So, when people ask me about my ‘five year plan’, I usually screw my face up like I would if I had smelt something particularly foul. Five year plans freak me out and make me feel like less of a grown up than I really should be. I am not a planner – I know that life throws so many curve balls that it is better to have a vague idea of stuff you want to achieve maybe, rather than set things you want to do in the next five years. That said, there was always one concrete thing that I always proffered up when asked the five year plan question – a dog. I wanted a dog in the next five years. And not a hand bag dog, a proper dog. Which meant I needed a proper house with a proper garden, and a work life balance that would accommodate said dog. So, I guess you could say my five year plan was to an extent dictated by my dog dreams. But, after a weekend of looking after a four month old puppy, I am beginning to rethink this whole dog thing.
I know. This is SHOCKING news! Me, the self professed dog lover who takes regular walks at Meola Reef just to check out the dog talent, saying she is not sure about having a dog now. But, I just didn’t properly realise, they are really hard work – especially at this age! We have had family dogs before, but the first I was too young to remember what she was like as a puppy (aside from being adorable) and the second I was overseas for her reign of puppy terror, and by the time I returned she was a randomly annoying pooch, but also super cute. So this is the first time I have been in sole charge of a puppy who is pushing the boundaries of discipline. And it really is much more like having a child than I realised. But the thing that makes them worse than kids? You can’t bribe them. Sure, treats work to an extent, but not always. And they won’t stop them from biting a hole in your new favourite jumper during a bout of boisterousness. Kids, at least the ones I know, don’t bite so much…
When I examine my reasons for wanting to have a dog – a lot of it relates to feelings of contentment and happiness that I had when hanging out with my childhood dog. She was a super adorable – yet super stupid – golden retriever, and was just the best company ever. And dogs get you – they know when you are feeling down and need some cuteness in your general vicinity. Rosie was a master at that. But as puppies – they haven’t developed those skills yet. It takes a while to get past the basics of doing what they’re told and not biting, chewing, running away with polar fleeces/cushions/bracelets/shoes/socks etc and into the ‘we are just great company and your best friend ever’ territory. And I have no doubt that my nephew-dog Luca will totally get there, but it’s gonna take a while. And do I think I have what it takes to get through that stage and bring up a puppy? Honestly, I am not so sure.
Which leaves me with two options – get a grown up dog or make do with feline friends. The former is appealing in that it takes an unwanted dog and gives it a home, but there is the risk of said dog having so much baggage from previous owners than you end up effectively going through the puppy phase anyway. Plus, there just aren’t that many golden retrievers needing homes since they are the most adorable things, except maybe Red Pandas, on four legs. Which leaves cats. I have always been an equal opportunity pet lover – and had both cats and dogs growing up (as well as horses, rabbits, goats and a possum). Now, thanks to my living situation, I only have a cat. And a super awesome one at that. Her awesomeness seems amplified after a weekend with the puppy too. Things like her independence, her ability to take herself for walks and let herself out for the toilet, her lack of big teeth, her inability to bark and her super cuddly nature seem to be, right now, tipping the balance in favour of the felines.
I have to say it is independence which is probably the biggest thing. I can go away for weekends and as long as someone (and she really doesn’t mind who) pops by to feed her, Katniss will be super fine. She might by overly smoochy when I get back, but that I can handle 😉 But dogs? You either have to take them with you – which isn’t always possible depending on your destination – or get someone to look after them. And looking after them isn’t as easy as I thought it would be! Dogs are like the pet equivalent of a Kardashian – super high maintenance. Cats, not so much. But, cat independence isn’t always great. They aren’t always around when you want them to be, they hardly ever do what you tell them, and you can’t take them for long walks on the beach without looking a little bit odd.
So where does this leave me? Am I really going to switch from Team Dog to Team Cat? Honestly, I am not ready to make that call. It is too big a decision to make on a Sunday afternoon, especially when it turns my entire five year plan on it’s head – as sparse as it may be! Also, my nephew – dog is currently snoring quietly on some cushions in the corner looking super cute. So maybe I need to give this dog sitting thing another try in another few months. Then I will make a decision. Or I will become Team Red Panda – cos I am sure they are SUPER easy to look after 😉