In a couple of weeks, I will start a new job. It’s a full-time job at an actual office. I haven’t done that in a while, and I have enjoyed a lot of aspects of freelancing, especially the amount of time I get to hang out with Cali and Jana.
I’m already planning early-morning walks and looking for local dog walkers. I’m trying to figure out how other people manage to work full-time and have dogs — and even kids and spouses. Wow. I used to be able to get everything done while working a demanding high-tech job. I was a lot younger then … but I know it’s possible. The dirty secret of freelancing is that I waste a lot of time. I know I can do things more efficiently.
Still … the quality of life issue is not trivial. Our pets pay the price for our decisions. I’m reading Jessica Pierce’s book, Run, Spot, Run, mentioned in a recent post, about the ethics of having pets. She raises a lot of good questions — and she offers no easy answers. I also keep seeing commentary on the tragic killing of Harambe the gorilla and its implications for keeping nonhuman animals captive.
I do look at dogs differently from the way I consider captive wild animals. Dogs are so much a creation of their relationship with people that I cannot argue that living in human homes is unnatural for them. But their need for social contact, their tremendous cognitive and emotional intelligence, and their dependence on us to meet all of their needs all mean that we can’t just interact with them a few minutes a day, when it suits us, and tell ourselves that they’ll be fine on their own for the other 23 hours-plus of every single day.
It’s a question of balance. I will still give Cali and Jana two walks a day, most days, when I start working. I will find a dog walker for some days. I’ll try to think of other ways to make their environment more interesting. I will tell myself that, even when I am home, they spend plenty of time sleeping or just ignoring me. And I will do fun things with them on weekends.
But I will still feel guilty. Especially when Cali gives me that look.