Posted on | July 30, 2013 | 5 Comments
Before I had J, my dog AJ was my baby.
He went everywhere with me from the time he was a just a tiny pup: to class at UNC, to any and every vacation, to all the various places I lived. If AJ wasn’t welcome, I didn’t go. At Christmas, he had a stocking and it was stuffed to the brim with goodies. For his birthday, he got “ice cream” and more presents. “Family outings” were made to Pet Smart where I’d let him pick out his own toys and treats. We took long walks and he slept curled up next to me at night.
I was a dog person.
The thing is, though, when you have a child all of that changes.
Your sweet and precious dog is still very sweet and very precious… but he is a dog: a furry being who is well loved but who is not quite as child-like as you once imagined. The people around you who haven’t had children yet find it appalling… You don’t cancel plans because your dog threw up? You don’t refuse to go on vacation because you can’t take your pet? You SAY you care for your pets but ohmigod your life doesn’t revolve around those sweet furry beings?
No, it doesn’t. Not anymore.
Because once you have kids, your life revolves around the non-furry being who has your eyes and who looks up at you in just that way that makes you think you might die from complete and total adoration of something outside of yourself that is still, inexplicably, part of you.
A dog just isn’t the same.
Before J, I would have punched you in the throat if you’d told me that having a child would change the way I felt about my dog. I would have told you that there is absolutely 100% no way possible that how I felt about my dog would ever be changed by “another” child. Only it did… it totally did. Because it’s impossible to see a dog as a child when you have a child. A dog is a dog. It is sweet and tender and dear and you will love it completely and totally for the time that you have it to love… but it is not a child.
Now when I go on vacation, I board my dogs. They play in the backyard and I don’t get out to play with them as much as I’d like to. They are well fed and well cared for and properly vaccinated and flea protected and everything else I can do to keep them safe and “law abiding.” But they aren’t coddled as much as they might have been, were it not for J.
I do feel bad about it sometimes, when a dog person challenges why I have dogs or makes a comment that I don’t spend enough time with them. I wonder if there is a way to split my time up even further and include more time with the sweet dogs I love dearly. But ultimately, my time is cut up enough already and I do the best I can with what I’ve got. And finally I’ll stop beating myself up about the fact that the way I love my dogs changed because of the way I love my child.
Because it’s my reality and I’m okay with it… and that’s probably something that dog lovers without kids will never understand.