Feeling the pressure of my public to publish another post and distinctly lacking in inspiration, I was growing desperate. And then, boom! It came to me. I was having one of those days, well, in truth I had had about three consecutive 'one of those days' and I began yet another walk up to the school seriously questionning the comparative benefits of children and dogs. Of course, being completely masachistic I have both, but I was beginning to wonder whether we should have contented ourselves with four legged dependents as opposed to the deceptively angelic and large mouthed bipeds.
Let us consider each case in turn.
My dad, bless him used to say that it was impossible to convince childless couples of the advantages of having children. When you think about it, this would appear to be true. On call 24 hours a day, spending money like it's going out of fashion, sleepless nights, repeated and unrealistic demands, incesssant, meaningless chatter and stress levels through the roof. This improves slightly when they grow a bit, chatter, though still incessant becomes slightly less meaningless, negotiation features slightly more when meeting demands and they have that most wonderful of things, a BED TIME. Stress levels may soar throughout the day, but you know if you can just hang on in there, that come 7pm, (or 6.30pm if the day is particularly taxing), you will be able to return your settee to its intended shape and purpose. Not only that, you will be so blissfully happy to just be sitting down by yourself, you find yourself actually enjoying 'Cowboy Builders'.
A pretty reliable barometer of the success or otherwise of our day is whether or not the children are in their pyjamas when my husband returns home from work at 5.30pm. This is likely to have been the kind of day where I couldn't wait to get them to school, missed them the instant I dropped them off, planned something special for them after school and then, after enduring the bickering and tears which begin the instant we are reunited, wanted to take them straight back.
Or swap them for a couple of greyhounds.
Dog ownership is a wonderful thing. It has been demonstrated that the health of dog owners is improved by their four legged friends and the strength of bond between them is so strong it rivals that of mother and child. Hmmm.
Unlike children, dogs are pretty much happy whatever. Whatever you say to your dog it will look at you with an expression that says, "Yeah! Great! What a brilliant idea!" Dogs do not moan about getting dressed because, blissfully, they come fully clothed. They actually like walking and will not throw a hissy fit because you didn't bring the car. In terms of food, a dog will love you for just simply feeding it, anything. They never ask to go to McDonalds and do not need nagging to use their knife and fork. You can allow your dog to eat in whatever way it chooses safe in the knowledge that you are not condemning it to a future life of social isolation and ridicule. They let you have a cup of coffee. They might even cuddle up next to you while you drink it, but will refrain from pulling your hair, poking your squidgy bits or blocking your view of the tele with their head. Dogs are so wonderfully silent. Even if they do give you attitude, it's actually kind of cute and it doesn't have you reaching for the anger management books.
So, on the face of it, it would appear our canine companions emerge victorious. But do they? It's true, they do all of the above and they love you no matter what, but they cannot make you little mispelled notes of apology and cautiously slide them under your door, or make such innocently profound observations that it is at once both amazing and a little sad. As far as I know, no dog has appeared in a school nativity play where an angel loses her plimsoll and the camels head falls off. Dogs cannot, when shown a crescent moon, remark sadly that the moon is broken and while they will love you to the last wag of their tail, they cannot belly laugh with you over a silly, family-understood-only phrase.
So, I am forced to admit, as I look forward to another week of trudging up to school with two reluctant and increasingly argumentative offspring, that as much as I love my dogs and would indeed like to add another greyhound, that our decision to reproduce was indeed the right one.
(Of course, if you ask me again on Friday, I may be forced to reconsider.).