Update on December 6th: We are now the proud caretakers of Joey and Rocky, two gold fish.
The people who live next door to us have a dog. So do the people across the street. The same goes for several families down the hill, and up the hill as well. You can imagine the chorus when one neighborhood canine starts barking.
There are simply dogs everywhere in our new suburb. In fact, the week we moved in, a polar bear sized white beast (I’m not exaggerating), escaped (again) from his house. It took six kids to corral him, attach a leash and walk him home.
Hence, you can understand why the boys want a dog for Chanukah. Much to their regret, it’s just not going to happen.
I didn’t have a dog growing up, and while I resented my parents’ decision, I am apparently inflicting the same fate on my kids. Fortunately, my husband, who grew up with cats, agrees.
We recognize the myriad benefits of having a dog. It would be a companion for the kids; a way for them to learn responsibility. But you all know the reality… I would be the one walking, feeding and caring for the dog. I would be the one going to the vet. I would be the one wielding endless rolls of tape to get the dog hair off the couch.
Plus, I now have this to back up my argument: having a pet costs money. A recent story in the New York Times exhorted readers to think about the costs of owning a pet before making a holiday gift purchase.
Yet the reality is that pets cost far more than many people expect. And right now, as the economy continues to stumble, those costs have become a burden to many people, like the cat lover who cannot afford medical care or the horse owner struggling with boarding fees.
The problem is that the general information out there is not realistic. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates the cost for a large dog at $875 a year for food, medical expenses, toys and a few related expenses, and $560 for first-year setup costs. The estimate for a cat is $670 a year, with first-year expenses of $365, for a total of $1,035.
The Times goes on to talk about how those numbers can really run much higher. But that’s not what this story is about. Pure and simple, I am not bowing to the neighborhood pet pressure.
Besides, I think I’ve come up with some other Chanukah presents that might take their mind off the dog thing. This year, I’m leaning towards the type of gifts that take time, make a mess, and require a dash of creativity. So far I’ve stashed away some paint, glue, wax, felt, Popsicle sticks and Legos. And if I end up with a Popsicle stick puppy or a floppy-eared wax figurine, well, I’ll deal with the guilt then.
In the meantime, our youngest will just have to stick with his favorite stuffed animal named “Bow Wow.” And maybe a goldfish or two.