When I got to be a grown-up, I wanted a dog. I made Tim drive us to Weirton, WV to pick up a three month old Shih Tzu that had been rescued from an Amish puppy mill. There were two rescued puppies for us to choose from.
A snow white guy called CJ had no tail. A whole litter of puppies had relieved each other of tails while in the care of the Amish. Then there was a black fuzz ball complete with a curly tail they called Liz.
CJ wanted nothing to do with us. Little Liz decided she wanted us to be her family. She cuddled with us and let Julia carry her around. We held her like a baby and decided that she would be our "Leia".
I fully expected to fall head over heals in love with this dog.
Leia chewed up Julia's toys and took a really long time finding just the right place to use the bathroom. She annoyed me. It took a long time for me to stop questioning our decision to get a microchip.
She's grown to be a spectacular member of our family, but it's not like it was with dogs when I was a kid.
It occurs to me now that I'm in a different place with having a pet. I'm the responsible one that gives her food and water, makes sure she doesn't poo on the floor, gives her a bath, administers heart worm medication, remembers to apply flea and tick stuff, bathes her, trims her face, feet and butt, gets her groomed, and takes her to the vet. I make sure she gets enough exercise and hold her nostrils shut when she's having those blasted Shih Tzu "reverse sneezes". I shoo her outside just before she pukes because she's been outside eating grass like a cow. I keep her from getting run over by cars and caution her against baiting a big dog into a brawl. I wipe muddy paws and messy bottoms.
I do love her, but it's not like when I loved my Gus. I gave him an occasional milk bone and told him my secrets. I didn't think about all of the details or get upset when he ate a rug or my dad's best Phillips screwdriver. It was simple.
Now, with my own dog it's different. It's I love her, but did she have to run right through the mulch again? It's love mixed with responsibility and annoyance. But love is love, right?