With the exception of some short-lived Sea Monkeys that were a birthday present to Scooter, we have been without any pets for two years. To the day.
Two years ago, Trillian and I came home from picking up Scooter at daycare to discover our dog looking sluggish and pained. She couldn't walk, only slowly raised her head to look at me. I picked her up and carried her down to our car, rushing to the vet clinic before it closed.
The vet said it looked like a spine trauma, something usually caused by a blow, but perhaps in her case, a result of gradual degeneration. He offered to take X-rays, said that cortisone shots might give her a little more time (maybe 3 weeks was the answer when I asked how much), that he would usually only suggest more aggressive treatments in younger dogs, not one who was within a month of 14. And when I decided it was time, he told me he thought it was the right decision.
I adopted my dog when she was about a year old, less than a month before Trillian and I started dating. She (the dog) was underweight, a product of a neglectful family that had given her up because she was too much trouble. She was incredibly submissive. Getting her to gain weight was difficult because she would pass up food in exchange for any small amount of attention.
I didn't always do as well by her as I would have hoped, especially once Scooter came along. That was difficult for her since she was 11 when he was born and a little crotchety. But to be near me, she had to put up with the loud, grabbing baby.
And I have to admit that there are times when I have realized how much easier some things are without pets--no petsitting to arrange, no freezing cold walks in the winter, no hair sneaking into everything (other than what's left over, still, two years later).
But I miss having a dog. This is the longest I've gone without a pet in my daily life. Scooter, also, has started the pleas for a dog. I'm trying to be the responsible adult in these conversations, enumerating the different things one must do for a dog, finding amusement in his reassurances that he can do it all, that the dog can even have his brush and toothbrush.
Trillian really wants (and I theoretically agree) to wait until after the next kid--if we can manage to have one--is steady on his/her feet.
There's also the issue of Trillian's dog allergy. She's had this all along, but has become more sensitive since our move to Toronto. After staying with my sister in December, the retriever hair everywhere made Trillian's nose run for days. And then just this week, I pulled out a sleeping bag for more warmth on our bed; when Trillian looked at it in direct light, she realized that it was covered with dog hair from when it had last been put in storage. We had slept with it for a couple nights, and she had started complaining that she was coming down with something--runny nose, sore throat, etc.
As a result, we'll need to take breed into consideration. I am very much a shelter-pup person. I have worked in an animal shelter, won't ever think twice about spaying or neutering a pet, and plan on volunteering at the local shelter soon. I am also a working/sporting dog kind of person--we grew up with Labs, and my dog was a German Shepherd mix. But now, I may have to go in a different direction. Trillian and I have given a little consideration to which dogs are less allergenic and are toying with the idea of a Standard Poodle ("Poodle?!" my mind screams.).
We probably have about three years before we can move forward on this anyway. But today is a reminder of how much I miss a dog's warm body at my feet.