Thursday, November 25, 2010

Rethinking Dogs

I'm seven months married and Christy is three months pregnant.  She sends me back to the car to get a form we're missing for the DMV.  A lady asks me to sign a petition to turn all animal shelters into no-kill shelters.  I pleasantly decline.  Christy then asks me to get the M & M 's she'd left.  Again, the lady asks me and again I pleasantly decline.  It happens a third time when I go back to get her water bottle.  

It's not that I oppose direct democracy, per se, but that I don't see the utility in this particular ballot measure. When schools are chronically underfunded, I do not want tax payers voting to keep unwanted animals alive.  

This time as I decline, the lady says, "What, you don't love animals?" 

I respond, "To eat! Otherwise, not so much."  

It's not my kindest moment and the woman realizes it.  She shoots me a horrified look, as though I just gave a Heil Hitler, but this quickly turns to pity.  The woman looks down on my lack of compassion. 

"I'm sorry.  I know that you really believe in this and I respect what you're doing, volunteering your time and all.  It's just that I'm not a pet person."  

*     *     *
Six years later, I'm sitting on the couch.  Skye sighs heavily, letting me know in the gentlest way possible that she wants to play.  I'm tired, but I oblige.  And so begins a rousing game of chase.  Bizarre.  I'm a grown man chasing a Scottish Terrier around the tile floor and then letting her chase me.  

On some level, I still don't get the love of pets.  I don't understand paying exorbitant amounts of money on food and surgery and customized chew toys.  A pet is, after all, just a pet. Yet, in having a pet, I notice that I pay closer attention to body language.  I'm a little more patient.  Not a lot, but enough to realize that pets play a bigger role in life than I had once imagined. 

I'm not one to write a book about how I can learn about God through whispering to sheep dogs.  Nor am I one to call the animal who licks its ass "a member of our family."  Still, Skye has her place in our home and oddly enough, I'm glad she's around.  

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