Like many newly married couples, my husband and I weren’t quite ready to have kids right after we tied the knot. But, we were making a home together, and as a woman in my reproductive prime at 25, I was desperate to have something cute and cuddly to take care of. I begged and begged my brand-new husband to let us get a dog, even though at the time we lived in a high-rise apartment with (obviously) no back yard. He resisted, but that guy loves animals so he eventually (albeit reluctantly) agreed.
We scoured the pound and found an adorable little black rescue dog, whom my hubby aptly named ‘Beans.’ It wasn’t too long before I declared that Beans needed a friend to keep her company while we were at work, and we were back at the pound, finding our next fur-baby. I took care of those two mangy mutts with such conscientiousness, they were like freaking canine royalty. Those fuzzballs enjoyed multiple walks a day, gourmet dog treats, and unlimited amounts of training, cuddling and praise.
And then the worst day of their short little doggy lives happened: The Day The Baby Was Born. Oh, sure, people had warned me that it would be different for my dogs and me once the baby arrived. But I had worried more for the baby, thinking he might be allergic to dog hair or would be woken up by their barking. I had no idea how my own relationship with the dogs themselves would change.
Oh, my poor, poor fur babies. Once our beautiful son crashed into our lives, things went south fast for those dogs. It’s not that I instantly began neglecting my animals—they still enjoy a cozy bed and we buy the good dog food (apparently even DOGS are gluten-free now?!), but their lives are hugely different now that our kids run freely throughout our house.
Gone are the peaceful, twice-daily walks with Cesar Milan-wannabe training, instead replaced with a twice-monthly hectic shuffle, peppered with curses from mommy to get everyone ready, leashes on, and out the door. And as soon as I get the baby in the Ergo, the toddler on his tricycle and remember those oh-so-important little doggie bags, we usually only last a few minutes in the neighborhood before somebody has to pee or the baby needs a snack. I see the sad looks in my dog’s eyes as I herd my brood back inside when they were just getting into the swing of their walk.
And don’t get me started on how my kids try to show “love” to our animals. Yes, yes, I’m teaching them the meaning of the word “gentle,” but the pups often get caught in the crossfire of raising two small boys; “petting” them sometimes looks a little too much like “swatting,” their food is sometimes scattered throughout the house and then cleverly inserted into various nooks and crannies as a “fun game,” and the volume and boisterousness of an all-boy (except for Mommy) house is enough to drive them to seek solace in the quietest recesses of my bedroom. They look at me with such resentment, as if I tricked them into trusting us and then brought two evil terrorizers in to make their lives a living, plastic toy-filled hell.
Oh dear animals, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I don’t have the time or energy to give you the lavish attention you once enjoyed with me.
I’m sorry you’re forced to deal with my rambunctious boys instead of living out the remainders of your lives in comfortable retirement with an elderly (and quietly child-free) couple.
I’m sorry that now instead of frequenting online doggy forums, searching for tips and tricks on training and dog-whispering, I now spend time seeking and giving advice on the mommy forums, and hardly give your habits a second thought.
I’m sorry that while at one time in my heart there was a whole lot of affection and love for you, the birth of my children has pushed you a bit farther down the ladder of priorities.
But it’s not all bad, right, dear canines? I mean, yes, you may be lacking in the attention area as your owner is a busy parent with never enough time for anything, and is forced to choose between washed hair and a half-cup of hot coffee, but come on, you enjoy extra playtime with some pretty adorable boys, whose true (yet clumsy) love for you more than makes up for the absence of my own. And after all, the way to a dog’s heart is through tasty food, right? So, pretty pooches, don’t forget the plethora of discarded high-chair fare that makes it into your bellies three times a day, and please accept this as my ongoing, if not meager, secondhand offering of the life you’ve always dreamed of.