Lately, we’ve been referring to our dog as our firstborn. Shameful, right? Our dog, as wonderful as he is, changed everything as soon as he came home with us one weekend earlier than expected, when the desperate puppy-mama called us and said, “Can you take him now? Please?”
It was like having a baby, without that whole conception and birth process. As soon as he came home, we were staging our work schedules to make sure he didn’t stay alone for too long, we hired a dog-walker to come once in the middle of the day, and asked friends to come over and watch him. He was awake every two hours every night, when my wife would get up with him, perch him on her shoulder, and take him downstairs and out the front door. No one got any sleep. He had vet bills. Lots of vet bills… despite pet insurance. We could no longer go out with friends on Friday nights, and we spent night after night in the darkening dog park, lantern in hand, trying to wear him out with other puppies. The inside of our townhouse was a gated community – with baby gates blocking the kitchen, and more gates blocking access to the upstairs. No one could nap on the couch anymore on Sunday afternoons, as he would surely pounce your head, take your pillow, and dissect it in front of you.
We’ve made remarkable progress in two and a half years. We’ve just now been able to leave pillows out willy-nilly without a serious threat of dissection. We’re down to one baby gate, since he has an insatiable need to be around cat food and litter. He stays at home all day long, without the need for a midday walk or a sitter. He still bosses us out of bed in the morning before we’re ever ready, and he’s the reason we have to get home after work at a reasonable time, squashing any lengthy post-work errands. We have a window of time between when we leave in the morning and when we get home in the evening – if it doesn’t fit in that window, it doesn’t get done. Our life of being accountable to no one but ourselves stopped, and our previous streak of spontaneity ceased to exist.
When I think about having a baby just a few months from now, it’s daunting, of course, on so many levels. But on other levels, it feels like adding one more variable to the mix of things that either keep us home, or enrich our time and experiences when we’re not at home. Things will change, but things change with us on a cyclical basis anyhow – I don’t think we’ve done the same thing, in the same place, the same way for more than two years at a time. Our dog, strange as it may be, has set a foundation for Vegas to come into this world, and hit the ground running (crawling?) in our family. The dog has recently been promoted Lieutenant of the Fun Police, so I’m sure he will be excited to have a new recruit.