Wow, guys, that was great. That's a lot to digest. In the past few days my wife has been putting real pressure on me to come up with an answer. It's basically like she's decided we are getting a dog, she's just waiting for me to come to terms with her decision. Women.. pfffft! :P
All of your experiences are invaluable which helps me weigh the pros and cons much better. All of these wonderful contributions of insight and testimonials are much appreciated.
And you guys are right - I am pretty much screwed. She brings up this topic consistently in our time together and the supports for my arguments are beginning to crack and crumble under the intense strain of her own reasoning. "Resistance is futile"
It's not that I don't like dogs, but we have three kids (boy 6, boy 4, girl 2) and I'm already bleeding guilt from not having enough to give them with all of life's demands. She's insistent that having a dog won't strain my already depleted time/energy and that it will only help in building up the kid's sense of responsibility. Yeah, that's what I heard before I caved and agreed to a kitten, and guess who the only person was that changed the litter box...
In a perfect world where I worked modest hours, lived on a large property, and where everybody balanced the household chores harmoniously, I would love to have a pure bred golden retriever (a fantasy I likely built up from the childhood novels I used to read). But the reality is I'm just another father trapped in the rat race who misses his kids a whole lot. Maybe if I warm up to it, a pet dog would bring us closer together. It might even pre-occupy my two year old daughter who is always hanging onto my arm while I'm trying to do book-keeping at my computer... Either way, it seems I must cooperate with she who must be obeyed so that I can silence her infinite pestering (I love you, babe, if you're reading this!)
It's a relief to know that with the proper management in place, my material possessions aren't as vulnerable to destruction as much as I initially feared.
One last question. How often do dogs need walking, on average (a boxer as an example)? I'm just concerned because if I'm home all the time with either my two year old or all three kids (home from school, Christmas holidays), I can't just leave the kids indoors by themselves while I'm out walking the dog. It seems like a it would be a big chore for all four of us to be involved with the dog each and every time the dog wants to go out and burn off some energy. Being that I'm in the frigid cold of Northern Ontario, that's a lot of snowsuits to get on in the winter for a single outing!
Thanks again, guys!