I bumped into John at the bagel store Saturday morning. He was there with Stupid. His kids refer to the dog as Sam, but John knows him as Stupid. I understood because I knew Brain Dead was waiting for me at home.

With apologies to Hilde, animal rights activist and former OFS pet columnist, pet ownership sucks. Of course this is simply a male view – mine. I’ve talked to many of my friends. The findings of my unscientific survey are:

(a) Men who have never had children own pets willingly.
(b) Men whose children have grown up and left the home or are divorced and don’t have their kids don’t mind pets.
(c) Hunters and outdoorsmen own pets whether or not they have children.
(d) All other men only have pets under duress.

I’m sure there are exceptions, but I’ll hold to my findings.

Pet ownership begins with a series of lies. Every spouse, parent, or roommate remembers those fateful words “Ill take care of the dog. I promise. You won’t have to do anything.” They Lied! The burden of care and the expense of maintenance always falls upon the individual least concerned with the animal. When the dog (or in the worst case scenario, the cat) throws up at 2:00 a.m., we know who is going to clean it up.

I remember when I got my dog. I got the dog the way most of us get dogs or measles; it was a gift from someone similarly afflicted. In this case my parents said that the children needed a dog. They (the kids) would care for him. We got a redheaded beagle, pedigree name Red Tomahawk that answers to Tommy or Brain Dead. As the leash hit my hand, I knew what my parents were thinking. “That dog will listen to him almost as much as he listened to us.” They were right.

Tommy made himself at home immediately. There isn’t an inch of carpet in my house that he hasn’t autographed. Doors and walls have been damaged, and the fence around the back yard has been dog-proofed twice and still can’t contain him. The enclosed porch, where Tommy was kept when no one was home, now needs extensive work.

Dog ownership can’t be kept a secret. Walk in my door, you can smell Tommy. Those of us with allergies sense his presence. His shedded hair decorates my clothes. And my ankles can attest to the fact that he’s had fleas. His gnawed basket sits in the living room and his barking reminds the neighbors that I have trouble saying no.

I will follow my parents’ example. My children will one day have children and they will need a dog. I think I’ll get them a mixed breed, perhaps half Llasso Apso, half basset hound.

That would be a great dog. He’d be short, yappy kind of dog that would shed everywhere. The kids will love him.