This morning, as usual, I tiptoe to the kitchen, trying not to disturb my dog Annie as I take my pills and pour my orange juice. She sleeps in the laundry room, which has a doggy door to back yard. As soon as she hears me, she will stretch, jingle her tags, and come running to the sliding door in the kitchen, paws banging against the glass. The trick is to get myself organized before this happens, to grab a few minutes of peace for myself.
I open the door. She comes rushing in, gives me kisses and waits for me to serve her some Kibbles N Bits. But no. First, I escort her back outside, telling her to go potty. Obediently she squats on the grass to do No. 1, then races to the other side of the yard for No. 2. After sniffing the air and observing what’s happening beyond the fence, she sprints back to the house, where I let her in to eat.
While Annie eats, I crank up the pellet stove to warm the house. Annie joins me there, the orange light of the fire reflecting in her golden eyes. I hug and pet her and tell her once again how much I love her. After a while, she curls up on the pink blanket on the big chair by the window while I go to my office down the hall.
As I work, I’m ever alert to her actions. If she barks, I leave my desk to find out what’s wrong. If she comes wandering in, I give her a big hug and promise I’ll be free to play in a little while. If she snatches paper out of my recycle box, I’ll chase her around the house to try to get it back. Sometimes I succeed, but more often, she leaves shreds of paper all over the living room. And I smile because, compared to Annie, paper doesn’t matter.
Annie is a dog, but I raised her from 7 weeks old, when she only weighed eight pounds, the size of a healthy newborn human. Now 70 pounds and almost four years old, she’s still my baby, and most days, she’s enough.
Copyright 2011 Sue Fagalde Lick
2 thoughts on “Mothering my four-legged baby”
A few years ago, my partner and I tried to get pregnantwith IUI (same sex marriage). When it didn't work, money got tight, side effects piled up, we decided to take a break and get two puppies. Oof! Three years later, the loves of my life are our two boys, but they take a lot of work. One has some pretty major issues, and they really take a lot of time and care and money and energy. My relationship is not as good as it was, so now, even though I love my boys, and I’m older (36) but still able to try to have a child, I am at a crossroads. I never imagined. My marriage probably wouldn't survive a child, because parenting our boys has shown us how different we are, how much we clash. But I can't end the relationship, since we both are in love with and share the care of our dog boys. So, for the sake of my boys, and because I am the financial support of the family, I watch my remaining fertile years slip away. When my dogs are gone ( a grief I am terrified to face), I will be too old to have a child anymore. If I left to parent singly, which I have thought about, I’d be damaging the lives of my vulnerable dogs, and of my partner, who could not afford a house or car of her own.I love my dogs, so much that most people with kids think I’m a freak. But they are not and never will be a baby I bore. I still have bins of baby clothes in the basement from when we were so confident we'd get pregnant. I can't even look at them without getting sick to my stomach. My dogs are my boys, but it's still hard to convince myself sometimes that they're an even trade.Thank you, God bless you.
Anonymous June 27, thanks for sharing your story. Those puppies do take a lot of energy. I know mine did, and my husband and I had different parenting styles, too. And no, dogs are not the same as having human babies. It's a difficult situation with no choice that's going to make everybody happy. I hope you can find peace.