The Problem With Pets

I have a love/hate relationship with our pets.  I love the dogs when they’re being sweet– when they lick my hand without going overboard, and don’t jump on our friends’ kids.  And I love the tortoise’s fat legs and the way he turns his head to look at us when we make a noise near his cage (I promise, he does this).

But I HATE having to nag my kids to take care of them.

Because, in the end, we only have pets because we have kids.  To wit:  after we returned to the States our three kids united and begged us for a puppy, creating a human pleading front, a great wall that stood between us and sanity.  They fortified it daily, employing various vocal pitches, until we succumbed.  If they hadn’t begged, my husband and I wouldn’t have gotten one, period.  After all, our years in India did not inspire in us a great love of canines.

Anyway, now we have dogs. Two.

The kids gripe about feeding them, giving them water, letting them out to “use it”–their phrase, not mine.  Naturally, I find this reluctance both ridiculous and enraging and it makes me want to say things like, “Back in my day, if our dog puked on the carpet, it was First Seen, First Cleaned.”  (Then again, my sisters and I pretended not to see a great many beige-colored piles in our day.  Not necessary to mention).

And the tortoise situation is worse than the dogs’ because at least the dogs give back a little, you know?  The tortoise, on the other hand, cannot manage to be cuter than he is, and in some ways he needs even more attention.  For one, there’s the salad he has to eat (hearts of Romaine, no carrots).  Also the special lights to keep him warm and to keep his shell from cracking off.  Finally, there’s the picking out of the poo–from his cage, from his water, from his life.

And this is where the nagging really gets hot because the kids don’t want to do any of it, yet I am not going to spend one second of my life touching reptile poop, not even with gloves on.  I have done my share of disgusting things, but that’s not going to be one of them.  At the same time, I’m a decent human being who has created life in my womb and who cannot tolerate the idea that a living creature is sitting in his own…you know…under my roof.

So I nag, and nag some more.  And the nagging makes me very crabby.

I have no solution to this problem because the kids know I’m bluffing when I say we’ll get-rid-of-these-pets-if-you-all-don’t-do-your-jobs-so-help-me.  They–and I–know we won’t.  We won’t get rid of the pets.  Can you imagine poor Torty burrowing his chubby legs down into the mite-infested substrate in a Petco cage?  Me, neither.

So I suppose this particular post counts as a rant.

Maybe there’s no solution to the pet problem?  But if there is, and you happen to know what it is, please share it in the comments.