It was not long ago (last week, actually) that I thought that I just could not face the unmet needs of another living creature. Then my three little living creatures went away without me for a while, and the space that opened in my day and in my mind began to welcome the idea of a dog.
(I would much, much rather have a cat. I like their independence, their aloofness. I like that they don’t need picking up after. But we have allergies in this house that will not permit feline company.)
For so long I felt swamped by the needs of my children, but I have begun to look up and look about me. I can do more. I can take on more. I don’t feel in constant need of rescue, and, in fact, I feel perfectly able to help others. A tip of balance has taken place, putting me up above the morass of maternal obligation, giving me a wider view. I could welcome a dog. I could do it.
And then a little voice inside me says, “It’s a trap! The kids are nearly all at school full time. This is your time. Do not take on the burden of another young thing.”
When does the balance tip between feeling burdened by the dependence of a loved one and so enriched by it that you forget the obligation?
We are close, very close, but it will not happen soon. My eldest son, 12, just returned from a winter camping and dog sledding trip and is all enamoured of dogs. He came upstairs the other night, after dinner and hockey practice and showering and doing homework, with a speech ready to persuade us of his ability to take care of a dog and of all the merits of having a family pet.
“Hold on,” I said. “Before you begin this speech in earnest, have you taken out the garbage?”
“And have you, by any chance, emptied the dishwasher?”
“Good point. I will be right back.”
I believe his speech will take some fine tuning. I did not say, “no.” Instead, we gave him a research project to find out the best options for breeds, adoption, etc.
In the mean time, my husband and I bring up the topic occasionally, and weigh the pros and cons. Looking, looking for that balance, that moment when things will tip us into the realm of canine love and dependence.