Friday, January 30, 2015

Dogs + dreams

Before I had my first baby, and my second baby, there was another baby.

A fur baby.


She kept me company.
She rode in a pink stroller.
She was my kid-in-training.
She was my snuggle buddy (even when my preggo body nearly crushed her)
She walked me to the bathroom again and again when I was ready to burst.
She helped me walk my baby out.

What? It's not normal to sew your dog a naughty schoolgirl costume?

Things went wrong shortly after D was born. Lola's jealousy became a huge problem. We'd always had issues with her barking, destroying, ripping up carpet, and peeing and pooping all over the place, but they got out of control. Every time we left the condo, she barked until the point of losing her voice. There were threatening phone calls from neighbours, from the condo board. We couldn't sell the condo. We were trapped.

Happier times in her stroller

She started growling at us. Snapping. For such a little thing, her jaw strength was terrifying. On one dark afternoon, she bit my hand while I was holding baby D. I put her in her kennel, and called my sister -- sobbing -- for her to come over and just take her. JUST TAKE HER. I CAN'T.

Don't worry, this story doesn't end all Old Yeller-like. My sister's boyfriend's parents used to have a Miniature Dachshund, so they understood their troubles with excessive barking and separation anxiety. They lived in a big house surrounded by trees. They could take her everywhere with them. They could give her the home we couldn't.

So they did.

Our little hot dog

***

We took a lot of flak for our decision. Jokes about "trading up" for a baby. It killed me to hear it.

Yes, there are plenty of people who Kijiji or Craigslist their pets because it's not convenient, or they're moving and don't want to bring them along.

But there are also people who love their pets desperately -- who whisper in their floppy ears and sing them songs and sew them clothes -- and still have to re-home them. People who think they are doing what's best for their (human) baby, and are then haunted with their decision.

It's painful to talk about her, and it was more than four years ago.

Pregnancy announcement photo from 2009, when we were expecting D

***

Time moved on, D grew older, we finally (finally!) sold that blasted condo, and we moved to our House of Dreams in the country. We welcomed baby C.

All around us, families had dogs. We did not. I wanted one, of course, but I was (A) entirely convinced we couldn't handle one, with two tiny children, and (B) terrified of going through the same experience again.

I couldn't fathom picking up poop again with a baby strapped to my chest, or struggling down the sidewalk with a baby, a two-year-old, and a leash. I couldn't handle another responsibility. I just couldn't.

I wrote about sewing her Halloween costumes for The Daily News in 2007.

I've been a huge dog person since I was eight years old. When we got to choose our own assignments for projects, I used to do mine on the different breeds of dogs and how to take care of them. My dad and stepmother got a beautiful black and white Cocker Spaniel, and I was obsessed with him.

Darling Husband had never owned a dog until Little Dog, and he loved her just as much as me. He was confident that we could have another dog -- that it would be good for the kids -- but I shut down the idea.

No. No. Not again. What if ...?

My short-lived attempt at bangs ... and my snuggly, slippery little weanus (which I called her to horrify my sister)

***

I have seen her several times, and it's clear she is very happy. She is even more spoiled than she was with us (pre-baby) if that's possible. Her new owners have gotten kicked out of many stores because they insist on bringing her absolutely everywhere, which she adores.

Each time, she has leapt into my arms and smothered me with kisses. It makes me happy that she remembers our time together so fondly. It also hurts, because I miss her. I miss her so much.

We were photographed for the cover of Homes in 2008.
***

Somewhere in the shift of the kids getting older -- and our lives getting a little easier -- the ice around the doggie-part of my heart started to melt. There weren't any more diapers to change, there were far fewer bum-wipings in the run of a day. Maybe, yes. It was starting to look like more of a possibility.

Darling Husband has been pushing hard for a dog. He tells me how much the kids would love it (they would). He points out that we finally have a yard, and we don't have neighbours on all sides of us like at the condo (true). He adds that since I work from home, the dog would hardly ever be here alone (also true).

I haven't fully come around to the idea yet, but it's working its way into my mind ... into my heart.

Pictures like this are certainly helping to speed things along ...


Seeing the adorableness that is Naptime with Theo & Beau is enough to make me want to rush out and adopt the first dog I can find. I've been a fan of Jessica's sweet pictures for ages now, and she's put them together in a new book (available for preorder now -- with a special offer for a free bookplate).

I want D and C to grow up knowing the love of a dog. I want them to have a dog to care for, and snuggle with, and confide in.

I don't know when our family will take the plunge and get a dog. I don't know when my heart will fully heal.

But there are so many nights when I sit on the couch and can almost feel our future dog snuggled up in my lap. Afternoons when I long for them to be cuddled at my feet, under my desk. Not to mention the fun the kids would have playing with them in the backyard.

A dog for us is in the cards. I know that much.

Now it's just a matter of waiting for the right moment, the right one ...

... and hoping I can love them as much as I loved her.


xoxo

2 comments:

Janet Nielsen said...

Aww Heather I can relate to much of this. We didn't have to get rid of our fur baby when the kids came like you did but boy did things change for her. She died a little over a year ago. People ask me all the time if we'll get another dog. I'm still at the can't-imagine-the-added-responsibility stage (it was HARD having babies and a high-maintenance dog at the same time!) but I'm hopeful that in a year or two I'll start feeling the way you do and we can begin thinking about it. Keep us posted :)

Amy said...

I can only imagine how hard this must have been for you! I haven't been in that situation but I feel I would have done the exact same thing. I really hope this works out for your family. Watching dogs and kids hanging out together is just magic.