I didn’t want to be some embarrassingly cheery spaniel puppy who runs in front of you and turns around and stumbles and tries to look up at you and stay close and keep its legs moving all at once and just when you think the coast is clear you accidentally tumble over it as it tangles you up in its clumsy little legs.
I knew you’d never stand for one of those starter dogs who looks like bait for actual dogs and whose name starts with “toy” or “teacup” and who yips and jumps and snaps at people and wears little sweaters and matching hats and must be carried around in a designer bag instead of joining you on walks and that’s not me.
But maybe I felt like a border collie who’s plenty smart and kind of self-sufficient but still requires too much attention after you’ve had a long day at the office and when it wants to play fetch (for just three hours) all you really want to do is take a nap but what can you do since the poor thing has been left alone all day long and so just out of pity you give some of your time.
So I overcompensated and became one of those retired racing greyhounds who skitters at sudden movements and is afraid of making mistakes and never is where you expect it to be and was not socialized like other dogs (since all it’s ever done is run) so it makes up its own bizarre rules of behavior and has to be taught even basics like how to go up and down the stairs but is a perfectly nice dog that everyone agrees could one day be a fine companion and definitely has a way with children.
I never wanted to be a husky who pulls and pulls you along through deep heavy snow and deadly weather and can’t be inside because its fur is so thick and so it lives in the frozen tundra with a pack of its fellows. I didn’t need to be some yellow lab seeing-eye dog to lead you everywhere day and night and who you depend on for your every move. Or a Shetland sheepdog who lives to work and corrals herds of stupider animals on your command.
I just wanted to be something dependable and calm like a Newfoundland or a St. Bernard who you could count on for friendly afternoons of casual walks and swims and romps in snow but also when there’s trouble you could use to find people who are lost.
Then I thought how sad if all you’re looking for is a goldfish.
Quaker, teacher, parent,