Why I say no to pets

Dear Daughter,

For years now you have been asking me for a pet. I’m pretty sure your first word was “puppy,” and you’ve said that word about 500,000 times since then. The word I have said just as often is “no,” which I’m sure makes me appear cruel in your eyes, and in the eyes of animal lovers everywhere. But I just can’t muster up the courage nor the commitment to get a pet.

The one time I gave in was when I let you have a hamster. I used that experience as a test; if you could take care of a hamster then you were ready to graduate to the next level. Of course, puppies are probably easier—and a whole lot less smelly—than hamsters. I’m not sure why God created hamsters, to be honest. Do the undomesticated kind help society by eating other pests or something? ARE there even undomesticated hamsters? Come to think of it, it’d be kind of funny to see a hamster out in the wild. But if there is such a thing, and if it doesn’t eat pests, I’m certain there is positively no reason why hamsters exist other than to drive mothers crazy.

Anyway… you quickly became uninterested in the hamster when you discovered that cleaning its complicated and smelly cage was an hour-long process. So who got stuck with that job? Moi. You failed the prove-you’re-responsible-for-a-puppy test, honey, sorry.

Of course, I’m one to talk. Back when I was a kid, my siblings and I begged my parents for a dog and they obliged. His name was Bosco. We loved that dog but after awhile the excitement died down. One day, we were sitting around the living room and my brother asked, “Hey, where’s Bosco?” To which my mom replied, “I was wondering when you were going to ask… I gave him away three days ago.”

My mother taught us two valuable lessons that day: 1) We were a shamefully neglectful bunch, and 2) Dogs are a lot of work, and if you can’t keep up with them, you shouldn’t have committed to them in the first place.

I think of lesson 2 whenever you ask for a puppy and I say no. I don’t want to commit to something if I’m unsure we’ll be able to take care of it. I’m less nervous to have a baby than a dog, if that tells you anything. I know I won’t neglect my baby. A dog, on the other hand? I’m not so sure…

Now you’re straying from the puppy path and are asking for a pet turtle. At first I considered it because turtles are cool, but then friends told me that, like hamsters, turtles smell bad, don’t do anything entertaining, and require frequent tank cleaning. Oh, and they live like a hundred years. No thank you.

Maybe one of these days I will develop an extraordinary love of animals and will invite them into our home. Until then, you’re just going to have to settle for a baby sister to keep you company.



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