Ernest Hope Hemingway
I don't like dogs much. I wasn't raised with them, found them dirty, covered in slob, and loud. They are high maintenance, have too much energy, and are just generally too much.
I know it. You know it, too: dogs are America's sweethearts. Say a single negative thing about them, and it's like saying someone's baby is ugly. You just don't do it, in polite company, and in this case, on the internet.
During the pandemic, I was lonely. Oh no: here it is, the Twist. Yes, I got a dog. He's a corgi, because I am (of course) that basic of a b*tch. And to top off the basicness, I got him at two months old. Because, puppies. Need I say more? Not if you're also an American. I submitted.
Ernest was a terrible puppy: loud, dirty, and requiring massive amounts of training. But here's the thing: I was raised to believe that if someone who depends on you needs something, that person can be labeled Needy and can be told to F Off. It took many months for me to realize: this corgi puppy needs me to be Present for him. In a big way. It's taken almost three years, but I've come to realize (I think - oh no, here it is again, a Twist) that having a puppy is like being an actual mom.
I used to think people who referred to themselves as their dog's "mom" were obnoxious - and here's the thing! I still do. I refer to myself as the dog's "lady." Lady would like for Ernest to go outside. Lady would like Ernest to fetch the toy, etc. etc. Maybe I'm phobic to "motherhood", but actually, raising a dog, for me, has been like a catharsis: I'm a parent now, however I label it or don't label it. I have someone depending on me for everything. And that, initially, was quite terrifying. Especially for someone who was raised to believe that having "needs" (being loud, being dirty, etc.) were the equivalent of using a siren to wake you up at 3 o'clock in the morning. Unnecessary, wasteful, ugly.
Ernest has taught me how to be a mom - totally. I had to learn selflessness. I had to learn that just because Ernest is muddy, and loud, doesn't mean he has a personal vendetta against me. He doesn't want me to be angry. He's just a dog. I think of children in the same vein: they don't mean to make you angry, they're just being kids. Ernest ate my book once, the one I was almost finished with, and I got mad - but here's the thing (again) - it's not his fault. He's a dog. It's a beautiful thing, when you realize you don't have to hate everything that requires effort and time.
I love Ernest (full name: Ernest Hope Hemingway) to the moon and back. I kiss him constantly, give him belly rubs (which he loves), and, I think most importantly for both of us: I laugh at him, and his antics. When he eats the paper towels, I initially feel resentment, sure, but then - I laugh.
It's really fun, actually, being a dog parent. I proudly wear the title of Lady to Ernest. He's chill, and we have fun. It wasn't always like that when he was a puppy, but it is now, and I can also proudly say I've got some parenting experience (?) under my belt.