For the past week, I've been posing as a farmwife. Alright, to be honest, I did not have a husband or children to care for — or even much livestock.
The truth is, I was housesitting for a friend at church who went on vacation with her family and needed someone to care for her two dogs, three cats, dozen chickens and guinea fowl and a cow.
The cow was easy. I just had to make sure she had hay and water. Hearing her moo took me back to pleasant childhood memories of visiting my grandfather and riding in his truck to check on his cattle in the hills of Missouri.
The chickens and guinea fowl were intimidating at first, because gathering eggs was a new experience for me.
"It's not hard," my friend said. "They're more scared of you than you are of them. Just be sure to look in the nest before grabbing the egg. I've seen snakes."
"Right," I acknowledged with a nervous laugh. I made a mental note to myself to check every inch of those nests with a flashlight before sticking my hand in to pick up what the chickens left behind. While their output varied from day to day, I thankfully never saw any scaly visitors in the henhouse.
The cats, one shy calico adult and two friendly black-and-white youngsters, were no problem — as long as I kept their food dish filled. They lived outdoors, which meant I did not have to handle the incredibly disgusting (to me, at least) task of emptying a litter box.
It was the dogs that required the most care. True, they were fairly well-behaved, would get in their crate whenever I told them to go there and only required one feeding a day. But these two dogs were indoor animals and they needed to be let out several times a day. I had to remember to keep things out of reach so they wouldn't chew on them. They did not bark much, but the smaller one loved to jump around me and get under my feet.
I love dogs. Well, most dogs. Growing up, we had dogs — but they lived outdoors.
My dad always insisted our dogs received enough training to obey basic commands, and I think the dogs were the better for it. I know visitors to our house appreciated the fact that they would not have muddy paws jumping on them or the dog's tongue licking their face.
Again, I love dogs. Well, real dogs. Dogs that are big enough to sound intimidating when a stranger knocks on your door. No dog that fits in a purse can do that.
I never understood the appeal of small dogs, especially the ones that continually yip and nip at your ankles. Give me a dog that can really cuddle with you on the porch on a cool morning, that can keep up with you when you go for a walk and that can provide protection through their sensitive hearing, vision and keen sense of smell.
My current living situation and career does not allow me to have a dog, but I dream of someday owning one. The benefits of having a pet are irrefutable and I truly believe they help you live longer and provide companionship that can alleviate depression.
Just like I am sure I will be the perfect parent whenever I have children, I am sure I will be the perfect pet owner whenever I get a dog, keeping it happy and healthy and being firm but fair in my training.
And I am sure I will never own a dog whose breed name includes the adjective "miniature" or "teacup." You can keep your dog in your purse. I will have a dog big enough to carry its own.