Sunday, October 5, 2014

Dog Day

Over the years, people have suggested that having a pet dog might be good for Alex. While I’m sure they mean well, they really don’t know how much care Alex actually requires. Having the responsibilities of a pet in addition to taking care of Alex every day seems daunting to me. For example, Alex takes various pills four times a day, and having to remember to give a dog a heartworm pill monthly would be an additional task I'd prefer not to have. After spending years toilet training Alex and cleaning up his accidents on the carpets, I would dread having to housebreak a dog. Furthermore, I’d rather not have to clean carpets after puppy accidents. After dealing with Alex’s sleep difficulties over the years, I now enjoy sleeping peacefully through the night and wouldn’t appreciate being awakened by a pet needing to go out or wanting attention.

Nonetheless, at times, I have idealized notions of a boy and his dog and wonder if having a dog might be beneficial for Alex. After all, one of his favorite places to go is Pet Supplies Plus, where he carefully studies all the different dog foods and is especially fascinated by the bags weighing more than thirty pounds. At these times when my heart wants to rule my head, ever-practical Ed reminds me that Alex never watches where he walks, and he would likely be stepping in dog doo every day. The thought of cleaning the bottom of Alex’s shoes and any places he has walked is always enough to remind me we don’t really need a dog.

This week an unusual situation occurred that gave me a chance to see how Alex would interact with a dog. When his music therapist arrived at our house for his weekly session on Thursday, a cute little dog followed him from his car to our front door. Although I didn’t recognize the dog, it wanted to come in the house with him and cried when we left her outside. Since she wasn’t wearing a collar or tag, we couldn’t identify her owner. Feeling sorry for this scared little pup, I decided to put her on our back screen porch and try to find where she belonged. Any time I left for a moment, she would whimper, so I told Alex to stay with her and talk to her. Half-heartedly, he talked to her, but he had no real interest in her, even when I assured him that she was a nice dog. Fortunately, through a neighborhood online group, we were able to return her within a couple of hours to her very relieved and happy owner.

This experience once again showed me that getting a dog for Alex would not be a good idea. If he didn’t respond to this adorable, well-behaved dog, he would not be likely to warm up to any dog. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to take the risk of getting a dog that would not be as nice as our temporary visitor. Alex wouldn’t be willing or able to take on the responsibilities of feeding, walking, and grooming a dog by himself, and I’m not eager to take on those tasks myself. While I had thought that my motives for not wanting a dog were somewhat selfish, I realized that Alex really has no interest in having a pet, so there is no point to getting him one.

Essentially, Alex only wants to relate to those who can do something for him. If we could find a dog that would prepare food for him, drive him to Pet Supplies Plus, put Epsom salts in his bath, and find the belongings he has misplaced, he might be more enthusiastic about having a dog. In the meantime, doing all those things for Alex keeps me busy enough that I don’t need a pet that requires my care, as well. Now, if we could find that magical dog that could serve as Alex’s chef, chauffeur, valet, and concierge, I could be persuaded to reconsider. In the meantime, we’ll just enjoy other people’s dogs for short periods of time and continue to browse Pet Supplies Plus without ever buying anything.

“With My great strength and powerful arm, I made the earth and all its people and every animal. I can give these things of Mine to anyone I choose.” Jeremiah 27:5

1 comment:

Dawn Marcotte said...

Thanks for sharing - I am glad you got to do a 'test run' with the dog before going any further. I too occasionally consider getting a dog to add to our household, but I don't like the idea of the extra work.

I know that specially trained dogs can do a lot for some kids on the spectrum, but they are expensive and I don't see them working well with a child who isn't interested in a dog in the first place.

Thanks for sharing.