About a week ago, on the first day I was able to drive my car after the second blizzard in a week, I drove out to my aunt's house in the county to pick up her 6-year-old yellow labrador for a weekend stay at my house in the city.
Before we really get into our main story - a little exposition for you. Over the past year, I have desperately wanted to have a dog of my own. I grew up with a black lab / newfoundland mix named Lager who was a constant source of entertainment - a dog who had so much personality, it was even obvious when he was trying to communicate sarcasm. Ever since, I have longed for another Lager. Though no pup could ever replace The Woojh (a nonsensical nickname my sister and I once gave our bear of a dog), I decided when I finally lived in a place that allowed pets - I'd go for it. As of this past Fall, I am at last in a dog-friendly abode. But now that I have the right house (and arguably the best neighborhood for a dog in all of Baltimore City), I've been concerned about whether I was really ready to handle the responsibility. Could I get home in time to walk him? Remember to feed him? (Seems crazy, I know, but anyone who has been to my house has seen my slowly dying fig tree named "Tony" that is infrequently watered - yes, of course, a dog is different but I have to ask right?) Have enough time to play around?
When my aunt called and asked if I could watch her lab, I saw a chance to test my dog ownership readiness with a dog who is already housebroken, averse to chewing shoes, and possesses one of the sweetest temperaments ever bestowed on a four-legged creature. This would be a great weekend.
So, I coaxed Lily into the back seat of my Accord Coupe (oh, and the previously black leather seats are more of a grey now, our first con I suppose) and drove her back to Hampden where we immediately visited the neighborhood pet store, Howl. We picked out a few toys (I presented them to her for approval before purchasing, of course) and got ourselves a "doggie bag holder" that attaches to the leash - something that, thanks to the presence of abundant yards, county dogs rarely ever see.
On our first walk, which consisted mainly of Lily pulling me down the street at more of a jog/run pace than a walk, she decided to break the ice by using not one, but two of the newly purchased yellow bags. Con? Not really. I'm going to have to get used to this if I get a dog myself, right? Unfortunately, things in Lily's typical walking territory are a bit more spread out so she was not used to being pulled close as cars on the main drag squeaked by in the one plowed lane. Con.
Throughout the weekend, we had a lot of great walks - I got to know most of my neighbors who have dogs and had a lot of interesting conversations about who the best trainers are when I finally get my black lab - information that I'm sure will be invaluable in a few months. Definitely a pro. However, we also enjoyed a few late night "let's get one last walk in before bedtime" strolls where Lily, determined to sniff every snow bank in northern Baltimore city, actually laid me out on several patches of black ice. Con.
Now, Lilly grew up with my three cousins and each has showered various affections on this loveable little lab. One such comfort Lilly has grown accustomed to - sleeping on the bed. For everyone that is saying to themselves "Oh no! Ewww! A dog in bed?" let me just say that she is the cutest little sleeper ever and, if you're like me and your feet get cold at night, having her at the bottom of the bed is amazing. She's so warm! Pro. However, she also has had some pretty interesting dreams lately and I have ended up with a paw in the face or kick to the stomach once or twice. She's small but when you're sleeping, that still comes as a shock. Con.
Sunday evening rolled around and my aunt and mother insisted I take Lilly to my mother's county residence for the week. However, I saw an opportunity to really test my readiness in a work-week scenario! Lily would be staying at my house! Each day when I left for work, we took our morning walk (Pro - it's nice to start the day with a stroll!) and every evening, she welcomed me back with more enthusiasm than a Tuesday evening deserves. Pro. She did a great job staying out of trouble while home alone during the days - or at least was smart enough to cover her tracks - and played almost entirely with her own toys! Pro. Yes, she did sneak into my roommate's room to grab a little stuffed bear (okay, con) but I caught her as she was coming back downstairs with her trophy and promptly closed the bedroom door to avoid another attempt. No harm done - the bear is back where he belongs. I guess the toy front is a tie - one pro, one con.
Over our last weekend together, Lilly followed my boyfriend around like a shadow. The two were inseparable. The last pro of the Lilly visit? Watching Lilly and Shawn play like kids in the basement. If there's anything cuter than watching a guy play with a dog, let me know though I doubt you'll find an example. Sadly, Lilly is going home today - we took our last morning walk together this morning and I told her to "be good" during her last day in Hampden. I doubt I'll be able to resist taking her for one more long evening walk before returning her to her suburban paradise and I know I'll be looking forward to her next visit. In the mean time, I'm going to investigate getting my own pup this spring. It seems I can handle the responsibility after all. If you're on the fence about getting one of your own, I highly recommend borrowing a dog.