I've written in the past about how having a pet is a great way to prepare you for a spouse. The other great thing about pets is they prepare you for having children. This morning, I got out of bed and went out to walk Sophie the Wonder Basset around campus, then through the middle to get her awwwed at and played with by some of the folks standing around. Always a hit, she's a show stopper. One frat guy even told me about how his basset was running around the yard and tripped over his own ears. Awesome. No phone numbers out of the deal, but she had fun. After that, I put her in the truck with me while I ran around town. Sophie loves car rides, first for the staring out the window, and then for the lying on my lap and falling asleep. It's like the only time she's ever completely still around me.
One thing I remember from childhood is the first house I ever lived in, on Baird Drive in Baton Rouge. Somehow, my internal clock knew when it was almost time for Daddy to be home in the afternoon (I don't think I was prompted by my mom or brothers), so I would sit at the window by the front door and wait on him. Now, I knew we owned certain cars, but I never made that connection when he was coming home. Since we lived at a decently busy corner (which I could see from that front window), I would look at every car that came to the corner and wonder if it was him. Also, as far as I knew, that four-way intersection only led to four different locations in the entire world. I was always a bright one. Eventually, one of the cars would turn into our driveway, and there would be much rejoicing (yaaaaaaaaay).
I know most fathers talk about that moment when you come home from work and your kids latch around your legs as the best moment of your day. I remember many things about Daddy while I was growing up, most especially his love for playing with me. He was 39 when I was born, but always was willing to play with me as a kid (my older brothers were out of the house by the time I was five). Sophie's the same way. She can't get enough of me. When I stopped by my Guard unit during all of my running around, my coworker asked me why I didn't bring her in. Simply put, she would be in someone's lap, standing on top of a desk, and neck-deep in every trash can within five minutes of her arrival. But even though I wouldn't bring her in with me, that part of her personality is okay with me right now. Bassets tend to get big and lethargic, so as long as she's all meat & bones and energetic, she can keep it up. Just like a father, I don't want her to grow up too too fast.
So if you're considering kids, get a pet first. They'll aggravate you and impress you about the same as a child, but in the end you'll be better prepared...plus they can be left alone better than children, so you have time to transition into the parenthood mentality. K? K.