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Scott Shamberg

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My Kids Want a Dog. Do I?

Posted: 04/23/2012 1:11 pm

I'm a sports person. I'm a people person. I am not a dog person. Let me repeat that. I am not a dog person. By that I aim to say that I have not been able to relate to people who own dogs rather than implying that I am some sort of half man, half dog beast who craps on the rug but blames it on the baby à la Brian Griffin.

I have no problem with pets. My mom got us pets when we were kids. I had a rabbit named Pudge as a kid, named after my favorite baseball player at the time, Carlton Fisk. I also had a gerbil named Gus. Gus attacked a hamster at show and tell one day and died shortly thereafter. No, natural causes! I feel your look! My brother Todd and I buried Gus in a cigar box and then a few weeks later I dug him up to see what he looked like. Looking back on it now, my mom was right. Bad idea. Ok, maybe I do have a problem.

Now I'm a dad with an eight-year-old daughter who is obsessed with getting a dog. At first my wife and I thought it would subside, much like her daily request to meet Katy Perry. We eventually got her to understand that was a tall task. Especially now. Katy is in a very dark place, poor thing. The dog obsession, however, did not go away.

She took to Google for research -- and not just for pictures. She would come in and announce she knew which dogs were hypo-allergenic, since her brother has a slight allergy. She would walk up to people on the street, ask politely to pet the dog and then ask what kind it was. We would say "Dogs are a lot of work, you know?" "I know, I will walk it and pick up the poop." Uh huh. In the middle of January?

Her efforts, though, began to warrant real recognition, grown up recognition. She wasn't simply whining or begging. She was going about it in a way that clearly said she was serious about it. Well, you know, all but the part about picking up the poop. So if she was serious about it, my wife and I decided we should be, too. So we started talking seriously about it. But it was just that -- talk. I was still not sure. Then my brother Kyle wrote this post and it kind of put me over the top.

One problem -- I have no clue what is proper etiquette when it comes to buying a dog. I know to ask about behavior and training and health, but is it ok to look at this like buying a car instead of having another child? Will the breeder think I'm a jerk if I go in with that approach? "So, I want something in midnight electric blue and you can keep the coat-shining seal. I'd prefer front-leg drive so he can maneuver the tough Chicago winters. Also, I want to be able to take him on runs so how quickly can this breed go from zero to 5 mph?" See where I'm going? This has the potential to turn into a Larry David moment if I am not prepared.

All kidding aside, I see this very much as something that will bring our family closer together and, I hope, teach both my kids responsibility. I know this is as much an emotional investment as it is rationale, probably more so. This will be a member of our family that we will care for, enjoy and love. I don't want any of you to believe I'm shallow enough to only get a dog based on its performance. Well, at least those of you who don't already know me. This is a legitimate concern, so any guidance is much appreciated. You know, like the residual value of the dog as well as a true market money factor.

 

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