THE DOG DAYS ARE OVER

I’m sorry I don’t love you as much as I used to. Only a year ago you were my favourite.

I looked forward to seeing you in the morning and holding you at night as we fell asleep. Although we still sleep under the same roof, in the same bed, we both know things have changed and my heart lies with someone else. It’s a shame it had to be this way.

Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think, “why are you even still here?” But then I remember you can’t leave; you’re a permanent fixture. I toss a bone on the floor for you to chew, in the hopes that you will stop demanding my constant attention.

My husband and I are the couple idiots that decided to get not one, but two dogs before we had a baby. The early days were bliss. Our puppies were star pupils in dog school, graduating top of their class. They were basically famous, making appearances on Cityline and in Toronto Life; we had some inside connections but still, they were simply that cute.

We named them Montrose and Harriet. They have gorgeous, hypoallergenic, apricot fur and they are groomed to perfection. Their teeth are clean and they are the only adults in our home that remain in peak physical shape.

We adored them, doted on them and allowed them many, many privileges. We would walk through the park with our beauty pups, knowing damn well that their good looks and ideal behaviour gave us more Toronto Yuppy street cred than a new BMW or a Canada Goose jacket.

But then our baby was born.

Instantly everything changed. The sound of a wailing, small, novelty human was alarming. The flailing and pinching limbs were unpredictable and frightening. The dog’s anxiety levels peaked and our perfect canine angels turned into annoying pieces of actual garbage. Fewer walks, increased anxiety and wacky schedules; the dogs expressed their disdain with floor pees and wince worthy barking fits.

There are solutions available – but those that involve my time and undivided attention are difficult. Our vet recommended anti-anxiety meds. Didn’t work. Our local marijuana dispensary recommended canine cannabis. Didn’t work. Our trainer recommended positive reinforcement methods. Didn’t work. My best friend recommended rehoming. My husband’s eyes welled up for the first time in our marriage. This wouldn’t work.

We decided to simply endure.

After 7pm the dogs somehow become my sweet, hairy pals again. The atrocities of the day are temporarily forgotten and we cuddle in front of the fireplace and dream about the days when strollers and infants didn’t occupy my petting sticks (that’s what I imagine dogs think my arms are).  When I wake up the next morning however, I come downstairs to find two dogs that are hoping the baby has finally packed his bags and left town. I can see their disappointment as the baby spots them, points a finger in their direction and says “dahhh!” Sorry dogs, this guy is here to stay. And to make matters worse, he’s our new favourite and always will be.

There are a few upshots, though – Now that baby has started solids there is a plethora of limp noodles, rice crackers, and steamed peas littering the floor for you to treat as your own personal buffet. There are new toys scattered on the floor – fluffy things that squeak, rattle and roll. Eventually there may even come a day when baby is old enough to pet and cuddle you, “gentle please, please be gentle with his ears. He doesn’t want his bum touched”. For now, you will also have to endure.

I was on a mom forum and a woman posted: “I am 7 months pregnant and have always wanted to own hamsters. I am thinking of getting 3 baby hamsters and buying a fun gym for them”. I was shocked to read so many responses that encouraged this rodent lunatic – “Follow your hamster dreams”, “Live your best life”, “You do you, girl”. Then there was my response “This is a terrible idea. You will grow to hate those hamsters the moment you have to change their shit filled cage while a baby screams in your ear and you are barely surviving off 2 hours of sleep”. I was bombarded with backlash: “This advice isn’t helpful. She needs those hamsters, let her have this small luxury.”

But I knew better. Oh, I knew. I knew from experience that picking up one more mammal shit with bagged hands, after wiping human shit from tiny baby testicles, was enough to drive even the most hardened woman to drink.

I’m sorry dogs for changing your lives so drastically. I’m sorry that I sometimes whisper, “I hate you so hard right now” under my breath. I’m sorry that sometimes I forget to change your water bowl. I’m sorry that sometimes a crying baby joins us in bed at strange hours. I’m sorry that sometimes my affection is replaced with a hasty tossing of random treats. I’m sorry that sometimes you have baby food encrusted into your hair for days at a time.

Hang in there, dog family. I would like to think that this chaos will one day turn into a harmonious household where you are spoiled with affection, friendly play and counterfeit steamed broccoli under the table. For now let’s all just try and hang on a little longer, even if I self-admittedly don’t love you as much as I love the new guy.

PS: If you could try to not eat dirty diapers in my bed, that would be great. You’re gross.

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Erica Moore is an Interior Designer with a degree in Fine Arts and Literature. She is a wife, and mother to 2 dogs and 1 baby. Erica also happens to be a contributing author of our book, THE REBEL MAMA’S HANDBOOK FOR (COOL) MOMS. Check out her blog and keep up with her on Instagram.

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Lisa Taylor and Whiskey, 1976
Photo Chris Von Wangenheim for Vogue

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