I am not a dog person. When I was in my early 20’s I liked to say that I felt the same way about men, dogs and children: though I liked individual ones a great deal, I felt the general concepts were poor ones. My three children came into my life not long after that, but it would be at least another ten years before I got my first dog.
When my kids did come into my life – or rather, I came into theirs – they were three, five and nine, and trying to understand the changes in their world. They had lived with their mom and dad, and now they lived mostly with their dad, and sometimes with their mom and me, who they had previously known as their mom’s friend from the barn (“there’s that horse smell again,” the middle one said when I came to visit once wearing my oldest, stinkiest sweater). Now the youngest often drew pictures of her family: daddy, mommy, herself, sister, brother. On one of our Wednesday evening visits she turned to me and said “Do you love your daddy?”
“Do I love MY daddy?” I asked, wanting to answer the right question.
“No, do you love MY daddy?”
Hmm. “I don’t actually know your daddy very well,” I replied.
“Well, he doesn’t like you.” This was not exactly news to me.
“He doesn’t actually know me all that well either.”
“Why doesn’t he like you?”
“Honey, that is a question you will have to ask your dad.”
At this point the 9 year old chimed in: “We have. He won’t tell us.”
“In that case I really don’t know what to tell you.”
And then the 5 year old: “I think I know why it is.”
“Why is that, sweetie?”
“I think it’s because you’re a cat person and he’s a dog person.”
“You know, I think that’s EXACTLY it.” So there you have it. Blended families through the true lens of a 5 year old.
Also, it is true that I have always had cats. I grew up with two, and at the time of the conversation above I had four. I also have many of the qualities of a cat: I like affection but mostly on my terms, and I may both demand it and stalk away from it at will. I’m skeptical of new people in my territory (though I rarely resort to peeing on their belongings). I can be tricky to approach but if I have decided I like you I can be quite cuddly. I like being rubbed on the top of my head (except for when I don’t).
Somehow I have become a person with one cat and three dogs. And I posted so many photos of my dogs on facebook I had to start limiting myself to once a day, which was the genesis of the Daily Dog.
It seems that I should be able to write at least as often as I post dog photos. It’s a bit of a stretch for me, but if Scout can catch that frisbee (and he did), I see no reason not to set aside my excuses and just write.