Kid or Dog?

Some of my closest friends and co-workers know this secret about J and I…several years ago we were discussing building our family and I was feeling unsure about expanding – right then, or really ever, for that matter. I felt good about where things were – we had a home, good careers, and I felt like I had plenty on my “plate.” But J explained he wanted to add something more and he requested that in a time frame of two years, I pick: kid or dog? (and for the record, he wanted a dog – he told me to write this!)

For those who know me well, animals are not exactly my favorite living creatures. I attempted to find a photo of me at about age 12, holding a caught fish as far away as possible (and yes, this is how I still catch fish when I’m trying to be a team-player with my fishing-loving husband). Compare it to the other photo of my sister, Rachel, with a dead pheasant in her arms, a prize from one of my dad’s many hunting trips. Neither my sister or I turned out to be good hunting partners, so it’s a good thing my parents had my brother and I married an outdoors man.


As a child, my two siblings and I went through some pets:

  • a multitude of fish who met death and then the toilet bowl
  • a hamster named Sarah (we later learned “she” was a “he”) who suspiciously died while we on a family visit (turns out my murderous mother requested its disappearance and my dad “took care of it.” I learned of this evil plot as a teen – and reacted similarly to any number of poor children who are victims of the annual “Hey Jimmy Kimmel, I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy” scheme (and which I obviously plan to do to Baby O someday – the candy scheme, not the hamster death; I’m not a monster!)
  • a couple hermit crabs from some mall kiosk
  • a pile of outdoor cats that started with two females who got frisky in the neighborhood, leading to a litter of five, which we naturally named after the Spice Girls (now referred to as the Spice Cats). This population exploded to 20 cats roaming our in-town neighborhood at one point, and the shame of us being “that cat house.”

So why would I be opposed to a dog? Well, the trauma of my animal avoidance can likely be linked to that whole hamster incident. Just kidding! (kind of) I mean, sure, everybody has a few sketchy animal run-ins. But the real reason I’m opposed to a pet: they make messes. Hey, I’m a self-proclaimed “Martha.” Don’t act like this surprises you. Dog hair on the furniture, leftover food and doggie prints on the floor – it’s just too much! I like dogs just fine – simply in your house, and not mine. And I fear a dog would be really lonely in our family. J and I both work full time and neither of us work close to home where we could go visit over lunch. And many times we are gone in the evening – especially with J working high school athletic events or coaching the girls soccer team.

So how did I respond when J requested we expand our family with a kid or dog? Without missing a beat, I picked kid. And I’m glad I did. Because even though he’s messy, at least I get to take him into public places with me.

Seriously, I’ve been surprised at how much joy he’s brought to our life. And O has really given me perspective to care less about the to-do list. I only have so much energy to spend everyday and I want to play with that little boy. He’s taking steps now and falling into my arms as he crashes, and giggles so hard when I scream for joy, making him want to do it over and over again. He loves swinging. He’s figuring out how to put objects into bags or buckets. It’s exciting to watch this little human discover new skills and abilities. And I wouldn’t trade him for the world.

I’m sure someday little O will ask me if he can get a dog. And I’ll probably melt with his cute little lip stuck out, looking sad, and say yes. But until then, I’ll enjoy this messy life with a kid – and not a dog.

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