Father’s Day is this weekend. I am honored to have the best dad¹ one could possibly hope for, not to mention a father-in-law I always enjoy spending time with who has never been anything but exceedingly kind and generous to me. I’m lucky. Like, really lucky.
There’s a lot of people out there—including a surprising number of my friends—who don’t have a relationship, or at least not a good one, with their fathers. I don’t know the details of many of those situations, but I always think of these friends on Father’s Day and hope that fences have been mended or some sort of closure has been found².
As for me, as some of you might know, I am the human dad-like figure who belongs to a 42-pound German shepherd mix named Katniss. But do holidays such as Father’s Day and Mother’s Day really apply to those of us with pets yet without biological or human children?
It’s a stretch, but yeah, I suppose I’m a dad of sorts.
Tell me if this sounds dad-ish:
My day usually begins at 5 or 6 a.m., as Katniss often wakes me up to let her outside so she can go potty. Lately, however, she has been waking me up to let me know that I need to move over in bed so she has enough room to hop up and curl into a ball next to me.
Our mornings usually consist of me feeding her, petting her and letting her know she’s a good girl, and Katniss looking as pathetic as possible in an attempt to convince me to stay home from work with her. It almost always almost works.
When I get home, Katniss is, without fail, in hysterics because of her joy to see me—you’d think I was made of bacon with all the kisses I get from her. It takes her a good five minutes to settle down, and she refuses to listen to me until I give her a “dad hug,” which is basically me holding her as tight as I can without hurting her.
If my wife hasn’t already walked her, Katniss and I often venture out into what has lately been nausea-inducing, asphalt-melting Texas heat for exercise. When we return, I refill her water bowls—the lush drinks so much water that she needs not one but two full bowls at all times—and we both go about our business. Her “business” often involves barking, giving my wife and I kisses, and playing. Then it’s bedtime, and I have to make sure there’s enough room for Katniss to lay between my wife and I so our dog achieves maximum snuggle capacity. I’d be shocked to meet a more spoiled and entitled animal.
In between all of that are possibly vet appointments with Dr. K; definitely picking up Katniss’ poop; cleaning out her ears³; monthly heartworm pills and flea treatments; baths; constant whining—from me, because of a lack of sleep, and especially Katniss, a German shepherd specialty; being woken up randomly because Katniss needs to potty from all the water she drank; and vacuuming clumps of dog hair. There’s no day off from being Katniss’ caretakers for my wife and me, a job we often embrace, as we love her and enjoy watching her evolve into a slightly more mature dog.
So: dad hugs, no days off from responsibilities, poop, all-hours care and total dependence of a living thing on me to ensure its survival. That seems dad-like to me.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to soothe poor Katniss, who has gone an entire five minutes without someone petting her.
Many of you—as in perhaps three people out of the maybe five readers I have at best—might have noticed that I have not written any blog posts lately. Commitments such as work, home life, my well-being and frustration have kept me from wanting to write. What sort of frustration? Things like this blog feeling too much like work and not a hobby; Katniss, as much as I love her, being a high-energy handful on a daily basis; a feeling that this blog stinks worse than Katniss’ poo, and no one wants to read about my spoiled, thirsty dog; running out of ideas for posts—how much can one regularly write about a dog, anyway?; and the overwhelming impression that in the scheme of things, this blog is a waste of everyone’s time—what does it accomplish?
This blog is just a creative outlet and may never accomplish anything. I’m trying to be OK with that.
¹ We almost lost dad the fall after I graduated college. He had a heart attack—while driving, no less—and nearly died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital after he and mom parked the car at the doctor’s office. The guy who saved dad’s life is a high school classmate of mine. Small world.
²Leave it to me to make a perfectly good holiday seem dour. I can’t seem to enjoy anything!
³Katniss gets ear infections quite easily, we’ve discovered.