For the past four years my kids have begged me for a pet of some kind: dog, fish, cat, hamster, lizard — they don't care, they just want an animal of their own to love. And I'm the worst mom in the world because this is the one issue on which I refuse to bend, and here's why.
Pets secrete. I once watched my sister wipe her dog’s butt, for real. I deal with enough bodily fluids from the three other humans who live in my house; no way to I want to clean up after an animal.
Pets make a mess. My kids are like an oil slick. They leave a trail of goldfish crackers and toys from one end of the house to the other. There are so many standing puddles of dirty water on my kitchen floor that it closely resembles the New York City subway. If we got a pet, I’d finally have to tear up all the flooring and just put down hay. And no, I don't want a hairless dog.
Pets are expensive. My mom’s dog ate an entire corn cob when it was a puppy and almost died. Yes, that is the dumbest dog ever, and that little corn cob incident cost my mother more than $3,000. I guarantee that if our family got a pet, it would develop some weird life-threatening medical problem that would require me to sell an organ to pay for it.
Pets run away. When I was a kid, our dog ran away many, many times. I will never forget the night my dad was almost arrested after the neighbors called the cops when they saw a strange man lurking in their back yard. That man was my poor father, looking for the dog while my siblings and I sobbed and begged him to find her.
Pets die. The first time I ever saw my parents cry was the day they put our first dog to sleep. There were two more dogs in our lives after that, and it never got easier to make that hard decision or watch them get old and pass away. Some might argue that having a pet and nurturing it from babyhood to death is a good way to prepare kids for the Circle of Life. I am not that person.
And last but not least, a 6-year-old boy lives in my house. He has big smelly feet and he runs in circles around my family room sofa. If I throw something, he fetches it. Remind me again why I need a pet?
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