An open letter to Emily about this whole dog business

photo by number657 on flickr

Dear Cousin,

I love you. Just about as much as I love anyone on this earth.  And I have in my past, loved a pet.  More than one.  I mean I used to let those cats SLEEP WITH ME every night, I looooved them, they were my BABIES, and you know what? I’M GLAD THEY’RE GONE.   Going pet-free is the best decision we ever made for our family.

And that is the reason I am going to tell you that you should under no circumstances, get a DOG.  I know your husband thinks he wants one, I know your daughter thinks she wants one, I know all our readers think your kids are going to turn out to be emotionally stunted irresponsible citizens who make a living stealing other people’s identities if they don’t get a one, but I am here to tell you that they are WRONG.  Why? Because YOU don’t want one, and they ultimately want what YOU want, whether they know it or not.  This dog will make you unhappy, and when mama’s not happy…she gets TMJ, gets hopped up on muscle relaxers because she can’t deal with letting the dog out in the middle of the night one more time, refuses to leave the bedroom, gets fired from her job, and starts talking to her new hair dryer.

But you know what? I don’t need to give you any more reasons about how dog hair is gross (and your cleaning lady is going to start charging you more), how you are going to have to pick up POOP (really, both your kids can take care of their own poop, shouldn’t you not rock the poop boat?), how you are going to have to make Kate get a JOB to pay for the tags, license, shots, etcetera that this pooch is going to require.  And what if he gets hurt, or sick? Oh, you can just buy health insurance for YOUR DOG. I’m sure that’s cheap.  And probably really good coverage.  I am sure you will never have to pay out of pocket thousands of dollars so your dog won’t die so your kids won’t be emotionally scarred.

OH, and YOU HAVE TO PAY MONEY FOR YOUR DOG TO GET A HAIRSTYLE AND A MANICURE. Dubya tee eff, cousin. Like you even have time to get your OWN hair and nails done but your DOG will have to have regularly scheduled appointments?

I just died a little just thinking about it.

But anyhoo. Like I was saying. I don’t need to tell you those things.  Because I am going to tell you, in your own words, why you should not get a dog.  So Emily, listen up, because you have something to say to yourself.


by Emily Berry

1) I rarely plan ahead for lunch, which means I either grab something quick (and expensive and not so healthy), or I scavenge something to eat out of my desk drawer, and then find myself ravenous when I get home.  But I’m sure remembering to buy giant $60 bags of dog food for our family pet will be no problem.

2) One of the many things I struggle with is how big of a deal to make out of things – and by “things,” I mean failures on my part. Once I get started thinking about one thing, a giant list of other things I need to do or fix or clean or whatever comes to the forefront of my mind… and I can’t let them go. But I think adding a few dog-care-related things to the list is a great idea.

3) I need to hook up the super awesome printer I bought, I don’t know, probably six months ago. It’s been sitting in a corner since then. I shudder to think of this dog’s fate when your 7-year-old tires of caring for it.

4) I need to keep my car cleaner. So I’m getting a dog.

5) I’m tired of staying up too late. I’m tired of not being able to get out of bed on time. I’m tired of getting myself and two kids out the door every morning. I’m tired of my 40 minute commute. I’m tired of evenings being rushed. I’m tired of being late for everything. I’m tired of having so many balls in the air. I’m tired of feeling like I’m not doing a good job at anything.  Like keeping a dog alive.

6) Sam, at the ripe old age of three and a half, has developed a new interest. Potty humor. I think dog poop all over the yard is really going to help him get over it.

7) I mean, imagine if your husband had memories of seeing his mom get a pap smear. (ok, that one doesn’t really apply, it just cracks me up!)

8 ) Then there’s everything that has to be done in evenings during the school year… homework, paper shuffling, lunch packing, bath time, and, you know, dinner. And taking the dog out for a crap. And scooping the dog’s crap up.

9)  Jenny and I have actually both been struggling with this ungratefulness in our oldest children, and we’ve talked about it a lot.  However, we have no solutions. But maybe I’ll try making Kate scoop up dog crap and see if that helps.

10) And finally…I think I am getting grumpy in my old age or something, because this time around any benefit I might eventually get from this scenario  is vastly outweighed by the fact that I am extremely uncomfortable.

Don’t get a dog, cousin. Don’t. Get. A. Dog.



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46 Replies to “An open letter to Emily about this whole dog business”

  1. I never had a dog growing up. My wife did.

    So after 5 years of marriage we decided to get one – a puppy. She was cute and cuddly, perfect the first day. Went the bathroom outside, used the pee/poo pads, slept in her doggie bed during the day. Life on day one was good.

    …then came the night. The crying/screeching/howling. O.M.G. Having a child was sooooo much easier (at least from my POV).

    I slept on the floor next to the puppy all…night…long. Sleeping every 20 minutes like the dog. Brutal.

    Next day we were both miserable (me and the mrs – I assume the dog too). And my perfect puppy was a different dog. Peed and pooped in the carpet all morning. Tried eating chords to TVs and lamps. Not fun.

    Then – the mrs eyes started to itch and swell shut. Dog allergies! It was the best worst feeling Ive ever had. The dog had to go. …for the sake of my wife, not or the lack of sleep, pet hair, smell, urine in the carpet, etc. …and did i mention dog food smell horrible! Thank goodness the petstore let us return all $250 worth of stuff we had just bought.

    Emily …. dont get a dog! I had one for 1 day in my life. and it was enough.

  2. My family bought a dog from a breeder once and she said she would not sell a dog to a family unless the mom really wanted it. I think this is wise advice. Our dog is 14 years old and my husband and kids love her as much as I do, but I am still the only one who can seem to remember to let her out, feed her, buy food, etc. It really is like having another child in some respects.

  3. I’m not one to sell getting a dog. And I do apologize for making it seem that your kids are going to grow up angry because of it. They will be fine, because they won’t know any different. Most of my friends don’t have dogs and I have never tried to sell them on getting one. And I’m not an obsessed dog owner. I find it a success if mine goes out twice a day and doesn’t starve – now that I have kids. But if you get a dog that doesn’t shed and is hypo- allergenic, get it in the summer when school is not an issue, get one that is already house trained, one that has been trained with basic skills, one that doesn’t need groomed then most of jenny’s points don’t matter (sorry Jenny). But really it comes down to, if a dog is really going stress you out that much (and really they don’t) then don’t get one. I bought my dog knowing that Jeremy COMPLETED disagreed, I take care of the dog, he doesn’t. It works out beautifully. There are no expectations. Maybe Andy would step up and it would be his dog and you wouldn’t have to deal with it? I don’t know and I will butt out now 😉 and stop fueling the fire!

    1. 1. where can you get a dog that is “already house trained, one that has been trained with basic skills, one that doesn’t need groomed..” cause I’ve never seen that really happen!!

      2. I don’t know Andy, but I think we can all agree that most husbands would accidentally but completely forget to care for the dog! just sayin’!

      1. There are shelters that have abandoned puppies that will train them for you (there’s one in Cincy for schnauzers). And there are many breeds that don’t shed or need groomed. Just sayin’.
        If those criteria are important enough, do a little research and you can find all kinds of ways to get around the hard stuff. I know several men who take care of the dog and the wife doesn’t (my dad for instance cleans up the dog poop, takes him to the vet, feeds him etc.) If the man wants a dog bad enough, he can take care of it.
        Oh and I still love you very much! 😉

  4. Emily – I must agree. Not only is this one of the funniest things I’ve read, she has shed such insight on you, I must applaud her. Kudos Jenny.

        1. Yes, of course, we must have coffee. We can further discuss Emily’s neuroses. No worries on spelling/grammar, I am not a member of their Grammar Police team.

          1. Um I’d prefer it if the two of you don’t get together to compare notes about me being crazy!!! But don’t have coffee without me!

  5. Oooh… the dog debate. It’s interesting… isn’t it? Our dog was ignored for oh… about five years. Now he’s getting attention again, and he’s a great dog. I would never, EVER tell anyone that is about to have babies, or add babies, or whatever, to get a dog. Even if they are hypo-this, whatever-that, they are still work, and your babies are work, and if you have babies, they are people, so they are PRIORITY, dogs come second.

    I like my dog. I love my dog. He’s a great dog. When he is gone, will I get another? I honestly don’t know.

    I say this–if you get a dog, get an older rescue dog. Friend “recycled puppies (or is it dog?)” on FB. They have the cutest dogs. Cincinnati-based, and if you decided to adopt, you could come visit me when you do. Maybe try fostering a dog to see if you want a dog full-time.

    There are benefits and rewards to both sides of this coin.

  6. kudos to Jenny – Emily you have the bestest cousin ever!!! My kids WANT a dog sooooo bad. Or a cat. Or anything with fur that can be played with outside a cage. Lucky for me, #1 child is allergic to dogs and #2 child is allergic to cats!! Does it get any better?!??

    And I’m not saying I’m a complete germaphobe or anything, but, seriously – you get dog hair EVERYWHERE and on EVERYTHING! And dog drool. And at some point stuff from the other end, no matter how well “trained” it is. You will step in it in your back yard. It will eat something and puke all over your house.

    Me, personally, as much as I LOVE my kids, I can’t deal with any of these possibilities in my life right now. So, the sugar gliders in their cage is as good as it gets. And honestly, not sure I can recommend those either BUT at least they are in a cage most of the time!!!

  7. My sister just bought a big beautiful house in Liberty Township. Because the previous owners had dogs, they had to replace all of the carpet in the place. There was dog hair in everything. They may as well have been smokers. Do you really want to do that to your investment in Germantown?
    Get them a goldfish. Bowl + water + food = $10. They’ll learn what it means to be responsible with a pet, and in 2 months… or less if they don’t catch on to the whole responsibility thing… you’ll get to teach them about the circle of life.

  8. I am laughing so hard I have tears in my eyes. Now, I need to tuck this post away because those points are way too valid for hubs to ever allow our kids to get a dog. Which they are begging for. Or a little brother. Right now, I’m not sure which would be better.

  9. I feel like I’ve entered a support group for people who don’t like dogs (don’t recommend living daily with a dog). I have felt so alone in my life in this.

    I really was expecting that this collection of posts would lead to a howl (get it) of indignation from “dog mommies” who just got back from taking their beloved poochie-poochie to chemo.

    I’ve never understood why anyone would pay a lot of money to have an animal in their house. Now I know I’m not alone.

  10. I fully give my support and endorsement to this post. Also, Emily, (not to mention,) the fact that your key ring beats you up is a little scary… what do you think a DOG will do?!

  11. Jenny has beautifully articulated the points I tried to make yesterday. The dog will become YOUR responsibility!

  12. You have not even mentioned one of the biggest reasons we will not get a dog: the fact that you can’t even leave the house for more than a few hours without needing to provide some sort of babysitter for the dog.

    1. Excellent point, Laurel! Emily, who is gonna take care of the pooch when you guys are at those 24-hour swim meets you have to suffer through every weekend of the summer? Is your family tent large enough for the pooch? And can he poop in it?
      Also, two words: TENNIS SEASON.

  13. We have a dog. We love our dog. We “rescued” her from a shelter that provided training, so she was potty trained, knew basic hand signals, and was crate trained. But she has cost us at least one child’s college tuition in 7 years of expenses…food, vaccinations, vet appointments, thyroid condition requiring a pill twice a day, two ‘minor’ surgeries, boarding, extra hotel fees when she comes with us (when you can even find a hotel that allows dogs of her size)… plus not being able to make last minute plans, having to be home to let her out when you’d rather stay out, needing to warn friends/babysitters who may be allergic that you have a dog, scooping her poop before she eats it (yes, its a form of pica, and its disgusting), and running to Petsmart at 8:53 PM, praying you get there before it closes because you realize you’ve completely run out of her specially-required-for-dogs-with-sensitive-stomachs-food and you won’t be able to sleep if she hasn’t had dinner/won’t get breakfast because of YOUR failure.

    We LOVE our dog, but have realized it is much harder to give up on them once you have them…you make the decision, you’re in for life. We tried to talk my sister out of getting a dog…she didn’t listen…the dog was sent back after 2 weeks, and my oldest niece is STILL mad at her mom about it (this was last year). So…just sayin’….listen to your cousin. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Karen! You have proven my point! I hope you already have Jack studying for the SATs. Sounds like he is going to need a full ride to college unless your dog “runs away”…

  14. Right on bobby!!!! Had to get the air ducts cleaned too!!! Nasty!

    DON’T GET A DOG!!! We have kids —that’s enough mess for anyone!

    I wouldn’t get a goldfish either—we have “cooked” one and another time we tried that the kids refused to clean out the bowl so I put the fish in the garage til they did…. The kids still ignored them and the fish unknown to me adapted to the cold water so when I took pity on the fish and cleaned the bowl and added new water which was room temperature they died instantly-ARGH!

    No pets!!! Robotic dog only! And they kids ignored that too!

  15. Jenny, this was HEElarious. Nicely done.

    Ok, Em, you know me & Knute and know we’ve both had dogs since we were kids and that our first major purchase as newlyweds was our first Insane Canine, Bailey (who had a brother we ended up getting, too).

    We love our dogs. LOVE them. The kids love the dogs (or dog, I should say, since we’re now on GSP #3). Dogs are and have always been a big part of our lives and – you & Berry know this – a big part of our extended family members lives.

    That being said, I gotta side w/Jenny here because YOU, Emily Berry, Queen of the Berry Clan, have to really really REALLY want that dog in order for the whole “get a dog for the kids” to work.

    Dogs are:

    1. Messy
    2. Challenging to train
    3. Expensive
    4. Destructive
    5. Demanding of your time (take me for a walk! play ball! do it or the shoes DIE!)
    6. Potential allergen producers
    7. Big time poopers
    8. Destined to get old and infirm (and the vet bills are OUTRAGEOUS)
    9. Heart breakers when they do finally pass away

    All that being said, yes, I still have a dog and will always have a dog. Having a dog is a lifestyle choice.

    One last thing – Brownie is the only dog (for the past few years since SIL’s dog passed away) in the extended family of McKnute. Despite the fact that my MIL, BIL, and SIL and her family ALL are all dog lovers and would love to have dogs again, they all work outside of the home. The fact that the dog would be alone for hours upon hours at a time is the deal breaker for ALL of them because they understand that it would be a terribly unfair situation for any dog.

    And if I were in a situation where I was working outside of the home, it would be EXTREMEMLY challenging for me to have a dog as well. The fact that I’m at home is what makes it work.

    Anyhow…my $0.02. You know I love all y’all. 😉

      1. Me call to remind him about the realities of dogs (I think he remembers his time hanging w/Knute and Packer on Kimmel Rd too fondly) or Knute call him to shoot the breeze and plan Indy? 😉

  16. You can’t put a price tag on the companionship and life lessons that can be learned from having a dog. I never had one growing up and our family has a dog now. Our child gives our dog hugs, looks for him in the morning, and smiles when she sees him. It teaches a child that someitmes they have to do things for others before themselves and gives them a sense of responsibility. Also, studies have shown children with dogs/cats may be less susceptible to allergies and have a stronger immune system. If a child is not taking care of the dog or the family isn’t, is that the dogs fault or is that the owners of the dog’s fault?

    The same comments made about dogs can also be made about children – they are messy, cost money, doc visits, etc. When they are your kids or your dog, you don’t mind and love them unconditionally. Changing that diaper or pickign up poop really isn’t that big of a deal. The reality is, it is much more efficient, cheaper, and easier to get a dog taken care of medically than a human in our country and we have no dog insurance. Dogs also help reduce stress, encourage an active lifestyle, and help people with depression. They also provide unconditional love and loyalty, which is quite refreshing especially with the way some people treat others in our society today.

    I think under all circumstances they should get a dog and it will bring so much joy to everyone in the family.

  17. Emily: I think Jenny’s got your number. Not only that, I don’t think she left you even an inch-worth of wiggle room here.

    Jenny: My daughter just moved deep into the Yukon Territory (yes, *that* Yukon Territory) to train dogs. Would you mind having a talk with her for me? Thank you. 🙂

  18. We love our newly adopted 2 year old American Bulldog. Both my husband and I work outside the home, and we made sure to find an adult dog that was pretty well-balanced and used to being alone for part of the day. Certain breeds do better than others, in this respect. Our son is an active participant in her care (he helps feed her, take her outside, goes along with us on walks, playing fetch, etc). She is a beautiful, sweet dog who has completed our little family.

    Prior to Mifflin (she’s named after Dunder Mifflin Paper Co), we always had cats. Cats CAN be very sweet, and funny, and loving. They are also completely low maintenance. They are solitary creatures, and will be fine if you go out of town overnight (we always had someone feed and change their litter boxes if we would be gone more than 48 hours). They’re pretty lazy most of the time, and hunt little bugs and keep your home free of mice (not that we ever had any, but our cats always took care of little spiders and stuff).

    That being said, if you don’t like or understand animals, you should not get a dog or cat. It’s not fair to you, your family, and especially the dog or cat. Mifflin’s previous owner routinely got animals and then gave them away when they got to be too much to handle. They lucked out with Mifflin (she obviously went to a good home), but another dog of theirs (a small shitzu poodle mix named Dunder), ended up being taken to the pound. 🙁 So sad!

  19. Jenny, did you know in your heart this post was going to be a run-away success when you posted it? So, so funny. G’job.

  20. I just laughed so hard I woke my sleeping baby. Why not start with a hermit crab and see how that works out?

  21. Wow I couldn’t imagine our lives with out our standard poodles. They have brought so much love,happiness and joy to our family. I make my living from people’s pets and it really teaches my child to love unconditionally without a dought. I see those kind eyes from everyones pet that visits me and it makes my day the way they play and love u is so great. I think I love my job more everyday because there is always love in it. Once ur done with housebreaking its all up hill. Would u say u would never have had ur children if for the simple fact u had to potty train them or change their pants ??? You would never say that because they r children and it was the best decision and pets make people better , kinder and well rounded . Life for my little girl would be terrible if I had never got her a dog, when she came to live with us she hardly spoke and was very scared from living with her birth-mother. The day I got her lyla our poodle was the best day . She was having a conversation with me more than a few words, it was as if she opened up and came outta her shell. Noone could have done that we tried for a year to get her to be herself and have a mind of her own and it was like the little girl was finally here and was able to herself. I felt like Omg she is gonna be just fine. But that’s just my take on having a dog……….

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