It started with this: “I think we should get another dog.”
I approach him with a big smile, to show that I’ve just thought of a very good idea and am quite proud of it. (Everyone knows that when you look really proud of something, even a screwup, other people have a harder time shooting you down or getting mad about it.) “I think we should get another dog,” I declare proudly.
He answers with an incredulous look of horror.
“No really,” I continue. “I’ve thought about this…” (I don’t tell him it was only about two seconds ago.) “…and since we’ve lost the cats, I think we have room to save another life.” (That’s right, I played that card a bit early because I’m not above playing dirty.)
“Why would you ever think this was a good idea?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s self-evident. Because I thought of it.”
“You do realize that when we got married, I went from a house with no pets, to a house with a cat. Then to having a cat and a horse. Then to a cat, a horse, and another cat.”
“Then to a cat, a horse, another cat, and a dog. And then a cat, a horse, another cat, a dog, and another dog. Do you see a pattern here?”
“But the pet needed a pet!”
He closes his eyes for a moment, like he’s counting to ten. “Then it was a cat, a horse, another cat, a dog, another dog, and half a dog.”
“When did we get half a dog?”
“When Jupiter comes over.” (My bro-in-law, who lives with us, has a girlfriend, who does not, who got a dog. But Jupiter’s the kind of dog that really favors alpha personalities, so he often comes home with the very alpha bro-in-law during school breaks.)
“Jupiter’s a pretty big dog. I think he counts for more than half.”
“Only got half a brain.” (Can’t argue with that.) “AND THEN, we sometimes dog sit for M. So that puts us to a cat, a horse, another cat, a dog, another dog, half a dog, and two dogs that aren’t ours.”
“Right, but the half a dog and the two that aren’t ours don’t stay very long.”
“But when they are here, I’ve learned it’s about two dogs over my tolerance. Short term is fine, but not for permanent.”
“But that means you wouldn’t mind another dog.”
“HOW DO YOU FIGURE?”
“I said ‘the half dog and the two that aren’t ours don’t stay long’ and you replied that it was two dogs over your tolerance, which means I’ve got a half a dog’s room left over.”
He just stares at me with this squinty, incredulous look. I think it’s because he’s impressed at my math skills. “We’re not getting a half a dog.”
“No, that’d be silly. I say we just get a small one, like a Dachshund or a Chihuahua.”
“A little dog?” (You would’ve thought I’d suggested a skunk. But he’ already shot that idea down earlier in the month.)
“Why not? It wouldn’t take up nearly as much space as the cats did.”
“This isn’t a space issue. It’s a we’re-not-getting-another-dog issue.”
“That’s hardly fair. You’ve already outlawed goats, potbellied pigs, ferrets, and de-scented skunks. I really think I’m owed a compromise at this point.”
“I let you have fish.” His eyes light up. “I FORGOT ABOUT THE FISH! That made, at one point, a cat, a horse, another cat, a dog, another dog, a half a dog, two dogs that weren’t ours, and two fish.”
“You didn’t let me have the fish. I kind of just brought them home one day and put them on the half wall and waited for you to notice.”
He glowers at me.
“Besides,” I continue, “you don’t even have to interact with the fish.”
“I have to look at them.”
I glower back, and, sensing victory he goes, “SO. Now that we’re down to no cat, a horse, no other cat, a dog, another dog, sometimes a half dog and two dogs that aren’t ours, and two fish, I think we’re good.”
“Hardly good. We still have space to fill. Besides, having the cats taught us that we’re really just dog people, so it makes sense that the next pet is another dog.”
“We don’t need a next pet!”
“Of course we do. We need to fill the hole of loss the cats left. But you don’t get to pick out the next dog. Last time you picked, you picked the broken one that we had to teach how to dog because she somehow never learned on her own.”
“We’re not picking out another dog.”
“Of course not, I just said that. I’ll pick it out. But don’t worry, you get veto power.”
“I veto now.”
“YOU’VE GOT TO WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM.”
“We don’t need options! We’re not getting another dog!” Then he left because his carpool buddy had arrived to pick him up, but I think it was really just an excuse not to continue the conversation.
Since we’ve been married, I’ve broached this topic, or some incarnation of it, a couple of times a month for the last 6 years. To date, he’s shot down fainting goats, a mean pony for Rynn to learn to ride on, another dog, more fish, squirrels, ferrets, potbellied pigs, de-scented skunks, capybaras, snakes, chickens, a duck, sugar gliders, a raccoon, and an air plant. (Not sure why he had such strong views about the air plant, but whatever…). Statistically speaking, I’ve just got to keep at him. I’ll wear him down one day.