Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Getting Personal: “After My Miscarriage, A Dog Saved My Life”

The following essay is a guest post written by my friend, Emily Morris.

IMG_7167On my seventh birthday I got a baby doll. I named her Jenny and carried her around for months, dressed her in baby clothes, and slept with her in my bed. I cut her hair (into what I thought was an adorable pixie but on reflection was more of a crew cut) and treated her just like MY baby. I was a mother at seven, and I knew I would be a mother, for real, some day.

A few years later, at eleven, I started babysitting. At seventeen, I was the youngest counselor at my summer camp. In college, I studied Early Childhood Education. I always just knew how to be around kids, how to relate to them, how to be responsible and loving at the same time. I enjoyed children.

In 1995 I moved to Boston and I was a nanny for many years. My older friends started having babies in the late 90s and I spent a ton of time with them — playing, babysitting, putting them to bed. There were many comments along the lines of, “Emily, when are you just going to have a baby already?”

In 1999, I met my boyfriend and we were great friends for many years before we officially started “dating” (making out?), and by 2008 we lived together. He is a musician and an amazingly funny person and I’ve always loved being around him. He was also fairly clear from the start that he wasn’t sure he ever wanted kids.

I wasn’t worried; I felt that if it was supposed to happen, it would happen. I always had a general feeling in life that things unfold as they should and that the universe was taking care of me, which is possibly (probably!) somewhat naive.

In February of 2011, I found out I was pregnant and it was, to put it mildly, a total surprise. My boyfriend and I had a lot of hard conversations. But after a few weeks, we began feeling excited about the potential. The baby was due December 1st. We had a long time to prepare. My parents were thrilled and excited (I’m an only child, so the pressure for GRANDKIDS is a whole other thing I am not even touching on here). I told my closest friends. Wendy emailed me to say she was pregnant and I emailed her back saying, excitedly, “ME TOO!”

When I was about eight weeks along, I started spotting and I panicked. I called an on-call midwife and she reassured me it was normal, but I didn’t feel right. I left work early and went to the ER, where I had an ultrasound and my gut fear was confirmed.

I kept thinking of the line from an Aimee Mann song, “Life just kind of empties out / Less a deluge than a drought / Less a giant mushroom cloud / Than an unexploded shell / Inside a cell.”

The next three months were… not awesome. I cried a lot. In June of 2011, two months after miscarrying, I visited New York and sat with Wendy in a coffee shop and just cried. Writing this now and remembering that time still makes me cry because it was the worst and lowest I’ve felt in my life.

A surprise pregnancy wasn’t the greatest thing that could have happened (obviously) but, when it happened, I felt as though in some way it was meant to be and that, OKAY, maybe we really could be parents! Let’s do this! Etc.! Then the rug was pulled out, the pregnancy was over, and there was a lot of yelling, crying, and wringing of hands. It all seemed hopeless and impossible. He was still pretty clear about not wanting kids, and I could not fault him for being honest and knowing his own limits. But I wasn’t sure where to go, or what to do next.

We started going to therapy as a couple that summer. I was about to be thirty-five. I felt such immense pressure to DECIDE WHAT I’M GOING TO DO. I felt like it was all up to me, but nothing gave me much clarity. Every day, I fluctuated between so many conflicting emotions and thoughts. I didn’t want to break up with my boyfriend — this person I adored — for some potential imaginary baby that I may never even have, but there were many times I felt so frustrated I wanted to walk out. It was a very hard time. I felt a glimmer of happiness when our therapist said: “You have a good relationship!” And aside from this one complicated issue, it was a really great one.

In relationships, there is sometimes a lot of blaming the other person for what he or she won’t do or how he or she won’t change. Sometimes my friends will complain to me about their partners and I always think (and often say), yes, but they’ve done that from the start of your relationship and maybe that is just who they are. There comes a point where you have to accept your partner (as is) and then decide whether you want something different in your life or not.

The summer of 2011 is a blur of tears, hard talks, exasperation and soul-searching. My boyfriend was traveling constantly for shows, and I was alone a lot, which was probably a good thing ultimately, as it allowed me to think about what I wanted and needed. I am so thankful for my friends, like Wendy, who would check in with me and helped keep me above water.

In August, I got laid off suddenly from my job as an executive assistant. I started thinking about getting a dog. We have a cat, Elroy, but as I told my boyfriend, “He’s not great company. He sleeps most of the time.” My therapist said, “Get a dog!” I was thirty-five and I had always wanted a dog and was in a position to care for one, with unemployment money coming in and nothing but time on my hands.

I started doing web searches, and I found a woman in New Jersey who had six Boston Terrier puppies. Three females were available. I immediately loved the picture of one with a thin white line on her face and oogly eyes. She was five weeks old. Her birthday was August 10th, just two days before I had been laid off.

In October, my amazing friend Alex and I drove to New Jersey to get my little girl. She was the teeniest little thing and so sweet. I named her Coco. She slept the whole way home, with her head in my hand. That first night I lay in bed and she howled in her crate right next to me until 3AM. I lay in the dark thinking, what did I do? The sleep deprivation was already making me looney and it was only night one. I remember thinking, a baby would be so much harder.

That fall is a blur of potty-training and puppy classes. The new energy in our house made a huge difference. My boyfriend, who had worried how our crabby cat would react to a puppy, immediately fell in love with Coco. The cat barely noticed anything had changed.

Dogs and babies are not the same. I am not one of those people who calls her dog her kid, or refers to herself as “mommy.” I know from nannying for years, and seeing all my friends with kids (really ALL MY FRIENDS have kids. Is there anyone in Boston with no kids who wants to hang out?!) how hard it is to be a parent to a human being. It is crazy hard and exhausting and expensive. And I know it is also rewarding and like nothing else you will do in life.

I may never do it. I am almost thirty-eight now and I have changed my brain to think about my life without kids. And it’s okay. There are moments when I wonder “what if” and I think about those amazing things I will miss out on. Sometimes it does make me sad. But on most days now, I am happy with the choices I have made and how things have unfolded.

Soon after Coco came home I read an essay by Ann Patchett and it was something I wish I could have written myself:

We’ve had Rose a year now, and there has never been a cold and rainy night when I’ve resented having to take her outside. I have never wished I didn’t have a dog, while she sniffed at each individual blade of grass, even as my hands were freezing up around the leash. I imagine there are people out there who got a dog when what they wanted was a baby, but I wonder if there aren’t other people who had a baby when all they really needed was a dog.

Coco saved my life. She made us a family. In June we got her a little brother — Boston terrier #2!, named Auggie. The cat knows, but he still doesn’t seem to care.

emily brownhairEmily Morris is a life long New Englander who eats too much cheese and drinks too much coffee but regrets neither. She loves Mark Ruffalo, Scottish accents, and the beach. She hates turtlenecks, the Kardashians, and her neighbor with the leafblower. She is a currently a nanny but her 2014 resolution is to do more writing. She lives with her drummer boyfriend, two dogs, and one cat, in Boston. You can find her wasting time live-tweeting award shows on Twitter.

If you have a personal story you’d like to share on DearWendy.com, please see submission guidelines here.

83 comments… add one
  • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 12:52 pm

    I’m so sorry for what you had to go through, but love that adopting your dogs has helped you through it! And I love that essay! It is so true. I don’t think my dogs are my kids or even like a kid, so glad I can leave them at home alone, haha 😉 But, they do bring immeasurable joy to my life. And they are so spoiled (which is my fault) but when my dog Cajun snuggles up to me at night and gives me kisses on the cheek I definitely am so thankful I have them. Even when they shred trash in my house or eat my brand new socks 🙂

    I’ve never been pregnant and I don’t plan on it, but I do sometimes wonder what if. It’s hard not to when it does feel like everyone around you has kids. However, having one to match your friends is probably a bad idea 😉 And since that’s the only reason I would have one at this point, it’s not going to happen! 🙂

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    • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:31 pm

      I am sure your friends would let you borrow their kids anytime! People always need babysitters. 🙂 Ironically I am a nanny so I spend a lot of time with kids, which makes me feel a lot better sometimes about NOT having any! Ha!

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  • KKZ January 16, 2014, 12:53 pm

    Aww, dogs are so awesome like that. Glad yours bring you happiness.

    Aside, I am one of those annoying people who calls herself her dog’s Mommy. I don’t know how I got into the habit but it stuck. I won’t try to justify it… but I doubt I’ll stop anytime soon either, haha. 😀

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    • Sansa January 16, 2014, 12:58 pm

      I do the same! I have a cat, a dog, and a ferret, and I call myself mommy lol.

      I’ve also always wanted to be a mother, I can’t imagine the love I would have for them given my love for the pets

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      • KKZ January 16, 2014, 1:04 pm

        I can’t say I’ve always wanted to be a mother. As a kid I assumed I would be one day, but didn’t really give it much thought and wasn’t super excited about the idea. Since then I’ve chosen to stay childfree. I was also way more attached to my stuffed animals than my baby dolls so maybe it’s no wonder that I’ve chosen doggy-mommyhood over real motherhood as an adult!

    • kerrycontrary January 16, 2014, 1:09 pm

      Ashamed to admit it but me too…I know my dog isn’t a baby or my child, but I definitely feel like her mommy. I take care of her, so what else would I be?

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      • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:32 pm

        I do feel like Coco’s mom. I just don’t like referring to myself as “mommy” I guess.

    • GatorGirl January 16, 2014, 1:11 pm

      We refer to our selves as mommy and daddy to our cat. I’m not ashamed of it either. Our friends are Uncle this and Aunt that too.

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      • KKZ January 16, 2014, 1:48 pm

        My parents call our dog “Cousin Balto” to their dogs, and refer to him as their granddog, which I love.

      • GatorGirl January 16, 2014, 2:15 pm

        Oh, yeah we do refer to our parents as grandma and grandpa too! We always tell him he’s going to visit grandma haha.

      • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:33 pm

        Yes, my parents now call them their “grand dogs”. My mom resisted for awhile. Now she’s embraced it.

      • _s_ January 17, 2014, 11:17 am

        Ha ha, yes, my mom has been known to refer to our cat as the “grandcat.”

    • katie January 16, 2014, 1:14 pm

      Jake and I refer to each other as mommy and daddy to the cats, and speak to the cats about “their mommy” or “your daddy” or whatever. It’s hilarious.

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    • Jess January 16, 2014, 1:27 pm

      We do it too (the shame!!!) but everyone we know (including my parents) does the same so I guess we get away with it.

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    • bethany January 16, 2014, 1:58 pm

      I call myself Mommy when talking to the cat. I think it started with a simple, “Bye Bye, Mommy loves you.”, but it’s probably gone too far by now!

      I don’t think my cats are anything close to a baby, but I am still their Mommy 🙂

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  • Sansa January 16, 2014, 12:56 pm

    Awwww what a sweet essay. I’m sorry for your loss but I’m glad you have found such great support.

    If you ultimately decide that you do want to be a parent, you might have to leave your guy :'( but don’t think that it’s too late, people get pregnant later and later in life and you can always adopt.

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  • Jess January 16, 2014, 1:11 pm

    Awwh, I have so appreciated that Wendy focused on a fertility/parenthood theme this week.

    Emily, I can relate to many parts of your story and I am so sorry for your loss. I had a 12 weeks loss in August 2012 and we got a puppy about a month later. My husband (boyfriend at the time) wanted to take some time off before we tried again. Those months of waiting were very hard but having a tiny puppy to care for –it definitely satisfied some of those maternal instincts. Beyond the sadness of losing the baby-to-be, there is a huge hormonal shift which is effectively a post-partum experience.

    I’m glad you have found your way back to your values and dreams. There are lots of benefits to a child-free life and it sounds like yours will be very fulfilling.

    P.S. My sister has 2 BTs that we love and adore. They are the most amazingly expressive dogs.

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    • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 1:18 pm

      I follow two boston terrier accounts on instagram and they are crazy expressive! If I ever need a pick me up I always go look at their photos, haha.

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      • Emily January 16, 2014, 4:20 pm

        My dogs also have an Instagram — cocotheboston. 🙂

      • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 4:22 pm

        haha i started following you 🙂 nothing like cute dog pics for an easy pick me up!

    • Emily January 16, 2014, 4:18 pm

      Thanks, Jess! I am sorry about your miscarriage too. Ugh! The hormones are a roller coaster for sure.

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  • mylaray January 16, 2014, 1:21 pm

    I loved this essay, and couldn’t help tearing up as I remembered my own miscarriage (also unplanned). It’s so true that animals are some of the best healers. Two of my close friends suddenly died this summer, and after being pet-less for several years, we got a cat that really has helped me on those nights I am alone. We’re also planning on getting a dog soon (hopefully a Boston terrier or Boxer, or likely both eventually). I’ve never had a dog but my husband says his childhood dog saved his life during depression.

    Those dogs are the cutest!

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    • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:19 pm

      Thank you! Boston terriers are indeed great, and so silly.

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  • csp January 16, 2014, 1:35 pm

    This is a great essay. Here is my question about pets in general. My husband and I always said that we would get a dog when we had a kid old enough to ask for one. Now with our drama, he is thinking that we should get one now. My thought is that my favorite part of being childless is the flexibility in my life. Sometimes I get home after work, sometimes I go out with friends, sometimes I run errands or take a workout class. We travel extensively as well. I can do any of the things I want to, when I want to. I just don’t get tying myself down for a dog. Anyone else see this?

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    • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 1:38 pm

      I mean I think if you don’t personally *want* a dog then it is going to feel like a chore. If you want a dog then it won’t feel like you’re tying yourself down because you won’t mind going home after work to let them out and having to leave places early because they eventually do need to pee, etc. As far as traveling as long as you get your dog used to being boarded or find a good pet sitter that shouldn’t be too bad. But, it is an expense! Boarding pets can be crazy.

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      • starpattern January 16, 2014, 1:53 pm

        There’s also the “pet swap” friends… Typically, I leave my dog with my parents when I travel because they enjoy it, but I also have friends who I can leave him with. We tend to sort of swap up – I’ll keep your dog/check on your cats while you’re gone, you keep my dog/water my plants when I’m gone. So that’s not as expensive as boarding.

      • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 2:02 pm

        oh yeah that’s true! it’s just not always an option. where i’m at now i don’t have family close by and most of my friends have cats and well my dogs only want to eat cats not live with them 🙂

      • csp January 16, 2014, 2:56 pm

        See, I don’t see those as mutually exclusive things. You can love your kids and feel tied down. I think the same is for a dog. You can love them but also want to go to the gym after work or take a last minute trip. Ya know? That is where I am challenged.

      • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 3:00 pm

        yeah i mean you can definitely feel tied down at times. it’s just that the loving them and enjoying them in your life outweighs the feelings of being tied down. and you can still do those things, just in a slightly different way. you can take a last minute trip you just have to have a good boarder/pet sitter on call. and you can go to the gym after work you just have to take the dogs out first or hire a dog walker to do it, etc. i guess for me they are mutually exclusive. i don’t feel tied down because i love having my dogs. and the ability to take last minute trips, go to the gym right after work, etc aren’t as important as having them.

      • csp January 16, 2014, 3:58 pm

        yea, so for you, the sacrifice is worth it. for me, I am debating if it is worth it right now.

    • iwannatalktosampson January 16, 2014, 1:58 pm

      I get that. They’re a HUGE responsibility. I’ve discussed this on DW to an annoying point, so I’ll leave it at that, but if you love the freedom to be spontaneous, don’t get a dog. When you have kids you’re already tied down so adding a dog is no big deal.

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      • csp January 16, 2014, 2:57 pm

        That is exactly what I have been thinking.

    • Miel January 16, 2014, 1:58 pm

      For many years my parents were thinking about getting a dog. I was growing up, only child, not much company… But they decided against because of basically the reasons you mentioned : dogs take a lot of care and if you travel a lot it might causes problem, etc. My mom had so many criteria about “how the dog should be” (no barking, no hair shedding, no need for big exercise, good with kid… the list goes on) that we were down to like one breed which I thought looked ugly (I was 6). So they forgot about having a dog.

      Instead we got a cat. And a cat was really what we needed. When I was young, the cat was young too so we played together. When I got older, the cat was older too and slept on my lap while I was reading the newspaper or something. We continued to travel a lot which was great for me. That cat passed away just as I moved out of my parents house. Overall it was the company I needed.

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      • csp January 16, 2014, 4:00 pm

        So here is my problem with cats. I am allergic to all animals. Dogs you can train to stay downstairs and off carpets, stuff like that. You can’t train a cat not be in your room, ya know. and I don’t think I want one of those hairless cats.

      • GatorGirl January 16, 2014, 4:05 pm

        Cats can be trained! It’s not as easy but it can be done.

      • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:26 pm

        Cats can definitely be trained. I have always been one who hates cats on tables and things — and hey, my cat learned not to get on the table. There’s also doors and gates to keep cats out of certain areas. Of course gates wouldn’t work with a kitten but you can also adopt an older cat and they are great companions and are often already trained.

        Also they make allergy meds! And often after living with a cat for awhile you will build up an immunity. My mom was allergic for years but she would only have issues if the cats scratched her and now she has two cats and she isn’t bothered much at all.

    • bethany January 16, 2014, 2:02 pm

      I’m with you. I want a dog really badly, but I’m holding off, because I love the freedom and flexibility that cats provide. We can go away for a weekend and leave them home without thinking twice. It’s great! You don’t have to rush home to let them out, or take them on a walk in a blizzard!

      Once we have a kid our lives will be more planned, and structured, and a dog would be a much better fit then.

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      • csp January 16, 2014, 4:01 pm

        yes, I am with you on that one. I just think the main selling point of being childless is enjoying the freedom for now. But puppies are so cute!

      • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:24 pm

        I think you can still be flexible with a dog. We take our dogs on trips and now that we have two it is harder, but when we just had Coco it was relatively easy to do things. You can pay people to do anything — you can pay a pet sitter to come to your house or board your dog for not too much money. It’s another expense but I think it’s worth it. And still cheaper than a kid!

    • muchachaenlaventana January 16, 2014, 2:08 pm

      csp I have a dog and still struggle with a lot of these things, I don’t resent that I have her, and to me it’s not the hugest deal but yes having a dog absolutely takes a lot of the spontaneity and flexibility out of daily life and you definitely have to plan your spontaneity more. If my boyfriend on a whim is like let’s go away this weekend (somewhere I can’t bring her) then I have to figure that out, it couldn’t be just a morning of decision. Or if I want to take an extended trip-also have to see how that will work out with dog care (expensively). I love dogs though and it was hard for me to not have a dog in my life, so it is worth it.If you don’t really love dogs and aren’t willing to rearrange your life to include that level of accommodation for something, I would not recommend getting a dog. Especially if it is more of a one person in the relationship’s decision, because it will end up impacting both of you a lot.

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    • GatorGirl January 16, 2014, 2:17 pm

      Honestly, I wouldn’t get a dog if I was you. It’s a monumental responsibility, and you loose 99% of your flexibility. I would soak up this time you have being flexible and add a dog later when you’re already leading a more structured lifestyle. A cat is a great fit for a flexible lifestyle! We leave ours alone for 2, sometimes 3 days, and he is just fine!

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      • Milla January 16, 2014, 3:29 pm

        I’d agree with all of this, except to caution that not all cats work well with a flexible lifestyle like that. Mine definitely wouldn’t. I’m not trying to say that you don’t take good care of your cats, but some cats do require a higher level of care. In fact, having grown up with four dogs, I would say that my two cats require nearly the same amount of work and attention, minus the need for daily walks and the need to go out. Although we do take our cats outside on leashes near-daily in warmer weather. I couldn’t ever leave them alone for a couple of days for a multitude of reasons, starting with their special diets (can’t free feed with an IBS kitty) to needing companionship and daily meds.

        My wife and I are probably (definitely) crazy cat people, and not every cat needs the level of care we give ours, but I wince at saying that every cat is incredibly low-maintenance.

      • GatorGirl January 16, 2014, 3:37 pm

        Well, of course a cat with medical concerns isn’t going to be as easy, but no pet with medical concerns is. I do think that isn’t the norm though and typically cats do require much less attention than dogs, most specifically because of the litter box and their nature to require much less physical activity. (We do typically have someone “visit” our cat when we’re gone more than one night, because he was bottle fed and needs a lot of attention/companionship. But it is still a LOT easier to have someone stop by for an hour than to arrange multiple dog walkers in a day.)

      • Milla January 16, 2014, 3:57 pm

        It’s true that YMMV with cats (and my one cat who has medical problems definitely NEEDS more attention than the one who doesn’t), but I actually think that the myth of the cat as “the easy pet” is actually kind of damaging. I do volunteer work with a shelter, and I often see people complaining about their cats because they thought they’d be far more low maintenance than they are. Which is not to say that people don’t surrender dogs for being high-energy or having behavioral problems, but not in the same way (generally, with dogs, it’s just stupidity: “my lab puppy needs attention! well, yeah”).

        The organization I work with tries to emphasize that cats should not be left alone for long periods of time and require more interaction than leaving a bowl of food and water out and scooping the litter box once a week. A lot of people think that’s all you need to do, unfortunately.

      • katie January 16, 2014, 4:28 pm

        Cats being easier and also needing actual attention can both be true- and they are both true. If I’m hung up for an extra hour at work, my cats aren’t going to pee in my house because I didn’t get home in time to let them out, for example.

        I mean, Im on your side, I volunteer at a shelter too, but cats are easier, and more flexible, and a lot of people have them for that reason. Cats and dogs fit into very different lifestyles, and that’s ok.

      • GatorGirl January 16, 2014, 4:57 pm

        I guess I feel like I’m totally being misunderstood somehow…

        I feel like what’s being taken away is that I think it’s cool to just plop a litter box and a bag of food and leave your cat for a week, which is far from what I think. All I was trying to say is that cats *typically* are more flexible and require less structured/scheduled care, not that you don’t have to take care of them! Jeeze.

      • Milla January 16, 2014, 5:33 pm

        I’m sorry— I really wasn’t trying to cat shame you or anything, I promise! I’m sure you take great care of your cat. I was just trying to say that a lot of people DO go for the “plop down food and leave” approach with cats, and I’d just like to see people qualify their recommendations a little bit.

        I’m just kind of sensitive about it. I just saw a woman give up her five year old cat because her new puppy took up too much of her time now. And the cat hated the dog, so cat had to be the one to go. It makes me want to scream and overreact on random threads on the Internet. 🙂

      • GatorGirl January 17, 2014, 8:26 am

        Well that is just a crappy pet owner!

      • katie January 16, 2014, 7:01 pm

        No I agree with you gg. I should have said I’m on both if your sides.

        Mills, people suck. We have people give up their animals -cats and dogs- for the dumbest, shittiest reasons. I hear you.

      • bethany January 16, 2014, 4:15 pm

        My cat takes a twice daily pill for his hyper thyroid, and we left him for 2 weeks this fall! Luckily, he is really good about taking his pills and the next door neighbor was able to give them to him no problem.

      • jlyfsh January 16, 2014, 4:20 pm

        getting our dog to take her pills makes me want to sometimes pull my hair out. the only thing she’ll take it in is turkey hot dogs. i always feel bad making someone else do it. once she had my mom up to two hot dogs before she would swallow the stupid pill!

      • bethany January 16, 2014, 4:32 pm

        When I shake his pill bottle, my cat comes over and sits down next to me, ready to take his pill. It’s crazy.

        Our other cat would rip off your arm if you tried to give him a pill. Lucky for us, Calzo is the one with all the health problems, not his brother.

      • theattack January 16, 2014, 4:19 pm

        Our cats require a lot of emotional attention. They would be find if we left them with food and water, but I would never want to do that to them. We frequently go on weekend trips, and we just take the cats with us. Obviously that won’t always been possible, but they freak out when routine is disrupted. They have melt downs if one of us has to stay late at work even.

      • theattack January 16, 2014, 4:20 pm

        They are easier than dogs though, but not low maintenance.

      • Milla January 16, 2014, 7:24 pm

        Haha, I’m glad that mine aren’t the only ones like that! I was starting to think that I just had incredibly needy cats. My one baby girl completely loses her mind if we don’t stick more or less to her routine. Especially if dinner isn’t delivered within the 5:30-6:00 p.m. slot.

    • iseeshiny January 16, 2014, 2:40 pm

      I have a dog and it hasn’t really impacted our ability to be spontaneous, but that is only in the last four years or so since we bought our house because I have these sweet retired neighbors who are always home and love him and are completely willing to come over and let him out for me anytime. They would watch him for me if I went out of town, too, except my sister-in-law and her kids always volunteer. They don’t ever want to give him back, either. It helps that he is an adorable little couch potato who only wants to cuddle and is fairly low-energy.

      But I very much agree with jlyfish – I wanted a dog so much that even when he was a puppy – a lot more high maintenance, and I didn’t have the same neighbors – it didn’t feel like a burden at all. It’s not the same thing as having a kid at all, but what makes it similar enough that it always draws these comparisons is it’s an adorable little living thing that depends entirely on your for its continued health and happiness, something that you love and loves you in return. My life is much richer with him in it.

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    • Jess January 16, 2014, 3:30 pm

      For what its worth, we have a Japanese Chin. He’s 9lbs full grown, he’s indoor trained (ours uses pee pads in the basement but some people also have success with litter boxes), and sleeps 90% of the day. He’s too small to destroy anything. He is VERY fun and sweet and VERY low maintenance. My husband works from home so we have that advantage –he’s not cooped up all the time. This is our second Japanese Chin and the first one was the same. Oh, and many of them don’t bark at all.

      We take him on local vacations and leave him with family for longer trips. No one minds taking him because he’s so small and easy going.

      I’m not really trying to sell you on a dog but I thought it might be worth sharing my particular dog experience. I have to say that we don’t feel tied down AT ALL by our dog. We also have 2 cats who are the dog’s best friends 😉

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      • Jess January 16, 2014, 3:46 pm

        Oh and someone may have already said this but maybe volunteer at a shelter? You’d be helping animals but wouldn’t have to do it full-time.

      • csp January 16, 2014, 4:04 pm

        I would have to look at different breeds and the shelter thing is a great idea.

    • katie January 16, 2014, 4:11 pm

      I don’t have a dog (and kids, I guess, actually) for the same reasons. Also, I don’t think that my house or my life is a good place or the dog regardless of if I wanted one… It wouldn’t be fair to the dog. That being said, get a cat! You should go find a bonded pair of cats, 3 to 5 years old, that are very social and outgoing. Then, you could have your pet, but they will be out of any young high energy phase, and they would have each other so they wouldn’t need so much attention from you.

      Also, if you want a pet, get one! Waiting until potential children for something you want in general seems like planning overkill to me. Don’t wait for someone else to bring a pet into your life if you want one!

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    • bethany January 16, 2014, 4:18 pm

      I wasn’t really sure where to put this, but Pet People– Many Best Western Hotels are pet friendly!


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    • katie January 16, 2014, 7:03 pm

      So I was just thinking about this- make sure you really want a pet your kid might ask you for. Pets bought for children and neglected are big for give ups at shelters… So regardless of what potential kids will want, make sure you actually *want* a pet if you adopt a pet.

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  • AliceInDairyland January 16, 2014, 1:50 pm

    Errbody get dogs instead of children. Hooray! Or cats, my cats are my little loveyz.

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  • bostonpupgal January 16, 2014, 2:07 pm

    I just had to jump in here and say that Boston’s are the absolute best (clearly you can tell by my username that I adore them) We have 2 of our own, and they are the sweetest, most loving dogs we’ve ever had, and an absolute riot to boot. We don’t even mind the obsessive kisses and room clearing farts

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    • Emily January 16, 2014, 4:16 pm

      Yeah, the farts are epic. We’ve even changed their food but still the terrible farts. They are lucky they are cute!!!

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  • kare January 16, 2014, 3:33 pm

    Yay for animals!!!

    When I went through a breakup and moved to a new city where I lived alone, I adopted a cat. I wanted the freedom to come and go but still something to spend time with. I adopted a ragdoll/Siamese mix. He was very traumatized after living in an animal hoarder’s house with 80 other cats. I was originally told he might not ever be affectionate, etc. Within a week, he became my shadow. He’s kind of dog like to me. He comes when I call his name, he understands “no”, “up”, and “down”. He’s super sweet and cuddly, but we also play.

    The point of my gushing is thay if someone wants a dog but isn’t quite sure about the responsibility, not all cats are aloof and independent. It’s still a responsibility, but not as much as a dog.

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    • something random January 16, 2014, 6:09 pm

      I’m more partial to dogs but this whole thread is making me reconsider my feelings towards cats. My entire knowledge of Siamese cats comes from Lady and the Tramp so its good to know they don’t all fall into the stereotypes.

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      • something random January 16, 2014, 6:11 pm

      • katie January 16, 2014, 6:59 pm

        Go to an open air shelter (where the cats roam to some degree) and hang out with them some time!

        Cats are awesome. They aren’t dogs- and I feel like that’s where a lot of “issues” people have with them starts… They want a cat to act like a dog, which doesn’t happen.

      • something random January 16, 2014, 8:50 pm

        I don’t really mind cats in theory. I think I developed an aversion when my husband took in a stray a few years ago. I was in my garage minding my own business when I heard this awful noise (Its hard to describe). Then this giant cat came out from under my car and started walking toward me slowly staring me straight in the eyes. I screamed and ran inside. Being pregnant at the time, I was especially paranoid about cat scratch fever. I realized it (later found out “it” was a “she”) was probably really cold and hurt. Her eyes looked really leaky. I can’t remember what I slid out there for her to eat, probably some tuna, but she walked directly towards it. I thought that was odd because I’ve seen cats before and most of them seem pretty cautious towards strangers. I called the city and they said they would come out and get her and put her to sleep. That seemed really extreme to me. I called my husband and explained the situation and we both agreed I shouldn’t be handling a stray, damaged cat so he agreed to capture the cat so we could take it to a vet and see what the options were. The vet said her eyes were both very infected, she was old, and we should put her down. My husband had developed a fondness for her. We decided to try to heal her eyes and find her a home. I had mixed feelings about this because she was very big and didn’t act like a domesticated cat. We have woods near by with dens of backwood cats that supposedly sometimes breed with the bobcats. We figured she was wild.

        Anyway, my husband started feeding her and giving her eye drops. He would let her out for little bits of time. She slowly mended up but started becoming possessive of him. She would hiss at me (only me) when I walked by her cage. He would let her out and encourage me not be scared. She would stare me down and start walking towards me. I would yelp and run back a little. Her fur didn’t fly up. She didn’t look vexed. She would just continue her pace calmly, like a psychopath who seemed to enjoy my fear. And she would just randomly hiss.

        We ended up giving her to a friend with a barn and a few farm cats. She seemed to take off but I hear she still comes around to eat sometimes at night. I still get the shivers just thinking about her. But I’m sure most cats are lovely. I used to take my older one to play with some kittens at Pet smart (they work with sisca). But I think we might have an allergy in our family, so unless its hairless I pretty much avoid cats now.

    • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:22 pm

      I adopted Elroy from a shelter when I lived alone and he was (and is!) a great buddy for me for many years. He’s still my #1 dude. Look for Maine Coon cats because they are notoriously kind of dog like.

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    • caffeinatrix January 17, 2014, 12:05 am

      My cat is really affectionate. He greets me at the door when I get home, knows his name and responds if I call him, and sleeps next to me every night. He’s super vocal too, which everyone gets a kick out of because he meows in response to whatever you say, like you’re having a conversation! He’s good about not scratching furniture and staying off counters and tabletops- a spray bottle of water and a huge cat tree for scratching helps. I can leave him if I go out of town for a few days, and he’s totally fine as long as someone stops by to feed him and scoop his litter. He’s just about the perfect little companion.
      So, I second the notion that if you want a pet but aren’t sure you’re ready for the level of maintenance and attention that a dog needs, a cat can have lots of personality without being quite as needy as a dog. Also, I adopted mine as a full grown adult cat, for what that’s worth- as cute as they are, kittens are all kinds of crazy and can take a while to settle into their adult personalities.

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  • something random January 16, 2014, 6:05 pm

    I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m glad you found a lot of love and fulfillment with Coco and now Auggie and I wish you continued happiness. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:28 pm

      Thank you!

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  • amad11 January 16, 2014, 8:26 pm

    Thanks for sharing, and dogs are awesome like that…
    On a lighter note, I’m in Boston with no kids and would hang out!

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    • Emily January 16, 2014, 8:28 pm

      Yay! Are you on Twitter? Let’s be friends!

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      • mandalee January 16, 2014, 10:18 pm

        I’m also a no-kids Boston area DWer! Also a nanny and a dog owner/mom.

        Thank you for sharing your story Emily. It was so beautiful, heartbreaking, and hopeful all at once. I’m so glad you found happiness! Dogs are just the best.

      • Emily January 19, 2014, 7:15 pm

        we should hang out!

  • No Pantalones Today January 16, 2014, 9:03 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. It really resonated with me, and I appreciate it. Now I’m going to stalk Coco on IG!

    There’s a good chance my husband and I will be moving to Cambridge in 2014!

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    • HmC January 16, 2014, 10:05 pm


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      • No Pantalones Today January 16, 2014, 10:19 pm


  • missliss January 17, 2014, 2:15 am

    I know I’m super late up this, but thank you for sharing your experience. I am sorry for the loss you endured, but love the happiness you’ve found in your dogs! I just adopted a dog as “therapy” because I have a chronic pain condition that brings me down (I have also been involved in therapy and a support group), and I’m so focused on caring for him that he actually distracts me from my pain. I have no idea right now if I want or will be able to have children, but for now I am okay giving him my love.

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    • Emily January 19, 2014, 7:15 pm

      I am glad you adopted a dog and I hope he is helping you. Thanks for your nice comments!

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