August 31, 2011

We don't forget or leave behind; we grow.

I’ve spent a lot of my adult life defending our relationship with our dogs.

“They aren’t kids, you know.”


Mmhmm. Thank you, well-meaning friends and relatives.

Listen, I get it. Dogs ≠ children. They can’t take care of us when we’re old, they can’t tell us what they’re thinking, we’ll never watch them grow up and leave the nest and become doctors and lawyers and whatever else.

But, do you know how they are EXACTLY like children?

They’re mischievous, they love to play and they can make a toy out of ANYthing.

They do the craziest things that make us laugh until we pee our pants (sometimes literally).

They poop and puke in the most inconvenient places, at the most inconvenient times.

They put EVERYTHING in their mouths.

They love to snuggle.

They’re completely dependent on us for food, water, shelter, discipline, structure, care and love.

And they somehow know the exact moment we need a quiet, warm presence next to us, comforting us.


This morning (Tuesday), I took Ozzie to the vet – the time has come in our young dog’s life to have his, ah, equipment adjusted, shall we say.

And although I didn’t strap him into a car seat, and he was wearing a leash instead of a uniform, and he was, well, going to get the boys chopped off instead of learning about sharing and cooperation, I couldn’t help but compare the experience to my friends who’ve been dropping off their little ones at school this week.

He was a trooper in the car, although he hasn’t had many car rides in his young life. He sat quietly, looking all around, as I told him what a good boy he was being and chattered on about how everything would be fine, and we’d pick him up tomorrow, and everything would be as good as new.

When we got to the vet’s office, he sprang from the car and skipped up the sidewalk and through the front door with his usual joyful lightness, greeting everyone enthusiastically in the lobby, nubbin tail (and entire backside) wiggling at top speed.

It wasn’t until the vet tech took the leash from me, and he turned back and looked at me, confused, that he realized something was up. Up to now, he’d been on an adventure with his mama, in a car with his mama, meeting strangers with his mama. His dark brown eyes looked concerned.


I told him he was a good boy, and it was OK, and then he disappeared into the examination room while I confirmed his pick-up time with the front desk.

And then I walked outside, a lump in my throat, and got in my car, feeling kind of oddly empty and more than a little guilty. (Seriously, how do parents of human babies DO this?? You have my eternal kudos.)

I called the vet just after noon, and was told he was in recovery, doing just fine, we can pick him up tomorrow as scheduled. After all, it’s an incredibly low-risk and routine surgery for a male dog.

But tonight, as it’s just T and Murray and me sitting here on the couch… Our family has a little hole in it. Until tomorrow, when it can be the four of us again.

(These are the moments when I feel the losses of our other beloved pets the most.)


Now that we’re expecting our own little HUMAN baby, we’ve started talking a bit about how our relationship to our dogs will inevitably change. They won’t be the center of our world anymore. They’ll have to share us, bigtime, with someone who’s even more dependent on us, who will get most of our snuggles and pats and coos, who will always get to eat before they do.

But today was a good reminder that they are just as much a part of our family as they always were, and always will be. They won’t be squeezed out or shoved to the side as our family grows. They’ll be right in there with us, growing too.

9 backtalk:

Shannon said...

I COMPLETELY agree, except our furbabies are two cats. Two cats that need to be on our laps during relaxation time each evening.

With our little girl on her way in about a month, we often wonder how it will affect the kitties.

Only time will tell, but I do know that I will still love their furry little faces very deeply.

the grumbles said...

I hate to admit this, because I when I was the person when I was pregnant who was all, "You're CRAZY, I will still love my dogs, nothing will change!" And I DID still love them, but be prepared that it might feel different. Not right at first, but over time... yeah. It's different.

the grumbles said...

and parents who say that having pets is nothing like kids- bullshit. i got more experience with pee and poo and barf and consistency and boundaries from our dogs than i've had so far with a baby.

Summer said...

This is so true. While we don't have dogs now, I can't remember a time growing up without them. Even now, going home to my Dad's, I get to see my little four legged sister and my heart is overjoyed.

Dogs. . . they are just a part of the family. Different from humans, yes, but the unselfish love they give is unmatched.

This was a great post.

Written Permission said...

Grumbles: Yeah, that's kind of where I was trying to go with this. They'll no longer be our main focus, so the relationship inevitably has to change. But they'll also always be a part of the family, and the family can grow to keep including them, not shut them out, when the baby comes.

It's good to know other people struggle a bit with this, too!

Amber said...

Great post. My comments were going to echo everything Grumbles already said.

There are times I can tell our dog feels left out, maybe even envious of our son (I know, I know, you're not supposed to put human feelings on a dog). It's hard. Flat out, we just don't have as much time to spend with Devo as we did before Billy came along. But we still love him the same. The dynamic is just different.

I have to go hug Devo now. Bye.

Nadja said...

My dogs don't wear clothes anymore, I don't take them shopping, and it's rare for them to get a car ride, but I still love them. I LOVE how protective they are over the babies.

Trophy Life said...

dude. i'm a mess when it comes to my pup, you know that. ; ) it's simply preparation for the milestones that await in the got this. i hope the babe is okay from surgery (i'm SURE he is!).

love you.

horoscopo gratis said...

Well carried out! I would really be happier individual if everyone wrote also as you do. Thanks once more

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