By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- I will be the first one to tell you that when your kids are grown, gone, and living their own lives, having pets is a great way to engage and keep the parent party going.
When you adopt an animal, the rules change about parenting, but the battle continues. Granted, I don't have to storm upstairs anymore, and scream, do your homework or go to bed, but I still have moments with my furry friends.
For example, if you are sitting at your desk writing an editorial, the animals don't care if they want to outside. They run to the door, scratch, and bark until you get up.
If you miss being ignored, try telling your dogs that they have to come inside and then see them run past you down the driveway. Bedtime is another story. One of my true pleasures in life is carrying Daisy to bed at the end of the day with a pocket full of dog treats they can snack on while we fall asleep.
It's important to note here that it's okay for the dogs to eat in bed, but unless you want to get in trouble, do not bring a bag of chips to bed and tell your wife that if the dogs can eat in bed, why can't I eat in bed? Another good tip is to never wipe potato chip crumbs onto your wife's side of the bed.
The drama changes with animals. For example, occasionally, my Daisy likes to get up and utilize a pad in the middle of the night, but the intent is much different when she jumps off one side of the bed, runs around to the other side, and ask to be picked up again. It doesn't take long to realize that you've become an integral part of some big game, and my lack of sleep is a small price to pay for her fun.
Our other dog Buddy is a whole different problem in bed. There have been way too many times that I fall asleep, only to wake up and find that I am occupying a tiny sliver of the bed, while Buddy is sprawled out on my side. I claim conspiracy as this never happens to Janis.
Eating alone is another luxury that ended on adoption day. For example, there are times that I get up early to write, and I sneak downstairs. Then I make the mistake of putting some bread in the toaster, and while it pops up, you can hear a stampede coming down the stairs ready to share your breakfast. I shared with them one morning, but when I was finished, Daisy started crying. I asked her what was wrong, and she ran to the refrigerator and looked at me like, aren't you still hungry? If I am writing and she is hungry, I guess it's time to give up, as she will sit on my lap and start slapping my hands away from the keyboard.
Of course, Buddy's biggest problem is sibling rivalry, as he always takes issue with Ziggy, our cat, nicknamed "Darth Vader" in the house. Buddy gets upset when Ziggy decides to walk by, and that starts a whole new problem. You can pick Ziggy up, but Buddy takes that as an opportunity to play catch or fetch with the old man. If I had a dollar for every time, I told him to stop it, I would be rich.
Despite the deportment issues, I wouldn't trade the experience for anything. There is no better feeling in the world than watching your pet run outside to greet you after a day at work, and then stay next to you as you write through the night. Adopt a pet, and you won't be sorry.