotting to just get one anyway. He said he wanted a dog, and I like to take people at their word, especially when I get something that I want and it serves to punish them for being dishonest.
Then one night he came home and asked if I wanted a puppy - an actual, physical pupppy, not some theoretical future puppy that was contingent on a fence. It even came with a good story.
It was a dark and stormy night when his boss was driving home. A black cat skittered across the road in front of him, spooking him. All of a sudden, he saw a tiny dog barrelling down the middle of the street, straight at his headlights. He swerved and stopped in time. When he got out, the dog stood frozen in the road, trembling. He took it home. No tags, no microchip, just a suicidal puppy that was now his responsibility.
See? It's a good story. We told him that we would take the dog, and I set to thinking about names and collars and teaching it to sit. I thought about raising such a very Good Dog that would show my parents that you can live with dogs in the house. We were told it was a little bit boxer, a little bit pit bull. Josh saw a video of it on a cell phone and said it was all cute. He promised to build a fence. I did not care whether we ever built a fence. That was his arbitrary requirement, not mine.
Talk about motivation. A carrot had been dangled in front of me, except it was a furry cute carrot with sweet breath and too big paws. Though we had been dragging our feet for years about getting a dog that we supposedly wanted, now we felt like the Universe was giving us a dog. It needed us, so it was time to step up to dog-ownership. This was bigger than a fence; it was fate.
Puppy Anticipation is an intense and all-encompassing feeling. I coyly asked coworkers about recommendations for local veterinarians, just so I could mention, oh by the way, I'M GETTING A PUPPY. My thoughts were all puppies, all the time; I felt like a ten-year-old. To be more specific, I felt like a ten-year-old in the internet age, as I performed rampant googling to find out everything I could about boxers and pit bulls. Also, I just looked at pictures of puppies and went "Awww, super cute!" Rampant Googling is an effective balm for Puppy Anticipation.
Two days after we agreed to take in stray dog, just as a favor, we found out that Josh's boss had decided to keep the dog instead. Josh wasn't told directly. It was more like he was told several times how attached the little girl in the house had become to the puppy. Apparently, she promised to take real good care of it herself and she was totally also going to keep her room clean from now on, please-oh-please-daddy-can-we-keep-it.
I'll just let you know that Puppy Disappointment is every bit as intense as Puppy Anticipation. We acted like someone had taken away our puppy, which, as far as we were concerned, they had. After hours of sulking, I finally made peace with my lost puppy when I thought about the little girl who probably had every intention of taking very good care of it. As a grown-up, I should be better able to handle Puppy Disappointment.
Plus, as a grown-up, I can just go out and get a puppy whenever I want. I don't have to wait for the Universe to hand me one, and I don't even have to promise to keep my room clean. I am in control of my own puppy destiny.