I don't consider myself a dog person. In fact, I've always identified myself as a cat person, and I've always had a cat. It isn't that I don't appreciate dogs, because I do. I've even felt affection for a few, owned by others. I have seen the bond that dogs and their masters have, and it warms me. Dogs are like people, almost. I get that. But they smell. Although puppies are about the cutest things ever, puppy breath is not cute. While I appreciate the sentiment, the thought of a dog licking my face makes me want to hurl. I hate that their fur smells greasy and dog-like, even after a bath. I hate that I can't pet a dog and not smell my hands, and then not wash my hands. I hate that they chew everything and have to be walked and have to be socialized, and then you have to pick up their poop. I have enough poop to clean up. And they bark. And they scare people. And you have to do so much for them and with them. And you know how the more you do, the more you love? I know what would happen.
But I think the real reason I cannot be a dog person is evident after watching Marley and Me last night. I cannot love a dog, because a dog will die. And I cannot handle that.
It's hard enough when cats die, or even the hamster, for heaven's sake. I get so attached to animals, to pets. They are a part of the family and they should live forever. But imagining the bond that I would share with a dog, that is so much more interactive and human-like than a cat? I might never recover. I started crying during the movie at Marley's first sign of sickness. I knew what was coming, and it was just too much. When they said their goodbyes? Please. I was sobbing. Sobbing! And I cried for a good thirty minutes after the movie ended, and it wasn't even my dog, and I'm not even a dog person!
My first Christmas being married (the first time), my sweet husband surprised me. He took me to a house to "pick something up" and when he came out, he walked over to my side of the Jeep and unveiled from beneath his bulky green Gap sweatshirt was a white ball of fluff. A Persian kitten with blue eyes that we named Corey. I loved that kitty. He lived with us for seven years, and loved on two of our children, and then one night, at 2am, a knock on the door.
"Your cat's been attacked by three dogs," the neighbor reported, and pointed to a white pile in the middle of the street where Corey lay.
Adam went and scooped him up and wrapped him in a towel and laid him on the porch before me. I was shaking and sobbing. Lyndsay and Dylan were still sleeping, thank goodness. My sister, Abby, lived with us, and was up too. Corey was still alive, but in bad shape. His back was probably broken and he was matted with blood and dog spit. He lay motionless and just looked at me. I petted him and whispered of my love for him. Adam said, "We have to, Jenna," and I knew what he meant. "I know," I said.
That act, one of the hardest of my life, was done purely out of love. Adam got his gun, and took Corey out back. I went inside, absolutely a mess, and sat on Abby's bed holding on to her, trying my best to not throw up while I waited in agony for that shot to be fired. When it did, it about killed me too. Poor Adam. He was deeply affected by having to help our kitty, and let him rest. He brought me in Corey's blue collar, with the jingle bell, and we sat and both of us just balled.
The next day I went out in the yard and gathered up a piece of his fur and the bullet casing. I still keep them in a drawer in my jewelry box with his collar. The children were broken-hearted in the morning (though they weren't told for years how Corey actually died), and for about a week tears flowed freely. Every picture, random memories, it all just flooded through our family.
That was a horrible time.
And now, we have another cat. And he better never die. Or the bunny. It's just too much. I grieve too hard. Even when our family cat, Sassy, passed away, after 17 years and long after I'd moved out of the house, it was a dark day in my heart. I miss her.
So, I loved the movie. I cannot read the book, because I can't go there again. It's just too emotional, and it will only confirm to me why I can never have a dog. The dog I would want would be big and fluffy and smart and part of the family. And I just can't risk him dying.
No thank you.