Tanya Enberg: Unexpected Mother

Jun
28
2013

And Baby Makes Four

WHEN THE FAMILY DOG IS NO LONGER THE BABY

Let me start by saying I love our dog.

Her name is Maggie and she’s a sweet rescue from the Humane Society. She has been in my life for seven years and, other than her seriously stinky breath, she is truly lovely.

But lately my mind has been elsewhere.

And by lately, I mean the past year.

Motherhood has snapped my focus directly to the tiny creature who, at any given moment, could be putting random things in his mouth, grabbing hold of any household object within reach and leaning against absolutely everything so he can pop his wobbly legs up into standing position.

Thing is, babies are curious little things. They are hell-bent on finding unsafe things to play with and enjoy putting their very survival at risk. Perhaps they are thrill seekers who thrive on living on the edge, but one thing is certain, their caregivers do not.

Here is where I say ‘the poor dog.’

She no longer gets the attention she’s accustomed to. Indeed she has put up with a lot since we brought Baby B home.

He is impressively gentle with her but has somehow got it into his head that she wants to be chased (she does not). He also believes she wants to share her dog bed (in no way does she want this). And, finally, he is absolutely convinced that she doesn’t mind when he steals her favourite toy (she most certainly does).

Maggie gives him plenty of kisses, but she may in fact just be cleaning off the crumbs and food splatters he’s regularly coated in.

But the real point of all of this is my guilt.

See, pre-baby Maggie was my running buddy. Now I go to the gym because it offers daycare. My husband and I used to take her out for longer walks more frequently. These days it’s tough to squeeze it all in. 

One day I suspect Maggie and baby will be friends, but not for a long while yet. Our son is far too clumsy, unpredictable and much too loud for her tastes. 

While I know plenty of people who’ve cast aside their pups once baby arrives, Maggie is family. That said she is nervous, confused and often insecure. She no longer knows her place in the pack and that causes her a great deal of stress. 

So fellow parents and dog owners, how have you managed dog and baby?

Or maybe you too are riddled with guilt. Perhaps that’s just the reality, but if you have any tips, do share!