How I Used Books to Convince My Husband To Get a Dog

This particular journey began about three years ago. Convincing my reluctant spouse to get a dog when we already had two children under the age of six was not easy. It took persistence and perseverance and a little bit of cunning and a few backroom deals.

Most people would first turn to YouTube in their quest to convince their spouse to add a dog to the mix. As we all know from workplace procrastination, there are a plethora of cute dog videos out there. There are the videos featuring rangy but endearing shelter dogs who stick their noses into the camera lens. Gangly puppies who try (unsuccessfully) to steal their beds back from a territorial cat. Cranky looking bulldogs sleeping with adorable infants.

Unfortunately, my husband is pretty smart. He is the voice of reason. He was armed with an arsenal of responses when I showed him yet another dog photo.

“Look, this dog was thrown from a car and broke his leg and now needs a forever family!” I said, thrusting my computer into his face.

My husband was immune to my (and the dog’s) charm. “It’s not the right time,” he replied.

“What about this one?” I countered. “The description says he’s mostly house trained and likes cats! Doesn’t he have the cutest nose?”

“Three walks a day,” my husband would respond. “In the winter.”

I knew it would take more than cute dog photos and depressing shelter stories to get my husband to cave.

Thankfully, we are both big readers, and I am really good at using books to my advantage. (Remind me to tell you about how I gave him a reading challenge before I agreed to get serious with him.) I knew he would get on board with just a little bit of persuasion.

“Hey, I have an awesome book recommendation for you,” I told him one evening.

“How many stars?” he asked me suspiciously, referring to my Goodreads ratings.

“Five, definitely,” I replied, handing him a copy of Marley and Me by John Grogan.

My husband took the book and brought it with him on his subway commutes that week. On Friday, he returned it.

“So…” I asked eagerly, “What did you think?”

“It was great. It made me laugh. It made me cry.”

“So… we can get a dog?”

“Three walks a day,” he replied. “In the winter.”

Hmm, I thought to myself. He is not making this easy. Next book up was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I handed it over. After a week, he was done reading it and gave it back to me with a scowl.

“Cute dog, but so depressing,” he reported.

I kept at it. By this time I turned my attention to cultivating valuable co-conspirators. When my kids were younger, I stocked our home library with Good Dog, Carl by Alexandra Day and Charley’s First Night by Amy Hest and Snuggle Puppy! by Sandra Boynton. Later on, my husband and I took turns reading Where the Red Fern Grows out loud at bedtime, which ended up with us having to answer a lot of our daughters’ questions about death and whether dogs go to heaven. Oops.

As my daughters got older and developed more sophisticated verbal skills, my quest for allies gained traction. This may or may not have been due to the fact that I remained steadfast in my quest to check out any book with a dog on the cover from our library, regardless of literary merit.

“All kids should grow up with a dog,” I said casually to my husband for the two-thousandth time over dinner one day.

“We could teach our dog tricks,” my six-year-old added. “It can sleep on my bed.”

“I love dogs! All I wanted in my whole life,” my four-year-old said, “is a dog.” She followed that statement by making her brown eyes really, really wide and innocent.

Last year, my husband finally gave the green light. We found a dog, a rangy looking shelter dog from Louisiana that was transported by bus to New York City where we live. She came with a scar under her left eye and ears large enough to let her fly away.

We named her Ginger Pye. We walk her three times a day, in all weather.

She was worth the wait.

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