Dogs and Babies, Babies and Dogs

Posted on | February 25, 2010 | 3 Comments


Before we had J, Husband and I had our dog. Well, to be more exact, my dog. I was lucky enough to find him at a shelter in Chapel Hill during the summer of 1998. He was the only puppy in the cat room and the worker bee told me that he was pretty skittish and didn’t seem to be very socialized. I peered into the cage and all I saw was a pair of gigantic bat ears and two very large and very scared brown eyes. He was tiny… except for the ears. The bee opened the cage door and I reached in. He climbed out into my lap and buried his little head into my stomach.

It was love at first touch. He literally claimed me and every day that I came in to see him, he lit up like a Christmas tree. The workers told me he didn’t let anyone else hold him. I don’t know if that was true, but I liked to believe it. We were made for each other, me and this tiny little fur ball with the abnormally large ears.

I was a student at Chapel Hill and he was my constant companion. I took him to campus with me, I took him home to visit my parents… I took him everywhere he was allowed to go. And when we were home, we were usually snuggled up together or playing his favorite game of “throw the ball and I’ll go get it but won’t bring it back but please come and try and take it from me.” I loved him so much it hurt my stomach. Seriously. I would think about the (insert non Lent word here) jerk who abused him as a puppy and it would make me want to curl up in a ball and sob until I ran out of tears. How could anyone hurt this adorable face?

Through college and all my moves thereafter my dog was the constant in my life. Especially in the pre-Husband years. He had a lot of health problems for a while and there was a time about seven years ago that we weren’t sure he was going to make it. He’s a fighter though, and has lived through an escape on I-95 post car accident, some type of seizure event in Richmond, bladder stones and a subsequent surgery here in Macon, and now… Babygate.

I got really peeved with people who told me that having J would change my love for my dog. Obviously they didn’t understand the bond we have. I mean, when I get sick, he throws up. Seriously. He used to throw up once a month just before I got my period. When I was pregnant, he put on sympathy weight. He is my dog.

But here’s the thing. Having a baby *does* change the relationship. I never thought it would. I couldn’t imagine ever loving ANYONE the way I love my dog. But then J was born and everything turned upside down. It’s not that I don’t love my dog anymore… because I’d still cut you if you tried to hurt him… it’s just that… I don’t know. I guess he can take care of himself a little better than J can. I can’t explain it. I can’t say that I don’t feel the same as I always did about my dog; I just feel different than I ever thought I would about J.

Nothing prepared me for how intensely I love my son. Or how terrifying it is to love someone that much. Don’t get me wrong. I love Husband dearly and would fall to pieces if something ever took him away. But I would kill someone over J. And I’m not joking. I’ve never loved anyone so ferociously and it’s frightening. That’s my whole life, you know? That little munchkin in the “Tough Guys Need Sleep Too” pajamas. And he’s no longer safely tucked inside… he’s out there for the whole world to take a shot at. There will be kids who will make fun of him. There will be people who don’t like him. God help me, there will be girls (or guys) who will break his heart. And I can’t keep him safe from any of that. *sigh* How am I going to survive this whole parenting thing? He’s six months old and I’m already so scared of what the world can do to him.

I thought I understood all I could understand about loving something small and semi-helpless when I adopted a dog. I was so very, very wrong. I love my dog. I love him with every part of me. But I *love* my son. And it’s just different. Not better, just different. But to all the people who said I’d make my little guy an outside dog when the baby came… SUCK IT. He sleeps with me and J in the nursery and he’s been so good and tolerant of all the changes in his life. I think deep down he even loves J a little bit, although just like any big brother, he’d prefer it if he had remained an only child.

So I guess what I’m saying, after too many glasses of wine and a snuggle fest with the dog, is that having a baby will not change your love for your dog. It will just make it all the more apparent how much you love your child.


3 Responses to “Dogs and Babies, Babies and Dogs”

  1. Ms. Diva
    February 25th, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    I hear ya! However then cute little babies (even if they don't sleep and drive you batty) turn into the most horrifing thing on the planet – a teenager and your dog gets to go to Petsmart to pick out his birthday present while your teenager just wants cash and to hang with his friends!

  2. Caitlin
    February 25th, 2010 @ 8:30 pm

    OMG. I love this post. And I miss AJ!

  3. parentinginprogress
    February 27th, 2010 @ 3:11 am

    I had a lot of the same feelings about Gilbert when I was pregnant with Piper and after. She's 14 months old now, and it's even better now than it was when she was 6 months. She's a lot sturdier? So that helps them interact more. And she LOVES him, always has. Before she was mobile he would come over and sniff her face and snuffle her (that like, huffing half sneezey thing) and she would open her mouth (i know…) and laugh and laugh. Anytime he would come in from outside he would go through the whole house until he found her, he always needed to know where she was.

    Now, at 14 months I ask her where her puppy is in the mornings and she tears across the house to his crate to say and wave "Hi!" and we all go outside together before breakfast… and we let him outside when we come home after "School". She laughs whenever they're together and is so gentle when she pets him… adorable.

    If she's sick or is fussy and we're not handling it quickly enough for him, he whines and gets upset and comes to look at us like "what's wrong with my baby?"

    They have their own little relationship now, and I love that they give that gift to each other.

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