Saturday, December 17, 2011

Puppy Wars

My wife and I both grew up as dog owners. But throughout our marriage we have managed to refrain from owning fur bearing pets of any kind. Until now.

It's not that our kids haven't pestered us for pets of various kinds. They have. And we have had pets—mostly fish and amphibians. But, as my kids have frequently reminded me, you can't really cuddle a fish. The level of interaction with a fish in an aquarium is far different from that of a pet with which you can hold, talk to, and play with.

Although I have Multiple Sclerosis, I work very hard at maintaining the best level of health possible. Years ago a series of studies looked into the affects of pets on the health of people with MS. From my study of the research, it seemed to me that fur bearing house pets somewhat adversely affected the physical progress of MS, but that those that had pets were psychologically happier.

I surmised that I'd rather be able to continue to walk, talk, and provide for my family than enjoy the warm fuzzies I felt as a pet owner. Of course, it is quite possible to have an outdoor pet. But most residential outdoor pets end up in the house sooner or later. So for years we demurred each time a child would put forth arguments for getting a fur bearing pet.

A couple of months ago, we discovered that pet ownership can be beneficial for people that deal with certain challenges faced by my youngest son. My boy immediately latched onto that as license—or more correctly, a prescription—for getting a "real" pet. Given that it would have to be an outdoor pet, that meant something like a rabbit, cat, or dog.

I didn't think much of this to begin with, but then I noticed that my wife was giving the matter serious consideration. She was doing real research into various pets. My son was consulting closely with friends and neighbors that were pet owners.

I immediately started putting up arguments for why we should maintain our long-term policy of not welcoming fur bearing pets into our home. Pets can impose a rather significant expense on a family's budget. I repeated my longstanding arguments against owning such pets.

But I privately told my wife that if we had to get a pet, it would have to be a dog. I get along just fine with cats. But I am not a cat person. My wife agreed. But she could see the chink in my armor that translated into tacit approval to get a dog.

Soon more members of the family got into the research. They were exploring various breeds and checking for availability of puppies. At first they were looking at mini Dachshunds. While this breed doesn't shed, it seems more like an indoor breed.

Eventually they were looking at hardier outdoor breeds. Some family members liked the Shiba Inu breed, which originated in Japan. It was my understanding, however, that this breed can tend to be somewhat ornery. Then my oldest son discovered a breed that was a cross between an American Eskimo and a Shiba Inu called an Imo-Inu. This breed can live outdoors, doesn't get too big, is not too noisy, tends to have a decent temperament, and self grooms.

Before long, my wife located a family with a litter of six Imo-Inu puppies. She, my youngest son, and my daughter recently visited this family and returned with an eight-week-old puppy that is mostly white. Per my oldest son's suggestion, the dog has been dubbed Shiranui—a Japanese term for Will-o'-the-whisp. But in the instance cited by my son (who is a fan of Anime), Shiranui means White Star and is ascribed to a legendary white wolf that performed a heroic deed.
We've only had the puppy for three days. Although he seems to be quite smart and is doing fair at eliminating outdoors, he has already tinkled on the carpet a dozen times. As I predicted, we have already spent loads of unbudgeted money for shelter, food, shots, toys, etc. Our whole family's schedule is now being controlled by caring for a puppy. And the dog is inside the house a lot of the time.

But the puppy has already captured the hearts of every family member. Including mine.

1 comment:

BDH said...

You're really not very convincing as a Grinch! Your heart is just too big to be an effective Grinch. You'll love this new friend and be able to overlook the tinkles in no time.
Merry Christmas to you and your family!