I don’t hate my dog. But if it got lost, and I was binge-watching Netflix, I’d have to really motivate myself to go find it.
Yes. I called him “it.” Not my choice. It’s his preferred pronoun.
Why do I have this dog? For the same reason I and so many men like me are broke. Because I have a daughter.
Oh, I don’t have the dog because I love my daughter. I have a dog because I am feeble against her cruel powers of daddy-manipulation. I happily let her play me like a violin. That’s 19 years of being victimized by her Jedi mind tricks. There should be a safehouse for abused fathers where daughters can’t find them.
When my daughter was very young, she kept begging us for a dog. We kept stalling, “Once your little brother gets toilet trained, then we’ll get a dog.”
Instead of a dog we got her a divorce, which I thought she’d love even more!
Of course, she understood the pressures of a newly single father and his need to not deal with another living thing under a roof he can’t afford. (That is sarcasm, for you non-parents)
The dog pressure was building like a dam, so I took decisive action. I got her a fish. When it died, I had to find a fish that looked like it and beat the school bus back home.
She looked at the replacement fish and could tell that something was different. “You know, Dad, that new fish food really is working, her coat does look better.” I lived to fight another day.
But my daughter is stubborn (which I am sure she gets from her mother’s side). She wouldn’t let up. I bought her a gerbil. And then because I am made of steel whenever my girl is concerned, it was soon joined by a guinea pig.
My son has Down syndrome and loves animals kinda like how Frankenstein’s monster loved the little boy he hugged to death.
One day I get a phone call from the new babysitter with two kids screaming in the background like a horror movie. She thinks my son might have killed the gerbil.
When I got home my son looked at me and innocently said, “Nibbles broken?”
And even after that emotional circus I stayed strong enough not to get a dog. But finally, with the patience and skill of a sniper, my daughter’s moment came: I told her I’d needed to be away on a business trip on her birthday.
Lightsaber of guilt, meet Darth Vader. And the Jedi’s final stroke? Between sniffles she whimpered, “You know, Dad, I’d rather cuddle a dog than a boy.”
So, five minutes later there’s like only three dogs at the dog pound.
One is missing an eye, drooling, chewing its way through chain-link on its way to eat me.
The other was this manic tiny quivering dog. The moment I made eye contact with it, it froze and started urinating.
So Gary (yes, God help me, it was named Gary), of which they said (in the same way Obama said if you like your health care plan you can keep it), “Oh, he shouldn’t shed much” comes home.
My daughter’s chastity assured, I became empowered to be that annoying smug dog owner and say, “Oh yes, I rescued him.” Like I ran into a burning building to get him.
Well, all that was many years ago, and I’ve been following Gary with a vacuum cleaner ever since.
Now with my girl away at college the dog is losing its ever-loving mind, peeing on things and chewing up half my house. I keep telling her that since the price of meat has exploded in Gov. Jared Polis’ Colorado, it’s time to harvest Gary.
She tells me I need to give Gary more attention like she used to, 20-minute sessions of intense cuddling and baby talk where he can see your face.
Why tell you all this?
If this dog is a disturbed wreck because it can’t see my daughter’s face for 20 minutes, what kind of emotional problems lay ahead for our kids? They haven’t been able to see their unmasked teachers’ faces for over two years. And, unlike Gary, they have opposable thumbs.
I’m betting there’ll be a need for a lot of “emotional support animals” in the future.
Now, if only my daughter would let me donate one.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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