I’m not much of a dog person. I’ve always liked the idea of dogs and enjoyed them from afar, but the hair and slobber and aggressive crotch sniffing usually kept my enthusiasm at a respectable low. Then, clearly forgetting my opinion on the matter, my husband and I got an English Bulldog and named him Bruno.
We brought him home four years before we brought home our first baby, Lucy. He was such a naturally well-behaved dog and I fell madly in love with him. I wasn’t excited about the hair and slobber, but it was a part of having a pet and I didn’t mind it much. I spoiled him. He laid in my lap every morning and every evening. We played. We walked. I taught him how to kiss before I taught him how to sit. During a few difficult patches in my life, he comforted me with affection.
As a person who isn’t all that into dogs, I was really into this one. He was my baby. Still is. Sorta.
Then I became pregnant. People joked that Bruno would get the emotional boot once my baby was born, but I laughed it off, they didn’t understand our bond and my love for him. Instinctively, he was drawn to my growing baby belly, or maybe he figured it out when he kept getting kicked in the face by a baby in utero while we cuddled.
Then I delivered my baby and when I came home from the hospital, it was as if someone handed me a new pair of eyeballs. I saw everything differently, good and bad.
I immediately zeroed in on the dog hair. I mean, I saw it before and we kept a clean home, but suddenly it was everywhere, like a warm, stinky blanket covering our home and pants. Then his slobber, splattered on the wall after he drank water and shook his head. Smeared and dried on our leather couch, and after our greeting, my shins. He barked and now it seemed loud and earth shaking, perfect for waking up sleepy babies. And his nails! Were they even trimmed? They looked like sharp sticks ready to scrape precious newborn skin. Why did his feet smell like Fritos!?
Yes. My new eyeballs were definitely seeing things differently and I felt the need to protect my newborn baby from it all. And I felt guilty about that. Sometimes.
As the baby was lying asleep on my lap, he tried to get his 70 pound body on my lap too. I had to push him off and he didn’t understand why. It made me sad to reject him, but he was also really pissing me off. So he kept trying and I kept getting annoyed and finally I yelled at my husband to get him away from me and the baby!
My husband said, “I guess those people were right, he is getting the boot.” Then I gave my husband the boot and told everybody to get the hell out! But come back and help because caring for a newborn is hard!
I, um, guess new motherhood has a way of fraying the nerves.
I remember after a crying spell (the baby, not me), I was finally able to put her down in her bassinet. Unfortunately, someone had the audacity to shut their car door outside, sending Bruno into an outraged barking frenzy. “Protecting our home” certainly wasn’t a new behavior, but now it was the worst thing to ever happen to me.
I used to say to him, “Thank you my little protector, Mommy loves you!” Now I’m saying, “Oh my god, it’s a car door you lunatic! If you wake the baby up, I’m going to … oh great, you woke the baby up! AHHHHHH!”
In retrospect, it might have been my yelling that woke the baby up. Whatever, you get the point.
Ok, wait. Uh oh. I have a feeling you’re probably trying to click out of this article like I change channels on animal rescue commercials. I promise, he’s loved! He gets lots of attention! Especially by my husband who makes it a point to run and play with him as much as possible.
It’s just that, as my mom mentioned to me when I was lamenting about my guilt, Bruno was suddenly realizing he was a pet for the first time and not my actual baby. He needed time to adjust.
But it was still a hard adjustment on him and it made me sad. My lap was hardly ever available and I kept yelling at him to leave all the new bright, colorful toys alone. (As an aside, whoever thought making dog toys and baby toys look and sound exactly alike is on my shit list.) I could tell he felt second fiddle to the new pink puppy and his eyes were begging me to give Lucy to a new forever home so things could be like they used to be. But the pink puppy was in her forever home and actually a human that will grow into a toddler who will try to boss him around and put blocks on him while he’s sleeping. Basically, things are going to get worse for Bruno, but I won’t dare tell him.
Nothing throws a wrench in a smooth movin’ life quite like a baby. They force everyone to compromise, even my previously pampered pup. We have to create a new normal, where Mommy’s lap isn’t a free for all, at least not right now, but she’s more than happy to pet him with her foot while she feeds the baby. It’s called multi-loving. Ok, maybe my compromises need some work, but we’re making progress.
We love our pets, particularly dogs, because they love us and demonstrate their love every day. They don’t care if we’re eating ice cream at midnight, they just care we’re not sharing. Thirty new pounds or a pimple, we’re the best thing they’ve ever seen.They listen to our woes without judgment. If the world is against us, they will sit by us. All we have to do is pet them a little. They just want to be with us, to love and be loved. So simple.
They also want to lick the baby a little too much, destroy some expensive toys, and accidentally get a little poop in the house, but Bruno says he would prefer we overlook those silly details. He may feel like chopped liver, but he’s our beloved baby that may need to feel like a pet for a little while.
The new pink puppy is growing and soon she’ll be his best friend, he just doesn’t know it yet. Yes, she’ll annoy the crap out of him, but she will drop so much food! Oh, if he only knew. His best days are yet to come.More On