The Westminster Dog Show is a Big Deal in my family. I always managed to watch it when I was in college, despite not owning a personal tv, and the fact that it’s a two night, eighteen-hour televised dog show that was on opposite Gossip Girl and Glee. I’ve always loved dogs, even though I’ve never owned one. I have literally dozens of plastic dogs (Puppy in My Pocket was so much better than Littlest Pet Shop. They had way more personality, and even if they were sometimes stuck with a newspaper in their mouth for their entire lives they just looked more realistic. Plus, they came with cards that talked about their breed traits, like intelligence and energy level, so they were educational), and some really very nice plush ones from when I was a kid. I’ve done my homework, and I can identify lots of breeds by sight (it’s actually sort of a game in my family, when we’re driving around, to call out the dog breeds we see), and a lifetime of watching Westminster has taught me a lot about different breeds’ temperments and lifestyle needs (“the Westie is a high-energy breed, with a playful sense of humor and willful nature”, etc.). I’ve fallen in love with a million different breeds (a couple of years ago it was the Boykin Spaniel, which I’ve now thrown over completely for Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retreivers. I actually felt a twinge of guilt over it when the boykin spaniel came up during the dog show), but I think I’ve now found The One. Well…The First One at least. Because I’ve never had a dog, and because my taste tends towards dogs that would be hard for a novice to handle (I’m looking at you bull terriers, and bulldogs, with your bossy nature, and your tendency to develop lots of health problems. Why did you have to be so cute?!), for the past few years I’ve been looking for a breed to learn on. A dog that will be able to handle my learning curve, and pave the way for more dogs later (I don’t think I’d like to have more than two at a time. I don’t want to bite off more than I can chew and take nine dogs from the bridal shower only to later discover that six would have been a better choice (yeah, that was 100% the best part of the movie)). I’m pretty sure a toller is the dog for me. They’re smart, they’re the right size (they’re the smallest retrievers, so they’re not huge, but they aren’t cat-sized), they’re fun-loving, you can run with one, they’re affectionate, they like kids, which isn’t an issue at the moment, but could be someday, and you just know one would look good in a rugby jersey. I want one.
Now to the point. As much as it pains me to admit it, I’m not ready for a dog right now. I’m about to move, and start a crazy intense nursing program, and I don’t have any money, and I can’t get a dog until I know that I’ll be able to care for it. Flora (my hedgehog) is about the most that I can handle in the pet department for the time being. When I graduate though, I’ll be able to start earning actual money (not crazy money, but more than I’ve ever earned before), and I’ll be closer to being able to establish a career. I told myself that when I finish my accelerated program, I would get a dog. That’s in about eighteen months. Shoot. Eighteen months is nothing. It’s slightly shy of the time it would take to gestate two human babies, which isn’t a great way of measuring time, because I’ve never been pregnant, so I don’t know how long that process feels. Eighteen months is going to go by in a flash though. When my sister pointed that out, she meant it in a great way, because she also really really wants a dog. She meant it as “YAY! Soon you will have a dog to love and pet and dress up for photo shoots!”, but I took it as “Holy heck, in eighteen months if I get a dog I will be responsible for an animal that requires human baby amounts of love and attention for its entire life!” (so really the human gestation comparison isn’t that far off, as far as applicability). It didn’t seem like enough time. I was suddenly terrified that I wouldn’t be able to take care of a dog, and I would ruin it. I decided to play it by ear, and if I’m in a good place after I graduate, revisit the idea then. And then the dog show happened, and my puppy biological clock turned back on.
It’s true that I’ve never had a dog, and that getting one will be nutty. I’ll have loans, and a schedule, and there will be times when the puppy needs attention that I don’t want to give. That’s just a fact. I’m not going to let it stop me from getting a dog though. I’ve always wanted a dog, and I’m willing to do what I need to in order to be a good pet owner. It’s easy to say that things will be too crazy, and it’s better to settle down and have things figured out before you tie another life to your own, but there will never be a perfect time. Things will always happen, and I know lots of people who don’t have their lives 100% straightened out, but still somehow manage to be good dog owners. Maybe not in eighteen months, but soon, I’ll be watching Westminster with a dog of my own.