My father-in-law famously hated the family dog.
Though I had never had a pet of my own when I first met him, this seemed deeply wrong. I couldn’t reconcile his disdain for Rags with the many scientifically-proven reasons why we love our domestic animals, and why that love is good for us. Sure, she ran away and had fleas and chewed right through the seat belts every time they left her in the car. But Ari had adored her, and I couldn’t understand why his father hadn’t.
Until we got Sirius Black.
The story I tell is that this fuzzy little puppy was Ari’s response to my suggestion that we seriously consider having a third child. It’s not untrue and it gets a laugh, but the fact is that we all wanted a second dog. We wanted a puppy for Tessa and Calder to bond with, a companion for our adored Sadie, a little excitement for our little family. There was no doubt: a puppy was a great idea.
Reality was the teensiest bit different. Our experience with Sadie – who is widely recognized to be the greatest dog ever and therefore proof that we are amateur puppy-whisperers – turned out not to be as relevant as we had hoped. Sadie had come home to newlyweds with one job between them and nothing better to do than take her on long walks by the sea and to throw the ball over and over and over.
Sirius, on the other hand, is last in line behind two children, two jobs, and an aging dog well-set in her ways. A good day for him includes a couple of short walks and not getting sat on too much.
I mean, I love him. He’s adorable and cuddly and desperately crazy about all of us, so of course I love him. But when it’s five minutes till dinner and the timer is beeping and the kids are bickering and the dogs are barking, Sirius is the one I yell at. When there are kid toys and dog toys and half-eaten snacks strewn about, Sirius the one I blame. When everyone piles into one bed and I’m pinned in by every living creature in the house, Sirius is the one I kick.
I hate my puppy because he has eaten three whole sticks of butter this week, snatched right off the kitchen counter like some kind of animal.
I hate him because the unsurprising result of his butter binge was a vomit spree, cleaned up by you-know-who when I was already late for work.
I hate him because it’s okay to hate the dog.
He’ll never seek therapy to understand why my temper was so short by the end of the day.
He’ll never complain that I favor the other dog, or that his friends have better toys, or that I forgot to buy treats again.
He’ll keep loving me anyway. And I’ll keep loving him right back.