Husband? What Husband?

My dog Sadie has cancer. My husband is sick, too, but his symptoms are less dramatic, and I barely notice him. It’s all about the dog. I suspect that’s how I’d be with children.
Perhaps my husband, Fred, was wise not to make babies with me. He was married before and experienced what it’s like to live with a woman who was obsessed with her children. Maybe that’s why he ran out and got a vasectomy after that last surprise pregnancy. He knew the mommy gene would take over again and he’d be toast.
During the night, I listen to Sadie breathing. Is she panting? Did she moan? Does she need to go out? I hear every time she shifts positions, her nails clacking on the walls or the floor. I feel her settle at the foot of the bed, pulling half the blanket down. I notice my husband trying to get some covers. Rather than help him, I just scooch down lower and go back to sleep.
First thing in the morning, I hurry out of bed to make Sadie’s breakfast, carefully inserting her morning pills, leaving the husband to fill his own cereal bowl. I bake boneless, skinless chicken breasts for the dog, but do you think I’d offer to whip up some waffles for the spouse? Not likely.
“We’re out of milk,” the husband calls.
“Should have told me before I went to the store,” I reply. I don’t leave the dog or even look away from her. Milk, schmilk, the dog needs me.
Sadie spends most of her nights and early mornings lying on my bathroom floor. This morning I took my bath with her still there, leaving the door open and my clothes in the other room, doing my darndest not to drip water on her. God forbid I disturb her sleep. If it were Fred, I’d probably have told him, “Get out of here. I need to take a bath.”
As I chatter all day long, my husband often asks, “Are you talking to me?”
“No, I’m talking to the dog,” I reply in a tone that implies he’s an idiot.
I’m constantly asking, “Where’s Sadie?” I offer her food and water. If she won’t come to her bowl, I bring the bowl to her. I worry over every bite, every pill, every bathroom trip. I pet her and tell her I love her a hundred times a day.
And the husband? He’s on his own. I look over and comment, “Your hair looks funny” or “There’s a stain on your pants.” Do I rush to fix his hair or to find him clean pants? No.
When Sadie opens her eyes, I greet her like the Second Coming. Just now, I heard her coming down the hall. I left the computer to follow her out the door, applauding as she squatted on the grass. “Good pee!” I called. I gave her a treat, then hurried to present her bowl. I barely restrained myself from shoving my coffee-pouring husband out of the way so I could get to the dog food.
I watched every bite she ate, chanting, “Good girl, good girl!” until she had finished eating and settled on the living room rug. I left the husband to eat his healthy cereal and read his book alone. No “Good boy!” for him.
In fact, come to think of it, I have neither wished him a good morning nor touched him lovingly. If I had had children, God help my husband. I mean, look at how I am with the dog? How could he ever compete with a little person who grew inside me?
I recently read about women in Japan who dress their little dogs in tiny cashmere sweaters from the Fifi and Romeo dog boutique and push them around in baby buggies. They’re too busy for husbands and kids, they said.
At least I feel guilty about neglecting my husband. But the dog has cancer. That trumps the sniffles every time. So I’ll kiss the husband on the head and hunker down on the floor with Sadie. Fred will get his turn later.

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