“You girls just don’t understand how much of a commitment a dog is,” my father would always say when his three daughters begged him for a puppy1).
Defeated, we settled for2) being cat owners, but I always felt a pang3) of jealousy while observing the relationship between dogs and their owners. And so when the opportunity to experience the long-envied life of a dog owner came along after my uncle asked me to house-sit last summer, I agreed instantly, excited to see what having a dog would be like. I packed my bags and moved into my uncle’s place. I would be a dog owner for three weeks.
A chocolate lab4) then just over a year old, Mocha was one of the most hyperactive dogs I had ever met. She was always distracted by something: a fly on the wall, an invisible squirrel running up a tree, a dirty old sock under the couch. I learned to keep all human food out of reach, for this puppy would eat anything in sight—except her own specialized, puppy-diet-approved kibble5).
Getting used to Mocha’s schedule was not easy. I’m the owner of a cat who sleeps all day, only waking to waddle6) over to her food dish. Mocha’s early-morning walks developed into full-on7) workouts8) as she took advantage of my lack of dog-walking experience, tugging and pulling on her leash until my arms were ready to pop out.
Afternoon games of fetch were impossible as Mocha did not understand that she was required to drop her toy for me to throw it again, resulting in many short-lived games of tag9). I was always it10). And always lost.
The fun continued well into the evenings, as I lay awake listening to Mocha’s loud and endless panting. Curled up in bed next to me after I would give in to her scratching at the bedroom door, her constant twitching11) and kicking left me covered with bruises and scrapes. After two weeks of this, I was exhausted. But the worst was yet to come.
“Mocha!” I called out one evening on my return from another busy day at work, expecting her to come running at the sound of my voice. She didn’t.
I found her lying on the floor in the living room, her head resting on her paws, looking up at me with one of the best puppy-dog-eyes looks I’ve ever seen. She was up to something12). I crouched down beside her and began petting her, hoping she had just been lonely in my absence. But then I noticed the pile hidden on the other side of the loveseat13).
“What is this?” I asked her, heading over to the mess.
Chewed-up pieces of leather and shoelaces lay scattered all over the carpet. The remains of the heel of my sneaker and the soles of my brand-new gladiator sandals14) were dispersed under other pieces of living-room furniture.
“What have you done?” I asked aloud, expecting some sort of explanation. I sprinted upstairs to my bedroom only to discover a trail of rummaged15)-through laundry by the closet. My left sneaker lay abandoned, a lucky survivor.
My cheeks grew hot upon the realization that Mocha had entertained herself by devouring the five pairs of shoes I had hidden at the back of the closet. My new metallic sandals, sling-back16) wedge heels, red-patent17) ballet flats, strappy sandals and sneakers, along with my bathing suit bottoms, were destroyed. Mangled beyond recognition.
I stormed downstairs and stood in front of Mocha, who was now sitting at the bottom of the stairs.
“You ate my shoes!” I yelled, angrily shaking my index finger in her face18). She didn’t budge.
“Do you realize what you’ve done? I don’t have any shoes—you ate them all!” Yes, I was screaming at a dog, but I was sleep-deprived and my frustration got the best of19) me. I threw myself on the couch, tears streaming down my face. For once, Mocha stayed put20).
As the reality of the situation began to set in, so did the fear about all that Mocha had eaten: leather, shoelaces, plastic—these couldn’t be good for a dog. I jumped off the couch, stuffed my pocket with plastic bags, grabbed her leash and took her into the nearby woods for what would be the first of many trips throughout the evening, each leaving more evidence of what had occurred that day.
I’ll admit that for the rest of my stay with Mocha, I never gave her any more affection than a pat on the head. I was bitter, resentful and disappointed that my first attempt at dog ownership had failed. I wasn’t cut out21) for the lifestyle and sacrifices that come with having a dog. Early-morning and late-night walks, destruction of property and a lingering pooch22) smell on my clothing were not big sellers.
And so I learned my lesson, and will settle for being close friends with a dog owner. I can get my fix whenever the pang of envy occurs, then return home to my sleeping, boring, fat cat. She may not play fetch, but at least she doesn’t have the same taste in chew toys.
1. puppy n. (常指未满一岁的)小狗
2. settle for:满足于
3. pang n. 剧痛,悲痛
4. lab:即Labrador retriever,拉布拉多猎犬,一种中大型犬类,性情温和、活泼好动、聪明听话、容易训练、忠实主人。
5. kibble n. 磨成粗粒的食物
6. waddle vi. 摇摇摆摆地行走,蹒跚而行
8. workout n. 锻炼,训练
9. tag n. (儿童的)捉人游戏
10. it n. (捉迷藏等游戏的) 捉人者,找人者
11. twitch vi. 抽搐,抽动
12. be up to sth.:(偷偷地)忙于……;密谋……
14. gladiator sandals:罗马鞋,也称为角斗士鞋,是一款以各种漆皮或各种彩色皮质拼接并带有精致绑带设计的女鞋。
15. rummage vt. 到处翻寻,搜出
17. patent n. (=patent leather)漆皮,漆革
18. shake one’s finger in sb.’s face:用手指指点某人,以表示威胁、警告、责备
19. get the best of:击败,战胜
20. put adj. 固定不动的
21. cut out:安排,计划,派定,规定
22. pooch n.〈美俚〉狗