Before I had Nellie I proudly was a “dog mom”. They were my two furry children and I thought of their needs, issues and quirks first and foremost. I mean, Stella is the most high needs dog I’ve ever met, and if I wasn’t fretting about one of her issues, I was fretting about the other 6,000 of them. I worked to make sure they got enough walks, ate the right food, were emotionally stimulated, loved, bathed, and generally was a classic kidless dog owner. Adam revoked my right to pickup the dog’s food because I was incapable of leaving the pet store without at least $50 extra in goodies for the dogs.
When I got pregnant I swore to myself, to my friends, to the world that nothing would change. I’d love my furry children and my daughter the same.
Ha. I’m adorable.
After Nellie was born, it’s like a switch was flipped in my brain. In the really early days of having a newborn, I couldn’t even tell you when the last time my dogs ate was. My lizard brain had been activated and all I needed to do was keep my baby alive, fed, and happy. I didn’t have the emotional or mental stamina to worry about if my dogs had been getting walks, or if they felt neglected, hell, I didn’t have time to even make sure they’d gotten their medication. All the care for the dogs immediately shifted to Adam. Our roles were defined. I would keep the baby alive, and he would keep the dogs alive.
I remember vividly in the early days Adam asking me if I even loved our dogs anymore. Honestly, I paused. I hardly had thought of them let alone wondered if I still loved them.
My dogs have never been easy dogs. Oly is a nutcase and has always required extra attention, focus and training to maintain a semi decent level of good behavior. And then there’s Stella. My medical mystery shit storm of a dog. Between the anxiety, the incontinence, fear of tile/hardwood flooring, the diabetes and the blindness in one eye, she’s simply too much to handle most days. Right after we had Nellie Stella was requiring 4 different eye drops, three times a day for an eye she couldn’t even see out of. When you have a newborn to care for, having a dog that requires as much attention as a new baby is downright miserable. I often found myself wishing I could go back in time and never adopt her. Why in the world did I ever think I needed a second dog anyway? I dreamed of the day she’d pass away and we’d no longer have to talk about all her medications, her issues, her mounting anxiety issues. I’d lay in bed at night wondering why I was such a terrible person that I wished my dog was dead.
Nellie is 9 months old now, she sleeps through the night, is pretty darn easy to be around, and she loves the dogs and they love her, but it’s still not as it was. I still have nothing to do with feeding or medicating the dogs anymore, that role continues to be Adam’s. The dogs are fat, under walked, and frankly, under loved. Oly doesn’t receive the snuggles, pets and after work fetching she once did, and we never renewed our pass to the local dog park – a place we once frequented multiple times a week. Every once in a while the guilt gets to me and I buy Oly a new chew toy, and we try to take at least one long walk on the weekend, but things have changed. I’ve changed.
There was a time when they were my babies. And now, they’re just dogs.
They’ll be in my life until their final days, and I’ll continue to love and care for them the best I can, but I know they’ll never be my top priority ever again. I hope they know I still love them, and appreciate their willingness to embrace the tiny loud person who joined our family and made them second best.