All I want for Christmas is a puppy to love

December 17, 2006|By SUSAN REIMER

I WANT A PUPPY FOR CHRISTMAS.

I know it is against all the rules of good sense, but I want a puppy with a red ribbon around his neck to jump out of a box and lick my face on Christmas morning.

Animal welfare people hate Christmas because of people like me. We want a puppy on Christmas morning -- but not for the other 364 days of the year. Our puppies and kittens are usually neglected or abandoned or returned before Valentine's Day.

But I swear, that wouldn't be me. If I had a puppy, I would love it. Because it would love me.

That's what I am going for here. Something to love that would love me back.

That's what happens to women who have teenagers. They are desperate for something to love them back. Something that isn't deaf to everything they say. Something that doesn't roll its eyes or slam its door. Something that is cuddly, always in a good mood and grateful for dinner.

Something that comes right back in after it goes out at night.

My daughter wants a puppy, too, and she knows exactly what kind. A Malti-poo. Something about the size of a blow dryer that would fit in her purse. A puppy she could take everywhere, like her cell phone or her iPod.

"I would take it on errands," she said.

"How about college?" I asked. "Would you take it to college? Because if we get a puppy, I want custody.

"What is the point," I continued, "of getting a puppy and sending it off to the same place you are when I am missing you so bad that I want a puppy?"

I don't want a big dog, like a Lab or an Irish setter. I already have a Big Dog, my son, who comes home on weekends and tears into food like he is using just teeth and paws and throws shoes and clothes and blankets around like he is punishing his owners for leaving him alone all day.

That Big Dog is leaving for Florida in January, and I am pretty sure a psychiatrist would say I am trying to replace him with something else to love.

"Not quite," I would say to that psychiatrist. "This dog would be happy to see me when I came in the door and would not complain that the thermostat is always set too low."

Dogs are good for you, I tell people. They get you up and moving. They get you outdoors where you meet other dog people. The social networking improves your mental outlook and even your physical health. People with dogs live longer, healthier, happier lives.

My friend Betsy says I am not allowed to have a dog, as if she is the boss of me.

"If you get a dog," said Betsy, who thinks I already have too much to do in life, "I am leaving you as a friend."

"Fine," I said, callously. "I won't need you. I'll have the dog."

I think my husband would leave me, too. He is not what you would call an animal lover. He makes constant references to their, ah, um, need to go potty. And he is allergic. It is possible that a dog would send him into respiratory arrest.

For years, when the children demanded a puppy, I would say chirpily, "We can't. Daddy's allergic. If Daddy dies, we can get a puppy."

My husband asked me to stop saying that because it was making him uncomfortable.

"Besides," he said, "every time you looked at that puppy, you would remember that I was dead."

"Yeah," I said, "but I'd have a puppy."

susan.reimer@baltsun.com

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