When you are married, of a certain age and childless by choice a strange thing starts to happen. It sneaks up on you slowly, over time so that you don’t recognize what is happening to you.
Suddenly, it’s Christmas time and you find yourself also booking a ticket for the dog because it wouldn’t be fair for her to spend Christmas at the kennel. It is cold in Salt Lake City, of course, the dog will need a coat. It becomes a little clearer as you realize there isn’t enough room for your clothes because the dog’s Christmas presents and four different dog coats fill most of the suitcase. The dog almost has a different coat to wear for every day you will be on vacation.
You decide that blue is the dog’s color and get her a matching collar and leash in the shade of blue that will contrast best with her fur. The dog has a special dog seatbelt that will keep her safe in the car. The dog has a basket overflowing with toys that she never plays with. You rotate out the toys to better grab her interest.
You start taking her to dog parks so she can have playtime and become socialized with other dogs. You insist that your husband speak to her clearly and not in baby talk so that she can learn more words. You decide the dog needs a larger more comfortable dog bed and start searching online for one that is down filled.
It doesn’t dawn on you that maybe it is a little odd that your dog has a middle name and you use it when the dog is in trouble. “Lulu Bell Chiu, stop chasing that cat this instant!”
It becomes a little more obvious when your family starts sending you Christmas gifts for the dog, although you did send them her Christmas list. Once your Mom starts referring to the dog as her grandchild and has her photo up on the refrigerator next to pictures of her human grandchildren the truth is hard to avoid. Lulu has become a surrogate child. Lulu seems perfectly happy with the arrangement.
My conversations with friends and family usually include the inevitable question, “How’s Lulu?”
Looking down at the framed photo of Lulu and my husband on the desk, “She’s fine.”
“What has she been up to?”
I’ve come to terms with having a dog for a child but a house? We spend a lot of time planning and saving for our house’s future. We want to make sure the house reaches its full potential. We have taken numerous photos to document all the stages in the house’s development. When friends pass around photos of their children we pass around photos of our house.
Questions about Lulu have been replaced with questions about the house. “How’s the house?”
“The house is fine.”
“What has been going on with it?”
“We are thinking of giving it a middle name.”