A few months ago I went and broke my only rule.
Born of heartache and well-intentioned misdeed, this rule had served me well over the years. It was especially designed to minimize frustration, expense, inconvenience and eventual heartbreak. This rule had saved many lives . . . many innocent lives . . .
Only one rule . . . one lousy simple rule. And I broke it.
RULE #1: NO PETS
It all started with a simple, sweet request from my beautiful daughter. “Dad? May I show you something? It will only take a minute . . .”
This “something” turned out to be several pictures and two videos of a little Chihuahua/Jack Russell mix named Popcorn. Before I could say anything my wife appeared out of nowhere to stand by my daughter’s side; a silent and foreboding apparition reminiscent of the Ghost of Christmas Future . . . Uncharacteristically silent I should add . . .
My blood ran cold.
Before I could muster a defense they cut off my flank with incisive precision, reinforcements arriving in the form of my son . . . my only son . . .
It was three against one and not just any three; my wife silent as the grave; my son willing to trade his inheritance for the mere pittance of approval from his mom and sister; and my daughter whose big blue eyes begged me not to fail her yet again.
“W-w-w-well,” I stuttered. “Who’s going to take care of it?”
Weak you stupid idiot get ahold of yourself man
“Oh I will do everything Dad!” my daughter assured me. “Feed him, bathe him and play with him!”
It sounded all too romantic so I decided to throw some poop in the fan.
“What about the dog crap? Who’s going to clean that up?”
My daughter looked startled but before she could say a word my wife placed her hand lovingly on her shoulder, turned to me and said with finality, “Don’t worry about that I will help you.”
“W-w-w-well,” the stutter returned, “Isn’t this going to be expensive? Can we afford a pet?” My wife just smiled at me pityingly. I had forgotten what a big heart she has and how generous she is with my money.
“No, honey, it won’t be expensive,” she assured me. “Just $40 for shots and some dog food. He doesn’t look like he could eat too much.”
So in the end love and generosity prevailed over cold logical reason. Promises were made, commitments were forged and blood oaths were signed.
The kids wanted to name the dog JoJo which was fine by me as Jo is a family name. And after witnessing the dog’s penchant for big black females ten times his size and his napoleon-like demeanor I tagged on the surname Bruce because he seemed so princely in a medieval Gaelic sort of way. And yes I realize that makes absolutely no sense . . .
Good bye Popcorn . . . Hello JoJo the Bruce . . .
And now after approximately $800 in expenditures (shots, license, neutering, medicine, doggy obedience school, sweaters, leashes, collars, play toys, blankets, bedding, costumes, inside kennel, outside doghouse, doggy treats and a year’s supply of food) and weeks and weeks of potty training he has become part of the family.
The chores have been divided up as fairly as possible with my wife doing most of the work while I take care of the poop and pay for stuff. And the kids play with him sometimes.
Reflecting on all of this leaves me feeling lost and deserted. I think I need a new rule.