How much is that doggie in the window?

I lived with a dog most of my life until my standard poodle Pippi Longstockings died almost 3 1/2 years ago. She had been sick for a long time with bladder cancer, and in doggie diapers most of the last year of her life. Our vet wanted me to put her to sleep long before I was ready -- not for her comfort, but for my quality of life. Fuck that. We went through a lot together: raising 2 kids, a nasty divorce, an emotional move into the city, and one final Christmas. I took care of her until she really did need to go.

Everybody, including me, assumed I would get another poodle within weeks of Pippi's death, both for companionship and for protection in the cold, scary city. But I didn't. It was the first time in my life I didn't have to take care of anybody, and I enjoyed the freedom. I kept thinking I'd get another dog soon ... and then when I moved .... and then soon. I still haven't found another dog.

Every couple of months I look online for standard poodle puppies near me. I always find a couple of good possibilities. And then I don't follow through, for several reasons.

1. I can stay out as late as I want without worrying about finding a nasty mess somewhere in my house -- probably not on the tile floor. I can stay out all night. Or for days and nights. I can shut up my house and travel whenever I want. I've never had that kind of freedom before.

I kept my son Drake's dog Duke this past weekend. He can't be trusted with the run of the house, so I had to put him in the laundry room. I went to church, and then I went out to lunch with a friend. I had planned to go from there to a play, but I realized Duke had been shut up for almost 6 hours, so I came home. We went for a lovely walk, and I enjoyed his company, but I couldn't do what I had planned to do.

2. Poop. Poop is nasty. Poop wasn't quite as nasty when I had half an acre of yard, but my yard is small now. Did I mention Drake's dog Duke was here for 2 weekends in a row, and .... poop. Poop on the bricks by the compost. Poop on my lawn mower tires -- the tires I have to walk behind while I mow. Poop on my shoes. Poop. When Drake and Montana bring both dogs, they leave twice the poop. Ugh. Poop.

3. Standard poodles are expensive, somewhat rare, and I refuse to live with any other breed of dog. Also, I don't give one shit what anybody else thinks of my refusal to live with one of the many other breeds and mixes. I only live with standard poodles. I don't want to analyze or defend or even argue my choice. I only live with standard poodles and that's final.

4. I'll get 10 good years, maybe 12, and then my heart will break again. One reason I haven't done the deed is because Pippi will be a tough act to follow.

5. Back to #3, vet bills and grooming can get expensive. I can do neither myself.

Those are my reasons for not getting a new dog. They're pretty similar to my excuses for not dating.

My reasons for looking every couple of months are almost -- but not quite ... yet -- as compelling. 

1. I rarely go for long walks like I used to, because I don't have a dog to take me. I feel safer with a dog, even though Duke and I were attacked a couple of weeks ago by another dog. I still feel more secure when I walk with a dog. And I enjoy the companionship. On the other hand, I can't take a dog cycling with me, so I'd have to consider whether to walk or ride. Gray area.

2. I suppose I feel more secure with a dog in the house. A loud bark will often scare away a would-be intruder. Then again, I don't often feel insecure here in my house anyway.

3. Somebody to talk to. I'm not going to explain that. I don't talk baby talk though, and I don't refer to my dog as my child.

4. Somebody to clean up spilled food. I've got a 2 1/2-year-old granddaughter. This task is not to be taken lightly.

I guess that's it. I see myself as a dog person, but I'm a dog person without a dog. An uncommitted dog person. I may be in the same situation with a dog as Elvira says I am with men: I expect one to fall out of the sky into my lap and that's the only way I'll have any interaction with one.

So far, the sky has rained neither men nor standard poodles.What a pity, because I really can't make a decision. Although not making a decision is at the same time making one, isn't it?

Anybody got a young black male standard poodle they want to unload? Anybody? Bueller?



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