My mom is at a point in her life where she’s thinking about retirement and some of the tasks that come with it, including financial planning, giving back, etc etc. Her kids are grown up and have their own lives so her time spent with family is significantly less. So I suggested that she get a pet, particularly a dog, because of how much my life has changed for the better after having “adopted” (so to speak) some dogs of my own.
Her immediate reaction? “No way.”
Her reason is actually pretty common among modern-day urban dwellers, NO TIME. No time to walk them, no time to play with them, etc etc. But actually her answer was more in depth. She said that it would break her heart to adopt a pet only to leave it in isolation. She said that it’s equivalent to adopting a kid so you can put him/her in daily, 12-15 hour time-out.
But I was persistent on selling her the idea of owning a dog because I was certain that a pet would make her happy (in fact, dogs can make you feel less depressed ) and lower her blood pressure. My persistence, of course, is genetic, meaning my mom’s gene passed onto me. After 15-20 minutes of arguing, she came back to her original point but this time, it was more impactful:
Mom: Do you love your dog?
Me: Of course.
Mom: Would you give him things that you knew was good for him?
Me: Of course. Without hesitation whatsoever.
Mom: Would you give him freedom if he desired it?
Me: I give him that everyday.
Mom: What if one day, hypothetically speaking, that he wanted freedom from you? Would you?
Then i had to think about that for a second. My pet makes me happy, so that’s why I have him. But is the pet happy? In my case, I can’t say that I’m 100% CERTAIN with double-your-money-back-guarantee-call-now, but i can say with confidence that my dog is happy with me.
My mom made it clear to me that if she cannot be with her dog, she cannot be happy because she know that all those hours spent alone by her dog/cat will NOT lead to its happiness. Her knowing that she’ll be an absentee owner will break her heart. (I know my mom can be such a Nazi sometime when it comes to asserting her will and opinion on me, but when she said that, it finally dawned on me that my mom’s motherly experience and instinct will never be there inside me.)
But I still made the point that a dog would actually spend the time to build up the anticipation and the excitement of meeting its owner when he/she finally came home. Another great comeback: “would you rather be outside exploring and experiencing life, or wait for someone to come back for 12-15 hours everyday?”
Being the wise ass that I am, I wanted to win the argument and said “well, how do you know dogs don’t actually live for those few hours or minutes that it is with you? how do you even know a dog even feels loneliness or that it feels ANYTHING for that matter?”
I don’t know how but she has the best comebacks: “does your dog have feelings?”
I hate it when my mom’s right.
Next day I was walking around her neighborhood and I noticed a couple of dogs in yards where the dogs were tied to the trees for a couple of hours. Not sure if it was everyday, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were because I saw their water bowls next to the trees. I know I need to mind my own business but seeing them like that broke my heart, especially a cold,windy day.
Finally, I began to understand my mom: my 30 minutes of enjoyment cannot justify my pet’s 18-20 hours of loneliness.
*playing Doogie Howser’s music in background*