I hate my dog.
I know, I know--What kind of person hates her own dog? Or any dog? Dogs are so sweet and loyal and they have paws and fur and big, lolling tongues. They're pack animals whose sole desire in life is to be accepted. What am I, Michael Vick?
I am not a dog-hater. I'm actually a dog-liker. Dare I say, a dog-lover. Before I had kids, I loved my dog. I loved him despite his chronic sinus problems, his incessant shedding, his dirty paws and terrible breath and obnoxious begging for table scraps. After work Jeff and I took him to parks, on long, leisurely walks where he could sniff and pee to his little heart's content. We took him on 'Ollie-Days'--we'd buy him a bucket of KFC and go on a picnic. He ate chicken skin and drank cold bottled water while we took turns brushing his long, golden fur. He slept on our beds and licked our faces, and when we had to go on vacation and leave him, we'd wonder out loud how he was doing and if he missed us, and when we found the inevitable stray dog-hair on our luggage we'd say, 'Awwww,' as if he were blowing a little doggie kiss across the miles between us.
And then, of course, we had kids.
Ollie suffered a significant demotion after we had kids. He went from being our furry son and sole recipient of our affection down to being only slightly more important than our TV remote. Now when he blows a snot-rocket onto the carpet, and instead of feeling instantly sorry for him and his eternally runny nose, I grumble about how disgusting it is that I have to clean up dog boogers on top of kid boogers (not literally on top of, although I'm sure that will be the case at some point). When he scratches at the door to go outside, instead of rejoicing in the fact that he is completely and reliably house-broken (unlike certain other members of this house), I roll my eyes at the 5-second inconvenience it is to let him out. And when he barks at the UPS truck, the garbage truck, the recycle truck, the ferocious gray cat across the street, instead of being grateful that I have such a vigilant watch-dog, I almost have a coronary trying to get him to shut the F up before he wakes up Elsa from her nap. Poor guy. It's a wonder he doesn't pee all over the place and let every suspicious-looking person walk right into our house, just to prove to me that I'm a total asshole.
I think my hate comes in short, intense bursts. It's usually when I'm already irritated about something else--Elsa emptying yet another entire bag of goldfish onto the floor and she and Rollie giggling as they take turns smushing them into the carpet--and then Ollie starts pawing at the back door to come in, and when I look through the glass I see him covered in mulch, his paws so caked in mud he looks like he has hooves. That's when I start dreaming of a peaceful life without a dog. Or children, for that matter....
Of course I feel totally guilty for harboring such hatred. It's not Ollie's fault he irritates the living shit out of me. It's not his fault we have to walk him and brush him and remove his fur from our children's orifices (I kid you not; our children have pooped out dog hair before). It's not his fault he barks at 2 a.m. thunderstorms, growls if Elsa gets too close to his bowl, or snatches food from unattended dinner plates. Sometimes he behaves better than my own children (okay, much of the time). At least he cleans up after their meals. And he listens to simple commands. And his demands are small: Feed me, let me go to the bathroom, pet me and bathe me at least once in a while, and in return I will protect your house, offer you pure devotion and keep the floor beneath your kitchen table spotless. If kids came with that kind of trade-off, I'd have 101.
And if they disobeyed, I could always threaten to make a coat out of them.