Saturday, May 12, 2012

Man's Best Friend?

Elvis has not left the building...but he's hanging by a thread.  Our dog's name has never been more appropriate.  Once the definitive heartthrob of his generation, our boxer is now the canine equivalent of a fat, sweaty, pill-popper with just enough lingering familiarity in his eyes to trigger the nostalgia that allows you to forgive the fact that he now does karate in ill-fitting jumpsuits.

When Elvis (the singer) was under the influence of pills, he disappointed fans by butchering the songs they loved.  When Elvis (the devil) was under the influence of baby-jealousy he responded by doing the same to a silver pair of flip-flops that Summer loved.  Had I let Summer respond the way she wanted, our Elvis would have wished for a fate as dignified as a heart-attack on the shitter.

I talked her into letting him live.  I had to.

Being an appropriately balanced parent and dog-owner is a challenge, but also a tremendous opportunity.  Here's why - dog people are the worst offenders of an annoying sub-culture that projects human qualities on their pets, and parents of young children are self-absorbed dipshits.  When properly executed, being a member of each group can mean striking a balance that minimizes the annoyance of both.

I have seen and heard numerous parents of young children cop a self-righteous attitude when a childless dog owner openly speaks about pet ownership as parenting.  As a dog owner with a month of fatherhood under my belt, I feel confident in saying, kids and dogs...not that different.  Having a dog made us more accountable.  A higher degree of planning is required for social outings and weekend getaways.  And yesterday, Gabe literally pooped on the carpet.

On the other hand, there isn't much more ridiculous than dressing dogs in people clothes.  Now that I have a son to spoil, the chances of me buying my dog a baseball jersey are hovering around 3%, down considerably from the 98% likelihood that existed in March.  So there's that.

I will replace as many pairs of flip-flops as it takes to maintain this exercise in balance because the most important responsibility I have is to raise my son to be the best, happiest person he can be, and I think there are certain lessons that are unique to the experience of having a great pet that you love and look after...unless it's a cat.

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