Recently, my daughter visited and brought her big, energetic, German Shepherd with her. Though the dog is pedigreed and cost approximately the same as an acre of land in Wyoming, he is still a Big Dog with Big Dog needs, habits and bowel movements.
After two months of living with a Big Dog, conversations with friends that own Big Dogs, and babysitting a neighbor’s Big Dog on occasion, I have come to the following conclusions, not the least of which is that I will never own one, even if my husband threatens to cut off my hands and feet and wash my mouth out with soap. Here are ten reasons why:
1. A Big Dog is a guaranteed leg-humper when company arrives. The minute the doorbell rings, a perfectly calm, sane Big Dog will immediately leap upon your leg. I am guessing he wants to prove his Big Dog Alpha-ness to the new humans that are invading his territory, and this is his way of communicating: “See? I can completely dominate this leg. I will dominate your spouse’s too, and all of your children’s legs as well, if you bring them in. If you stay in my house, I will at varying intervals, continue to hump your leg the entire evening.”
2. A Big Dog consumes 1-1/2 – ton bags of food that cost $135 apiece. They can be finicky eaters, and if they do not like the increasingly expensive dog food that is bought to encourage them to eat, it will sit in the bowl and eventually get stale and be thrown out to be replaced with more of the expensive dog food that they do not like. This could waste approximately $3500 per year. While they ignore their expensive food, they are waiting anxiously by the table at meal time to pick up whatever scraps end up on the floor. I suppose the cost of the dog food could be mitigated somewhat by the fact that they are something of a floor cleaner.
3. A Big Dog has really big, scary teeth. Several opportunities arose for me to throw things and pull things with my daughter’s Big Dog during their visit. The Big Dog liked to play ‘tug-a-rope’ and when his teeth missed the rope they sank into, well, me. Then I tried to throw a ball, which my daughter told me that her Big Dog liked. After I threw the ball, the Big Dog brought the ball approximately three feet from me, and, as if taunting me, ran away whenever I got within a foot of him. When I finally apprehended him and snagged his collar, the ball was a wet, soggy, mess. To make matters worse, because the Big Dog would not readily relinquish the prize in his mouth, I had to pull the wet, soggy ball out of a mouth full of big, scary teeth. This cycle continued throughout the duration of play. Sound like fun? No.
4. A Big Dog barks longer and more loudly than other dogs. Since we have a couple of knee-biter dogs adjoining our fenced back yard, my daughter’s Big Dog engaged in a barking competition with them. The more they yapped, the louder and longer he barked. The more we yelled at him to stop, the more he barked. And so on.
5. Their poop is three times as big as other dogs, and is indescribably gross to pick up even if I have a plastic bag on my hand. Who cares? It is still hot and steamy and looks like turd sausages.
6. A Big Dog scares any cat within spitting distance into various fits of hysteria which include, among other things, shredding furniture or disappearing for days at a time, which results in later discoveries of kitty poop in closets or under beds. It does not matter how long the Big Dog is around, a cat does not like a Big Dog (at least my two don’t) and will fight tooth and nail to escape it. This bemuses the Big Dog, causing him to bark loudly and long. Again.
7. A Big Dog smells really, really bad. I understand the dog has been bathed just last week. I understand that the dog has to go outside, even in the rain, to go potty. I get it. But the smell makes me nauseous and bathing a Big Dog is a good thing, really, it is – but it merely delays the inevitable recurrence of dog-stench.
8. A Big Dog has a huge tongue which explores many things and pants mercilessly and often. This tongue, even though Big Dog owners love to tell me that dog mouths are oh-so-much-cleaner than human mouths; drips big, fat drops of doggie saliva all over my off-white rug. This tongue also licks the kitty poop in the cat box and doggie privates and little dead critters in my yard.
9. A Big Dog is destined for monthly vet bills that equal a mortgage payment. It’s a fact that Big Dogs have big, unwieldy skeletons and a propensity for kidney stones, hip dysplasia, and all manner of doggie ailments. Since most people do not have pet insurance, the bills can be outrageous. I would have a hard time loving a Big Dog all the way to bankruptcy.
10. And finally, last but certainly not least, a Big Dog must be babysat if one wishes to take a trip, even for a few days. If one cannot afford a kennel (which is really, really expensive) one must arrange for unsuspecting, but generous, friends to attend the dog not one, not two, not three, but FOUR TIMES A DAY. Really? Yep. Plus feed and water them and pick up the indescribably gross poop in the bag and listen to them bark and perhaps, while the unsuspecting friends are walking them (out of the pure goodness of their hearts) the dog, weighing roughly 200 pounds, yanks on the leash, pulls them over because he outweighs them by fifty pounds, and, as a result, they BREAK BOTH LEGS. Can you imagine the lawsuit? That you would keep these friends? That you would even HAVE any friends? Something to think about.
So, in conclusion – if you don’t mind loud barking, huge, drippy tongue action; poop the size of Louisiana, and do not have a sensitive nose –you are a perfect candidate for the unique joys of Big Dog ownership. Just make sure you have several kind,generous, unsuspecting – and preferably heavy – friends that live close by if you want to get away for a few days; bulk up to roughly Schwartzenegger-esque muscle mass,and make sure you do not own – or ever want to own – a cat.
And, oh yes! Don’t forget to keep those plastic bags handy! The extra-big ones.