Saturday, December 10, 2011

Quit Saying That!

"I got a Jack Russell."

"Wow. They need a lot of exercise. And they're smart. That's a lot of work."

"But he's so cute!"
If I could possibly prevent this conversation, and ones like it, from ever happening I would. I would write a book and have the audio version (narrated by Morgan Freeman, natch) would play in every public area where dogs and potential dog people abound. The first line of that book would be, "The dog that leapt out of that car was everything I'd sworn I'd never have in a dog; a small, smart terrier. My life would never be the same."

I know that I bust on my dog a lot in this space but that's honestly because there's so much more comedy in failure. He is, by and large, a fabulous dog. I credit that with luck, hard work, and more luck.

Dogs are hard work. Even the coolest, most chill dog on earth requires feeding and walking and vetting and walking and loving and walking and attention. And walking. Most dogs are not the very best of everything. Do you think I'd get up at 6am on weekdays and go directly into the cold, hot, wet, dry, dark, bright, muggy, buggy, crowded, deserted, whatever park if I didn't have a really good reason? Do you think I'd endure the love, hate, indifference, disdain, curiosity, whatever of everyone I pass by on the street if it wasn't worth it? I wouldn't. I really wouldn't. Hell, even now I'd try to get away without it. Guess what, though? My dog needs that time in the park. He needs to meet people and dogs and encounter new situations. So we go out there and we interact and we train every single day. Some people think I do more of that than I strictly need to and they might be right but, for now, I'm going to stick to what works. If I'd had the choice, sure, I'd have gotten a big, lazy dog who loved every sentient being it met. Preferably a dog who also liked to carry my bag, never shed, and hated both rain and cold.

No, I don't know what kind of dog that is, either.

I know we've got a lot of pets out there who need homes but if I'm going to dream I'd like to dream big. I'd love it if everyone who got a pet understood what was going to be involved. 'Cause a Jack Russell needs a shitton of exercise for both mind and body. I only have part of one and he kicks my ass on a regular basis. Thank goodness another part of him is a lazy-ass pug.

*The dogs pictured above are inveterate cat chasers. Alone in their own homes they have moderated their behavior. When together they team hunt the cats and are punished severely. Both families are working hard to curb the behavior. It may take years but we're going to keep trying.


  1. Papaw always had a Jack Russell (they were all named Penny). I remember one time our family all met on a camping trip. Papaw got in his truck to go into town and left Penny at the campsite. He was gone for maybe five minutes when we noticed she was gone. She ran about two miles before he saw her in his rear view mirror, stopped and picked her up. All the Pennys where very loyal to him.

  2. You know some people who think you're doing "more of that than you strictly need to" might also think about whether the goal is to 'get away with less' - in any profound relationship. With someone we live with. As say with roommates. Or children.

    My husband is perhaps kinder to me than he strictly needs to be, but somehow I don't think he begrudges the overages. Would you want to live with someone whose thought process involved figuring out how how little it takes to keep you from - I don't know, chasing cats?

    I hear dog-variants on this question sometimes, too (how many walks does he *have* to have; how many hours can he go between walks). The answer is, of course: if you have to ask...