Six months ago, after two years of lobbying, I finally talked my wife into getting a puppy. I have such fond memories of the black labrador I grew up with and wanted our three children to have the same experience, but to start with my wife was immovable, maintaining that a dog was too much responsibility and predicting that most of the work would fall to her.
I swore blind that the training, walking and all responsibility would be first and foremost mine and that the most expected of her would be to buy dog food if she was the one doing the weekly shop. Our youngest child is nine, so I said the three of them could help as well as enjoy a puppy. I have no idea what I was thinking when I said that.
She was still dubious, but I made her laugh by drawing up an elaborate document detailing all the work required, with my solemn promise – witnessed by two pals in the pub – that her life wouldn’t change in any way. She definitely wavered when I showed her a report about children and lack of exercise and extolled the benefits of getting them out and running around with a dog. I reminded her that our eldest is starting exams next year and how good it would be for her fitness and mental health to have a furry shoulder to cry on when she goes off us – as she invariably will – as well as an excuse to make her take some exercise every day.
I finally got her with a promise that if she came with me to see a litter of pups and honestly felt a dog wasn’t for her, I would leave the subject in peace and never mention it again. I was being crafty as I thought no one could resist a pup – and so it proved. From the moment that a fat, ungainly labrador puppy collapsed in her lap she was in love and I was onto a winner.
Despite being enchanted, she is a very practical woman and only gave the final yes when I promised, yet again, that all the work was mine.
The kids, needless to say, were ecstatic, and we pondered puppy pads, leads and collars, dog beds and bowls. The only telly we watched was about dog training and we nodded sagely at each other when our furry bundle came home and fell over his own feet. Of course the kids were interested in training for about five minutes and now just fight over whose lap he’s going to sit on.
My wife thinks he’s gorgeous and sometimes join me for walks at the weekends if she has time; but just as I promised, everything falls to me – and I’m so bored. Occasionally I enjoy our walks, but Labradors need lots of exercise and constant training – and I realize now that my parents did all the hard work around my childhood pet.
I hate walking in the rain, picking up poop and always having to think of the dog if I’m organizing a night out or a holiday. I should have got him in my single days as, women fall over me to get to him when we’re out – but apart from that, the great benefits of pet ownership escape me.
After such a determined campaign, I can’t admit that the relaity of having a dog is not as wonderful as I expected it to be and ask for help. My wife is oblivious. She says things like “Aw, one man and his dog” while I set off into the dark and rain and she’s curled up with a glass of wine. But there’s no way I can give him back. I can’t believe I was such an idiot.