Against all odds: in dire need of woman’s best friend

By NATASHA SURLES

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My cousin’s dog, Rambo, was the closest I’ve come to owning a pet.

Every weekend I would… My cousin’s dog, Rambo, was the closest I’ve come to owning a pet.

Every weekend I would visit Rambo. He was loveable and sweet, and he followed me around the house wagging his tail. I often snuck him snacks under the table. He loved to eat the chicken from Popeyes. Perhaps that’s why we got along so well. We both loved Popeyes. He was the true definition of man’s best friend.

We even played catch, although I did more of the throwing. We would curl up and sit in front of the television, his grayish fur soft like a pillow. We would watch “Golden Girls” together. I think he liked Sofia as much as I did, considering he would bark at the screen whenever she appeared.

He became a great playmate, especially since the adults would sit in the other room and discuss “grown-folks business.” I was the youngest cousin in the family, so I had a lot of alone time with Rambo. Everyone else was too cool to hang out with me. But I didn’t mind at all.

Now I want a dog of my own, although I have some concerns. My boyfriend often asks me why I want one, but the answer is not “because it’s cool.” My love for Rambo made me want a dog of my own. Dogs offer an unconditional love that most humans don’t have. They’re the most loyal creatures, and they’re extremely protective: Rambo would growl at people who bothered me.

According the Humane Society of the United States, pets are naturally great teachers. “They help people of all ages learn about responsibility, loyalty, empathy, sharing and unconditional love,” says www.hsus.org. This is the reason I’ve always wanted a dog.

I also feel that every dog needs a home. There are thousands of homeless dogs in our country, and many dogs are euthanized as a result.

I would adopt a pet to protect it from the dangers of the world. I understand that owning a pet is a commitment that lasts for years.

If I owned a dog, I would show it the same affection – and even more – that I showed Rambo.

My perfect dog would be a Yorkshire terrier. They’re so cute and energetic – somewhat like me. I’ve played with my friend’s Yorkie on different occasions, and I think it’s a dog that fits my lifestyle.

Unfortunately, in high school, my parents told me that a dog was out of the question. They claimed it was too big of a responsibility and that we had no room in our apartment for a pet. I begged and pleaded my case, but my parents won the battle. Even today I can’t own a pet. My roommates prefer a German shepherd or pit bull over my choice.

My own boyfriend is against it. He feels that my hectic schedule – I work more than 35 hours a week and attend school – would prevent me from properly caring for a dog.

Many owners forget to manage their time and lives around their dog. Adopting an animal is a huge responsibility that many people – even myself – take lightly. Owning a pet is like having a child. An animal requires the same TLC as a child. They are energetic creatures that want your undivided attention and constant care. You have to feed them regularly, bathe them and take them outside.

I can only picture myself, having finally finished my paper at 3 a.m. and closed my eyes to dream about becoming a successful businesswoman, awaking to my dog licking my face to go outside.

So now I wonder if I’m truly ready. What if, because of my busy schedule, the dog becomes lonely? What if the bowl of water I left at home runs out and I can’t replenish it? What if the dog has to use the bathroom? Will it relieve itself inside?

Living with a poor college student is probably not the best thing for a dog – or a college student. Many students party often or have their noses crammed in books. While some college students can balance school with caring for their pets, I’m afraid that I can’t.

I guess for now I will watch dog owners in the parks and wonder how do they do it. How are they able to care for a pet and maintain their lifestyles? Alas, I won’t know until after I graduate from college and find a steady job. Until then I will just play with my friends’ animals.

Natasha loves to babysit her best friend’s dog. If you do, too, e-mail Natasha at nms36@pitt.edu.

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