I would be a terrible, terrible auntie.
This is how I know: my neighbours acquired a puppy. I know because they came over to apologize for it; they were worried that its whining during crate training might disturb me. Oh no, I assured them, I don't mind at all. I used to have dogs back home--I hardly even hear it! Don't give it another thought! ha ha ha!
But while I was talking, here's what I was doing: holding my hand out to the pup, paw-shaped, so she could check it out. Ignoring the people and looking at her, but not too directly and not for too long. Crouching down to make myself smaller. Smiling at her without teeth. Stroking her head, all the way down to the tips of her ears.
I was making that dog love me. On purpose. Because when I opened the door and saw that liver-coloured fur and those soft, clumsy paws, all out of proportion to the tiny body they propelled, I wanted that dog, and I wanted that dog to love me. It worked, too--guess who makes straight for my door every time she passes it in the hall? That's right: my pseudo-puppy.
This has worrying implications for parents of small, engaging children: I will take your children in, I will make them imprint on me, and I will send them home again. It will be entirely intentional. And if they're at least as smart as puppies, they will find their way back to me.
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