Christina M. Currie
Christina M. Currie's Touch of Spice column appears Fridays in the Craig Daily Press. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Craig I'm not sure what the motivation was - to give my children something to do or to get a semi-unruly dog trained - but when a friend suggested that one of my girls participate in some agility training using her dog, I had to think about it for a few days.
I was concerned a bit about the amount of time it would take. I know it's past time to be getting my children involved in activities and start working my schedule around theirs instead of the other way around, but I haven't quite been brave enough to make that leap.
Mostly I was concerned about logistics. One dog, two girls. I knew somewhere in the back of my mind that I'd end up with another dog because of this.
Then I reasoned it out. Seven-year-old Katie's not really a dog person, and I was sure this wouldn't be something she'd commit to. If I could just make it past those first few days of begging, I'd be in the clear. That would leave 6-year-old Nikki holding the leash, so to speak.
I still wasn't sure, so I broached Katie with the idea.
"How would you like to borrow a dog and train it to do tricks and stuff," I asked her.
She contemplated. I could see that the idea appealed to her a little.
"I don't know how to do that," she said after a minute.
I told her, "Well, someone would train you first."
"I'm not a dog!" she protested.
I couldn't help but laugh as I explained that someone would teach her how to train a dog.
My main concern through this entire process was that I didn't end up with a new dog.
A week later, I was on the floor dutifully listening as a qualified trainer taught us how to teach our new puppy some manners.
I don't know how I get in these situations. Really.
Evidently, figuring out how to carve a few hours into the week to train someone else's dog wasn't challenging enough, so I signed us up for the duty 24/7.
And by us, I mean me.
The girls continue to remind me, "it's our dog, momma. It was our surprise."
Then you should take your dog outside at 5:30 in the morning, and you shouldn't cry when I make you clean up the mess your dog made when you didn't, and you should put in the time it takes to teach your dog how to behave.
"Having a dog is hard!" Katie whined when I told her she couldn't just open the door and let the dog out to go potty, that she had to escort the puppy to the grass and walk beside him, not just open the door and let him out to go potty.
I used to tease my girls, "I'm going to trade you for a puppy."
Now, I think it's a draw. Having a puppy is like having another child.
Not only do I have to watch him constantly, I have to watch the girls while they're watching him.
Then again, he's an adorable little fuzz ball who's learning fast.
The girls like him during play time. Katie's too afraid of his little teeth to be an effective trainer and Nikki too softhearted to withhold a treat until he complies.
I take the easy road. I just handle it.
That means I'm having a lot of success as a dog trainer and very little success making my girls effective pet owners.
That means there's a lot of whining at my house.
Luckily, I'm finding that many of the methods that work on dogs also work on children. A dog will sit for a treat. So will kids.
Trading my children for puppies would be pointless. Both require that you commit time, energy, discipline and love.
Maybe I should have said, "I'm going to treat you like a puppy."
Because, I'm serious, there's a lot you can get kids to do when you dangle a Junior Mint over their nose.