I am not a dog person. I’ve never had a pet, not even a goldfish. I’ve never wanted a pet, aside from a few minutes in the late ’80s when I was a small girl looking at a fluffy white bunny during the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival. Even then, the moment my mom asked who I thought was going to clean the cage, with pee-soaked animal bedding and pellets of poop, I decided that the red-eyed fluffball was creepy and gross and asked for a snow cone instead.
When my daughter Violet was 3 years old, we watched “Homeward Bound,” featuring the epic journey of Shadow the golden retriever, Chance the bulldog, and Sassy cat. Violet ran around the house yelling, “Shadow!” and begged to watch the movie again and again. Then she started asking for a dog of her own.
I explained the poop and the pee, the inevitable chewed up furniture and toys, and the hassles that I imagine come with a dog, all the annoyances I’ve experienced as a non-dog person in a dog-loving world.
“They sniff butts, Violet. We don’t need a butt-sniffer in our house,” I said, shuddering at the thought of the Burton Coffee Stand on the island where I grew up, where dogs often outnumbered humans and the pups’ manners were beyond sub-par. Even though Burton was just down the road from our house, I’d sometimes drive all the way to town to grab a coffee to avoid the mongrels crowding the nearby stand.
“Dogs are a lot of work, almost like babies,” I told Violet. “You have to walk the dog, teach the dog things, who even knows what else.”
Fast forward a year to Violet as a 4-year-old, telling me her dream is to be a veterinarian. She’s going to ask her dad to build her a house in our backyard where she will live with her 30 dogs. I vomit in my mouth a little when she says this.
“I’ll pick up the pups’ poop with a pooper scooper. No big deal!” Violet says. “How about if I learn everything about dogs and get prepared, then can I get one?”
“Only if Dad builds a fence and gets a work-from-home job, because I don’t want the dog to be my responsibility all day every day.”
This may sound selfish, but I imagine some of my fellow parents can relate. I want all of my daughter’s wishes and dreams to come true, and I do want to watch her fall in love with her very own dog, but at the same time I’m hesitant to give up more hours of my day, to invite more chaos, more mess.
Then Violet turned 5 in a world shut down by Covid. Along with the pandemic came a work-from-home job for her dad, as well as endless hours at home, much of which Violet filled with elaborately demonstrating what a responsible puppy parent she could be. She helps out around the house and takes care of her stuffed animals as if they were real. She hums while making our beds, sings while Swiffering the floor. Every day she brushes, feeds and reads to her favorite toy kitty, Vanilla. Every night she snuggles her, tucks her in, and tells Vanilla how much she loves her, that she’s “the best kitty in the whole wide entire world and universe.”
“Vanilla peed on the carpet Mom!” Violet yelled from her bedroom the other day. “I’m on it! I just need spray and paper towels. Don’t worry about a thing!”
Clearly I am not as clever as this 5-year-old, this kid who has been plotting against me on the dog front for years. Violet has managed to convince her dad, her grandparents, her friends, her friends’ parents, her old preschool teacher, and even the staff here at our local paper that she’s ready for a puppy of her own.
For the past month, Violet’s dad has been outside building our fence. By the time this paper hits the stands, there will be an 8-week-old chocolate lab living in our house. I worry the dog will chew up my Doc Martens, snag my dresses, or escape from our yard. But even worse, I worry that Violet and her new puppy might manage to turn me into a dog person. “You’re gonna fall in love with a dog!” Violet sings as she giggles and spins around the living room. “Mom’s gonna love our dog!”
Although it makes me cringe to admit it, she’s probably right.
Krisa Bruemmer lives in Vaughn.
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