Elizabeth Geris | Puppies and children

The hubs and I would like a dog someday. A big dog, a small dog, or a three-legged dog of any breed would suit us just fine. But it has to be a shelter or rescue dog – no puppy-mill stuff, no matter how many “papers” a breeder wants to throw at us.
Of course, there are a lot of obstacles in front of our goal – for one, we rent an apartment, and the last time I scanned our lease, I’m pretty sure it read “no pets” somewhere. Also, we live a little too close to an Augusta County highway to feel comfortable letting our little furry bundle out into the big world without chain-link fencing. And, of course, there’s the cost. It’s been a long time since I’ve been a dog-mom, but not long enough to forget those $400 and $500 vet bills.

Luckily I don’t carry too much guilt about it, since I find that it isn’t hard to convince my friends or family members that taking on a dog would be simply too much of an expense right now. I mean, hey, a dog is always a luxury, but especially during a time when everyone is trying to sew up that huge hole in the wallet faster than it can tatter. I am puzzled, however, why I get a very different reaction when I pitch the same argument in favor of remaining childless indefinitely.”Oh, you can’t wait until you have enough money to have a kid. Otherwise, you’ll never have one,” or, “you just find a way (to afford your child), trust me,” they’ll reassure. How the heck do they know? Sure, most of them have already been there, and that’s where they have the advantage – they’ve already raised their kids or have figured out the best budget to take care of the youngsters that are still at home.

Honestly, I just don’t understand how people can magically explain away the expense of raising an initially helpless human being, not to mention the mountain of responsibility that comes along with, as the hubs would say, “molding a young mind.” Oh, sure, I’ve unintentionally heard the accusatory whispers of “selfish” and “immature” as answer to my objections of having children, but really I can’t think of anything more selfish than putting everything on the line – my marriage, my job, my health, and the future child’s success and economic comfort – just to have a little darling I can show off to the world. Yes, I am aware of Darwin’s assertion that we are all born with an innate biological imperative to pass on our genetic material, but I ain’t exactly convinced he got everything right. Consider: This is the same man who also posited that the attractive people were more likely to successfully reproduce. If this is true, then please explain why there’s an ugly one born every minute.

I’m not exactly sure I am the kind of woman who should be reproducing anyway, when deep in the recesses of my mind, the only compelling reason I can think of to have a child is to reduce my chances of ending up in a nursing home. Horrible, I know, but I gotta be honest. Not that it’s even a viable reason anyway, since I imagine that should the day come when I cannot take care of myself, I would wander out in the middle of a meadow in Verona and just let nature take its course. On second thought, maybe that Darwin guy and I do have something in common – we believe in survival of the fittest – and if I’m not fit anymore, don’t keep me going. After all, that’s what my beloved childhood dog tried to communicate to me the morning she died. She did everything she could to escape my grasp and wander away from me so she could return to the earth and be useful again.

Oh, if the human were as wise as the dog: speaking little, eating only what’s available, making the most of what he has instead of dwelling on what he doesn’t, contributing more than he consumes. That’ll be the day I might give the world my own little ugly darling.

 

– Column by Elizabeth Geris


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