Dog Ownership: One Thing I Didn’t Know

One month after the incident while on I was on my family reunion trip, Ramona's nose is still raw. April 2013.

In the middle of my last night at a family reunion, which had taken me away from home for a whopping four days, I got a frantic text from my dog sitter: Ramona had found a way into the pantry, gorged on a volume of dog treats I had no idea even existed in my house, and thereafter vomited throughout the evening and into the night all over my bed, the carpets, the couches, and the guest bed.

While I’ve traveled in the past, she’s consumed dark chocolate (necessitating an emergency-room visit), sleeves of crackers, an entire loaf of bread, and miscellaneous items she could pull from the dog sitter’s purse or my closet.

She doesn’t do these things while I’m in town.

When you consider bringing a canine into your life, dog lovers will warn you about the commitment required: twice-daily walks, veterinary expenses, training, discipline, regular bathroom breaks, playtime and attention, and so on. If you can’t assume these activities and expenses, you should enjoy other people’s dogs—and pass on getting your own.

Dog lovers don’t tell you about the shared stress of time apart.

Ramona does not like me to leave for long on an average day—so she considers my leaving her for multiple days truly unacceptable. My travel demands her ostentatious revolt, even though I ensure she has someone to stay in the house with her while I’m away. (No kenneling or lonely overnights with only a morning and evening dog walker for her!)

On my end, I miss her terribly. Although I shouldn’t allow it, she sleeps in my bed, and I find it difficult to sleep well without her now. I don’t like entering houses or hotel rooms without Ramona there to greet me.

I’d rather stay home with my pup.

Once upon a time, I’d take a weekend away here or there. I’d jaunt off for a week’s vacation. Now: Not so much. And, really, oddly enough, I don’t even mind.

What were your pet-ownership surprises?

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Reader Comments (7)

My last cat passed away 15 years ago and since then I have not had animals in my life. At first it was too painful and then life got too hectic.

Some stereotypes that most non cat and non pet owners suffer from is that cats are fairly stupid, that they have short memories, and that they're cold and incapable of forming close bonds.

It's not that they are cold but that they are more independent than most animals. They do show their attachment to their humans in their own unique ways.

Mainly through rubbing their heads on their human but also by bringing gifts like birds or lizards or in my case golf balls. My cat would make a half mile trip to a local driving range and somehow bring back golf balls (cause they look like eggs maybe?). I can't imagine he could pick up a golf ball in his mouth so I have to guess he would laboriously bat the ball down the street. He would show up at the back door and not come in until he could present the gift. I ended up with a collection of golf balls over the years.

If that is not bonding or a sign of intelligence, then I don't know what is.

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

I guess the biggest surprise for me was how much the "family dynamic" plays into the everyday life of a multiple pet owner. The interactions among my four cats, shared stress, food-related issues...all these things have been such an enormous part of our lives, to the point where my vet has made a fifth chart to keep notes on them.

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

Ouch! Best wishes for a full recovery for the pup (and for you, and for your many puked-upon furnishings...).

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNick

I like how very different their personalities are. I have had several (cats and dogs) and they were all unique.

The cats:
Bill was an amiable klutz who knocked down anything that stood in his way. He didn't go around things, he made paths. Archy was the great gecko hunter, and Samantha attacked a lion cub she thought was too close to her kitten. (no kidding). Bear was permanantly grouchy, but loved to cuddle with his dog. Buddy was so relaxed he seemed mildly stoned, (unless there was food, and then you couldn't break his focus), and my current pet, Bailey, is a talkative sort who practically pounces on me when I get home.

The dogs:
Jingles was afraid of fire and liked to carry the cat (Bill) around by the scruff of the neck. He also liked carrots and we had to chase him out the garden because he kept digging them up. Jesse was extremely protective of her cat (Bear) and lived to play fetch. Rocky is a routine-minded dog, and gets very annoyed when his people stay out late or even stay up to watch the late movie.

Poor Ramona. I hope she feels better now that you're back, and that whatever she puked on was washable.

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterrebecca

I had cats for a number of years, Will, Melissa, and Rebecca, and you're completely right: They do show incredible affection, personality, and intuitiveness to the overall dynamic. I remember--although I shouldn't admit it, but we're all friends here, right?--once calling my answering machine while I was in college to leave my cats a message during a two-week stay at my parents' house. (The cats had a sitter, don't worry.) I knew they'd be able to hear my voice when I left the taped message. (Ah, the olden days.) When I tried to call in a couple days later to check messages, the phone line was busy. It stayed busy for the rest of my trip. Hearing my voice, one of the cats had batted the receiver off the phone base.

And yes, Ramona is fine and feeling much better. As for my house, I cleaned what I could and now need to schedule a carpet cleaning. (Fun fun.) The worst was that she pulled these shenanigans right before houseguests arrived. Always something!

April 8, 2013 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

Leslie, that story that you shared just screams for this commercial.

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWilliam Pora

Ha! Will, however did you find such a thing! Love it. SPOT ON.

April 9, 2013 | Registered CommenterLeslie Farnsworth

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