Dolly arrived in 2002. Spot joined us two years later. Since then, my life has changed in many ways, some for the better, others not so much. Through it all, my Boston Terriers have helped shape the way I live. Here are eight things — silly and serious — I no longer do because I have dogs.
1. Kill bugs
Growing up in southeast Texas, I learned that rolled-up newspapers and magazines swat way better than actual swatters. In fact, the mosquitoes and cockroaches found in my home state laugh when they see one of those flimsy plastic squares coming their way. I honed my swatting skills well into adulthood, proud that I could kill a bug with one good thwack!
And then I noticed that Dolly was never around to high-five after. I would find her in another room, ears back, sometimes even shaking. Spot proved no different, heading underneath the bed at the first buzz of a fly — you don’t see too many mosquitoes where we live now in Arizona — or the crinkle of a magazine.
Now when a flying bug dares to invade our home, I open a window and quickly close it, trapping the uninvited guest between the glass and screen. I suck creepy, crawly bugs up with my hand vac and set the appliance outside, allowing the insect to crawl out and away, having surely learned its lesson. Dolly and Spot much prefer these methods of pest control.
2. Read magazines unless I’m on an airplane
See above. I barely make it past the table of contents before Spot slinks out of the room, refusing to return until I stop reading about the upcoming season of American Horror Story in Entertainment Weekly or the most pesticide-soaked veggies in Women’s Health.
Eventually, I’ll get an iPad and make everyone happy.
3. Say the word “bath” out loud unless I really mean it
According to psychologist and leading canine researcher Stanley Coren, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, the average dog can learn 165 words. Best guess on my part: Dolly only knows about a dozen or so, as I am a horrible pet parent and have not provided the proper schooling.
The most dreaded word in her book? Bath. I once had a 10-minute phone conversation with a friend about a lovely trip we took to Bath, England, and wanted to take again, before noticing Dolly’s distress.
Now I no longer use the word “bath” unless I want her to head straight for the tub, jumping in all by herself with Spot in tow to get it over with as quickly as possible.
4. Get an uninterrupted night’s sleep
Forget cuddle blocking — Dolly and Spot keep me from sleeping through the night. They start at the foot of the bed, curled up on top of the covers, but around 3 a.m. they decide that being under them offers more appeal.
Dolly stares at me, her nose mere inches from mine, until I wake up and lift the covers for her to crawl underneath. Spot has less patience. He actually headbutts me awake. Also, they don’t coordinate their efforts, choosing instead to let me fall back asleep between requests.
All complaints aside, the pups keep my feet warm in the winter and never have morning breath. Who needs eight straight hours of zzz’s, anyway?
5. Work in a cubicle
When the newspaper chain I worked for eliminated my middle-manager/corporate-flunky position a few years back, the blow to my professional ego turned into a drastically needed life change.
Now I work full-time as a freelance writer and editor. I have total control over my assignments and — most importantly — I don’t work in a cubicle. In fact, my home office sits in a turret. A turret! With a mountain view!
The worst office drama I experience involves hurt feelings when Dolly plops herself into the dog bed next to my desk on top of a sleeping Spot. And when I need a break, we all head to the park for a game of fetch or Frisbee. I can’t imagine working away from home now and being without them all day.
6. Waste money
Dolly underwent treatment for cancer this year to the tune of about $10,000. Spending that amount depleted my savings and then some (actually, a large sum). As a freelancer, I already stockpile cash for slow months, but taking a hit that big for something so important really put my financial position into perspective.
I no longer waste money on clothes I don’t need or spa treatments I can do myself, and I value every day with my sweet pups even more than before, knowing that stupid cancer or another health issue could take them away from me if I don’t have the resources to afford care.
7. Feel lonely
I used to feel a bit alone in life when not in a relationship.
Now I don’t. Because I have dogs, Dolly and Spot in particular, I have constant companionship. They even make excellent travel partners. When I got the urge to visit the Grand Canyon and none of my friends or family members could make the trip, I strapped the pups into the backseat and headed north.
Of course, I was so freaked out by the lack of guardrails, I never once relaxed my grip on them or their leashes. Am I the only one who expected more guardrails?
8. Let stress get the best of me
Look at those faces. How could I?
Are there things you no longer do because you have dogs? Or do now because you have dogs? Please share your stories in the comments!