I caved in a couple weeks ago. I had (foolishly) promised my daughter last year that, one day, we could maybe possibly think about getting her a little puppy. Elysia is nothing if not persistent; since then she has been asking a few times a month when we will be able to visit the animal shelter. In a moment of paternal weakness, I decided to pick her up from school on my day off and run her by the local shelter. You know, just to look.
I gave her the lecture as we stepped out the car: "We're not getting a dog today. We're just here to look and to learn." She nodded in full agreement.
Thirty minutes later I was filling out puppy adoption papers. As my daughter stared at me with wide, pleading eyes, I gave her the second lecture: "If you take this puppy home, you have to understand it is your responsibility. You will walk him, feed him, train him, clean up his poop, all of it. Understood?" She nodded in full agreement.
We brought Scotch (as in "Butterscotch," not "On The Rocks") home that evening. Within 48 hours I was cursing the special place in my heart over which my 11-year-old daughter seems to have full control. The house training, the constant chewing on anything within reach, the yelping whenever Elysia walks out of the room...it's all just a little too much added stress for our family to handle.