BY MAURA AMMENHEUSER
As you read this, it's possible our new puppy is chewing my shoes, soiling the carpet or whining while I try to meet a deadline.
It's also possible that he's napping peacefully in his crate, amusing himself batting a toy around the kitchen or waiting patiently by the front door for my children to return from school.
Please God, let it be the latter.
After 15 years of marriage and winning many battles, I finally lost the dog war. Hubby's wanted a dog all this time. My biggest objection has been fear that the doggy work will fall to me.
I'm a stay-at-home mom, but have more chores than I can handle already.
I resent that nothing in the house - not the kitchen floor, the toilets, the cars or even the kids' teeth, for crying out loud - ever gets cleaned unless (a) I clean it, (b) I nag somebody else to clean it or (c) nag somebody else to clean it, then go check whether it actually got cleaned, then yell at the slacker who clearly didn't clean it regardless of my nagging, then issue punishment to the slacker, then do at least half the cleaning chore myself while the punished slacker is throwing a hissy fit.
Hubby and slackers - oops, I mean my children - swear they will take on all dog-related chores. According to a poll of my stay-at-home mom friends, I can expect one of two outcomes. Either Hubby and Kids will in fact, out of sheer love for the dog, miraculously, cheerfully and without nagging by me perform all dog work (walking, poop-scooping, feeding, watering, grooming, etc.).
Don't laugh. I have several friends who said their kids -same ages as mine - really do care for their dogs as a matter of routine.
The other predicted outcome: Hubby and Kids will gladly perform all dog work until the novelty of having a pet wears off. The moment the dog needs something (a) unexpected, (b) unpleasant or (c) at a time when I'm the only one home (which, for five hours a day, five days a week, I am), the dog-related task will most definitely become my responsibility. I've warned Hubby that if the dog gets sick at 11 a.m. I will summon him from work, 40 miles away, to take the pooch to the vet. Hubby said I have a bad attitude.
Hey, whenever our kids have come home sick from school, it's always been my job to drop everything to run to the pediatrician. I agreed to have children. I was outvoted on the dog. I think putting Hubby Who Wants Dog So Badly permanently on-call for the vet is perfectly fair.
In the weeks between buying the dog and picking it up from the breeder, Hubby's been emailing me photos of the puppy, a Bichon, white and fluffy with a sweet little pink tongue and a happily wagging tail. You just want to reach into the photo and scoop him up for a snuggle. I know what Hubby's doing. I am not fooled. I'm OK with the puppy love. Retreiving Hubby's iPhone from the puppy's teething little mouth is still not my job.
So how do parents ensure kids live up to the responsibility of pet ownership (and in my case, that my spouse does), without lots of resentful nagging? Is one of us going to be forever in the doghouse? Or will the puppy lead us to a state of permanent, pet-induced familial bliss?
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