The dog is a problem. He’s a golden retriever named BMO – pronounced Beemo – after a character in a cartoon the kids loved. He’s big and friendly. Friendly is actually a gross understatement. He’s nervous to the point of exuberance, but he’s a gentle giant and the boys all love him. So what’s the problem?
ell, he was my wife’s idea. She got a dog and died months later, leaving me with four children and a needy – albeit lovable – hunting dog. Most of the time it feels like another duty, another body that needs my time and effort. I’m still upset, still reluctant to love him fully.
We got him in March or April last year. “What we need is a dog!” said my wife. To be fair, we had a large garden. We’ve already had a cat, some fish, and yes, a snake. So a dog would certainly fit in well: a nice family pet for the kids to run around with, more sociable than the cat or the snake, funnier than a fish. That was Kate’s thought. A natural spoilsport, I wasn’t so sure.
In my defense, she’s had a dog before and it didn’t work out. Before we had kids, one day she came home with a beautiful chocolate lab puppy that grew into a lovely dog. Turns out he was an asshole too. Despite puppy socialization classes, he growled at other dogs. He bared his teeth at children who tried to pet him. Vets refused to go near him, and once he tried to bite me, so we sent him to a nurse on a farm. Honestly, it was a literal farm, not the proverbial farm.
So my skepticism was justified. There were enough mouths to feed, enough creatures to tend. A hairy brute who needed walks, vet bills, and poop bags sounded like way too much work. But sometimes getting married means joining in each other’s dream, even if it sounds like a nightmare. So Kate did the research. Lots of it; she was nothing if not thorough. The result was BMO.
The children played with it in the summer months and rolled around in the garden with their little ball of white fluff. But nothing stays the same. He grew and grew, the weather worsened, and Kate fell ill.
When she was diagnosed with cancer, she said, “We have to get rid of the dog.”
She wanted to simplify things, reduce the number of children and animals we had to worry about. For once, she had to take care of herself. Quite the contrary, I said ‘we can’t do that, the kids already love him’ – and I didn’t want us to become one of those families who get rid of pesky pets after lockdowns.
“Maybe we should have gotten rid of him, but he was a member of the family at that point, albeit a hairy member who spent most of his time in the back garden.”
Our roles had switched. Maybe we should have gotten rid of him, but at that point he was part of the family, albeit a hairy member who spent most of his time in the back garden. He became an outdoor dog – I didn’t want him in the house while she was dying, he made too much chaos.
Now Kate is gone and BMO is here. But that’s life I guess. You love someone, and one way or another you take on their worries, their belongings, their pets. When they die, you take sole custody of their belongings whether you like it or not. Sometimes I look out the window and he looks at me. His big sad head tilts to the side and I feel like I’m letting him down. “Don’t do that shit to me,” I tell him. “I never wanted you. You’re not my dog.” Then I feel guilty and take him for a walk to make amends.
The boys love him. But from afar they will not accompany him themselves. They also rarely play with him now that he’s not a teddy bear like a puppy anymore. But they love going to school with him by my side. As I hug my oldest boy at his school gate, BMO jumps on us both with his heavy paws and joins in. In my weakest moments, I use him as a threat when the boys are misbehaving. “If you don’t get dressed, we’ll have to get rid of BMO,” I say, or “BMO has to find another home if no one goes out in the yard to play with him.” The boys all cry in outrage when I hear these extract lines. It’s pretty bad motivational stuff and very bad parenting I’m sure. i am not proud
But occasionally he wins me over. Sometimes I take him to the beach and he explodes with joy and excitement. He dashes around with other dogs, rolling in the wet sand and running in large looping circles, ears flattened from his speed.
I laugh and thank Kate for putting that crazy dog on me. Sometimes it feels like he’s mine.
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https://www.independent.ie/life/health-wellbeing/a-widowers-diary-the-dog-was-my-wifes-idea-mostly-hes-a-chore-but-occasionally-he-wins-me-over-41860593.html Diary of a widower: The dog was my wife’s idea. Most of the time he’s a chore, but occasionally he wins me over