Friday, May 05, 2006

Waiting behind the door

Noah plays nice with Shadow. November 3, 2004.

Many of you may not know that my wife blogs, too. She posted this week about how my recently accelerated travel regime has affected the family. It's not easy on any of them when I simply disappear for a few days. It makes coming home that much more rewarding for us all - and gives me lots to think about as I hover miles above the earth on my way home.

Returning home has always been my favorite part of being away. Tonight, they came to pick me up from the airport shuttle. I got limitless hugs from the little people before we piled back into the van and headed home. It was late, I was jet lagged, and our munchkins were too excited to fall asleep.

As I watched them bounce up the front walk and head into the house, I thought about how our cat, who we had to put down a year ago March, used to greet us at the door whenever we came home from a trip. He would meow angrily as we put the key in the lock, as if he didn't want us to forget that he was ticked off at being left alone. After a few hours of feline guilt-giving, he'd calm down and make nice to us all.

These days, the door is silent upon our return. Yet for a split second, I still expect him to be there. Weird, yet strangely comforting.

This picture is reflective of a typical Noah moment with his self-proclaimed "best cat." He still speaks fondly of his lost pet, still smiles when he does so - even as his voice gets a little quieter because he misses him.

I can't help but think that our little boy learned something about growing up from the time he spent with his furry friend. The hallway may be silent when we come home. Yet somehow the echoes are still, faintly, there.

Your turn: So should we just get a dog already? I know it's insane and we have neither the time nor the energy. But we said that about kids before we had 'em, and they're working out all right. Does pet ownership help kids grow up to be better people?


kenju said...

Pets can really help to teach children responsibility - but only if the parents are diligent and disciplined about making sure that the child takes care of the responsibility. It is all too easy to feed, walk, bathe, etc. the pet when the child balks, but that is not the way to teach the child. If you and your wife know that you can do it right - then by all means - get a pet.

I think the best thing about having a pet is the unconditional love you receive from it. That is a good lesson for children too.

Michele sent me tonight, Carmi. Feel better soon.

Anonymous said...

I think that having a pet did wonders for the house I grew up in, they taught responsibility and also, we had a full bred cocker spaniel who was totally human after many months of hands on training that everyone took part in. It's all good.

Pet's can enhance the life of a child, giving them "someone else" to love and get love in return, "just because!"

Remember it snows in Canada, and walks in the middle of the night in the FREEZING WINTER snow will be necessary, so consider that thought before you give in. Maybe something smaller like a cat, (self contained) or the like may do well too...

You will know when the next pet will be found.

I always love your stories. It kinda feels like we are all "family" here.


sage said...

I had a cat for years. She didn't like it when I got married, liked it even less when kids started showing up, would give you a great deal of guilt everytime you left... But she could also be loving and was a great one to read with. She died when my daughter was two. We got a dog. Dogs do love you unconditionally and interestingly, my daughter's allegeries all of a sudden cleared up! He's a great dog! I recomend one--he came from the pound at about 10 weeks old and has become a part of the clan.

daisy said...

Most definitely. Although if you're busy a cat would be best because they are so self sufficient. But little boys do love doggies.

rashbre said...

Yup - I know that travel thing too. Worst is being in an airport somewhere and having forgotten where I've come from. Doesn't happen so often though and actually I'm more based in one place at present.

Michele seems to be taking a nap this weekend.


shpprgrl said...

To me it's personal preference, when you're ready, you'll know. I had 3 different dogs from when I was very young to the time I got married. As an adult, we've had dogs, but I never seem to 'bond' with them as I did with the ones of my childhood. Because of that, I'm likely to not be that excited about getting a new dog. Not to mention the added responsibilities. We got two new puppies last week, and so far so good. Good luck with your decision!

ribbiticus said...

most definitely! having grown up with dogs all my life, i can't imagine being without one ever. i had my pets to play with whenever my parents were at work so i didn't get too lonely. my dogs also made me feel comforted and secure. plus it feels great being greeted by a wagging tail and an excited bark whenever i come home. my dogs love me regardless of how crappy i feel. (have i sold you into getting one already? lol!) i think only you and your wife will know when it's the best time to get a new pet for your little ones, though. :)

Janet said...

As a former kid who always wanted the dog but was always told no for any number of reasons I say


As for mine, I'm still waiting.:(

Grins said...

I am a total dog person so want to say yes, YES, YES! But it is a huge responsibility as you already know. If you both think you have the time to devote to training though by all means it will only add to the richness of your family. ;-) Here via Michele this time.

Joan said...

Pets can be wonderful companions. They're intuitive and very sensitive to their humans' moods and feelings. They can also sense things in the environment way before we can; as a kid in Florida I was always amazed at how the dog and cats would try to warn us before a big gale or hurricane, not to mention a stranger on our "turf."

Pets can also be a good tool for teaching kids responsibility. But I have to agree with kenju that it really depends on how diligent the parents are. And since you seem to be away from home fairly often, your wife may wind up having to be the enforcer more often than not.

As others have said, if you and your wife feel your family is ready for another pet and all the responsibilities that would entail, I'd encourage you to do it. Cats and dogs each have their own pros and cons and each animal has a different personality - just make sure you choose wisely. :)

Kismet said...

We're in pretty much the same situation and I think we are going to get a yellow lab this summer.



Michele told me to come by, but I woulda anyway :)

Kross-Eyed Kitty said...

I personally think pets make kids AND adults better people!
We are also thinking of getting a dog once we move into a house, the only concern I have is the responsibility of having a dog. We already drag our cats up north with us every weekend (people think we are nuts!) but I don't like leaving them at home alone for days. I don't have kids, but I think having pets requires quite a lot of responsibility, too.
I could recommend a dog-cat Siamese if you are looking for a high-maintanance pet, that doesn't require cold winter-walks!
Here via Michele's!

panthergirl said...

I think it depends on the pet and the kid. Our dog is too big for my son to walk, and quite frankly...he just likes me better. Lucas also has a bearded dragon whom he claims to love, but guess who has to feed the dragon? (I cannot just let the thing die.)

So again... go into it with eyes wide open. A dog is a huge commitment. I've had to hire a dog walker for the days I just cannot get home from work before 5:30, and I certainly have to use her if we want to go into the city for a day and not worry about racing home to feed and walk the monster.

We love our Kelso dearly, but's not a small deal... Can't wait to see what you decide to do! (Greyhounds are really low-maintenance dogs...hint hint)

Here via michele!

Karen said...

Here's my advice: Expect nothing from your kids and hopefully you'll get something. I believe that having a dog is like having another child, but that's because my daughter, who BEGGED for a dog, really doesn't do much with ours. But she's my buddy. (The dog that is.) I think it's up to your wife, especially since you travel.

Karen said...

Oops, and Michele sent me but I stop by here all the time, as you know.

Canadian Mark said...

I think another cat is in order. Of course, I am a cat person, but who could blame me? They're just so much more ... independant. The perfect pet for all ages.

Michele sent me today.

surcie said...

Most behavioral problems in dogs are due to a lack of exercise and/or socialization with other people and dogs. If you guys don't really have the time to exercise the dog, don't get a dog. And then don't feel guilty about not getting one because you'll be devoting what might've been dog time to your children.

But if you DO get a dog, do not get a puppy.

srp said...

Here from Michele tonight.
You KNOW I am the world's worst person to ask this. In the last 20 years I have had four dogs and nine cats. I tend to rescue animals and keep them or find good homes.
Nyssa had animals from day one. She came home from the hospital to a crazy beagle and three Siamese. One could not tolerate the her crying that first night. Nyssa cried, Cassi cried, back and forth. Cassi patted her with her paw trying to comfort both of us.
I think kids learn so much from animals; responsibility, loyalty, relaxation and in general a respect for animals in general.

moon said...

I grew up with pets, but for the first 6 yrs of my daughters life we couldn't have of our live in borders was alergic to everything..being a foster family we had to heed that.
With the changing of times and clients, we were finally able to get a dog...we adopted a shitzu from the spca, she was already trained and spade so it was an easier adaptation...we have since added another little friend for her, that was a puppy a yr old...can't imagine life without them, they add so much to our lives...
The most important though is Morah, she should be the one to agree to it before everyone..lets face it, she will be the one to deal* with the new critter the most lol.

Shane said...

He looks like a mini-Carmi.

Beverly said...

I love the photo of your son and the cat. When the garage door opened, and our cat heard my husband on the other side of the door, she sat patiently waiting for him to walk through so that he would see her and pet her. He's gone, and so is she. I want another one so much, but I have been gone so often lately that it wouldn't be fair to the cat. I do miss her so though. She was the last living thing in my house to keep me company.

a•pril said...

We always had dogs when I was growing up -- and I truly counted them among my best friends. They shared experiences with me, and were there with me whether I needed a playmate, or company to sit with in quiet when things were a little tough. They really do become a member of the family, and can contribute to many fond memories. What a wonderful way for kids to learn responsibilty, and just as importantly, compassion! There is a lot of work to a dog, however -- and yes, Ontario winters are brutal, so be prepared that a lot of that work and chilly early morning walks may well fall into your lap. A family that travels regularly can also incur a lot of cost boarding their dog... and those poor little guys just hate to be away from their "pack." But, being a dog owner to this day, I can honestly say that the added responsibility that goes into them is worth it, and more than a fair exchange for the unconditional love, companionship and protection that a dog will offer to you and your family.

Charles said...

Carmi, that was a very touching and sweet post. Yes, I am a supporter of pets for kids... a good way to teach responsibility and about being gentle.

BTW, you're attending all these tech conferences... did you know I work for Juniper Networks?

Jennifer said...

I do think that having a dog while growing up has shaped me in some way. I think it would be great for your family. As I look at my own kids, not having pets * except fish I don't think that counts* I see how they really are much different then I was as a child. It almost hurts to see they are afraid of dogs and cats. Now I'm not a cat person, but I really thing having a dog is a wonderful thing.

Yes time is a factor to consider but you have three kids right? What's one more and really a dog takes much less time then a child.

Good luck.. I hope you get one.

Sandy said...

I grew up with a dog. I loved her dearly and I think it was an experience every child should get to share in - pet ownership that is.

I don't think having a dog taught me to be more responsible. I think having amazing parental role models did that. Having a dog, however, taught me about unconditional love. Having a pet who would lie with her head on her lap and lick you senseless was a great comfort at times. It is an experience I hope to again share with my children - when the time is right.

Clearly we love dogs. We've had a canine family member for the last 10 years who will break our hearts when she passes next week. Yet ten years is not far enough back to forget the puppy days. Puppies, unless I'm romaticizing human infancy, are like babies only 10x harder. Some how it was easier for me to get up with my child every three hours those early weeks than it was to happily haul my butt out of bed to take the puppy out.

Anyway, my convulted comment (and long - ack! Sorry for the hijack!) is just to say that a dog is a tremendously rewarding and occasionaly frustrating experience that can do wonders for child and adult a like. Best of luck with your decision.

cora l said...

A good friend of mine is a single mom with two children and has always had pets in the house. A couple of years back, her cat and dog both passed away. She's since started fostering dogs with The Animal Rescue Foundation of Ontario and absolutely loves it. The kids still get all the benefits of having pets around. At certain times of the year--when the family is busy or will be doing a lot of travelling--they simply take themselves off the list and don't foster for a time.