Parenting and Pets

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With my brother’s dog on a road trip home from Oregon!

My wife and I often say that the hardest part of parenting is our pets. I’m not sure if this is unique to us, so I thought I’d put it out there and see how other people feel.

Let me start by saying that we are animal people. We have two dogs, but we both love all dogs and most other animals. Our dogs have always been included in every aspect of our lives, from hikes to trips to just lounging on the sofa. We have always bought them nice, comfy beds, toys, collars, and other accessories.image2(5).JPG

When we initially brought home the baby, our younger dog was positive we had brought her a prairie dog with its very own cage for our bedroom (crib). She was THRILLED and we panicked a little, researching high-priced, specialized trainers to help the dog understand she couldn’t eat the baby. It took her about 48 hours to realize it was a human, and then she kind of kept her distance. The older dog experienced a LOT of stress. He would hide in the closet when she cried, and he really started to keep to himself. I know he could sense my stress hormones with being a new parent, and this stressed him out too.

Cut to six months later and the baby loves the dogs and the dogs love the baby. They are at that really cute phase of sniffing her and she giggles when their whiskers tickle her or she reaches for them to touch their fur and they think she is scratching them. She lights up when one of them walks in the room. It’s cute.

Here’s the problem…as much as I love them both, the dogs have been driving me CRAZY for the last seven months. They have an uncanny ability to shake their heads and jingle their collars within 15 seconds of the baby falling asleep at least twice a day. The older one has really increased his bunny-chasing dreams, meaning he wakes us all up running and barking in his sleep in the middle of the night. The younger one steals pacifiers and delights in chewing the tip off and then tossing it around the house with glee. They also, both, for some reason now STAND exactly where I need to walk in the house, ALL. THE. TIME. Lastly, and this one isn’t really fair, but walking them has become SUCH a burden. I walk them morning and night between 20 and 60 minutes (sometimes even longer), and I usually have the baby strapped to me in the Lillebaby. In concept, it’s not such a big deal, but every afternoon it feels like such a chore. I used to enjoy the dog walk, but now I just daydream of strolling along with a sleeping baby and no dog insisting on sniffing EVERY BLADE OF GRASS or while the other dog is yanking and pulling toward the squirrel she saw cross the road 3,000 feet ahead of her. Alternatively, put the baby in the stroller and walk the dogs? No. The stroller wheels might touch their legs, because they persistently try to walk in front of the stroller on their leashes, and they jump 3 feet in the air like you’re clearly trying to murder them.

Maybe it’s just that we’re more tired, so we have less patience. Maybe the reduced attention is making them act out. Maybe I’ve just become bitchier with parenting. I feel terrible about it. I know that they are impacted, and they are coping in their own way, but sometimes they make me want to pull my hair out! I truly spend a LOT of time trying to remain calm, patient, and understanding with the dogs, because none of this change is their fault. I’m hopeful that this phase will pass and they will magically blend back into our daily routine and not feel like an additional burden on top of parenting a young child.

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6 responses

  1. Ayye, I could have written this exact post, except about our cats. It probably doesn’t help that we moved them across the country *and* had a baby, but boy-yo. One has taken to yowling during the day – but only when the baby is asleep in her crib. Thankfully she’s not (yet) waking the baby up with her antics, but it sets my teeth on edge. This same cat has also decided that 4-5am is a good time to cry for food and has picked up a handful of other, really annoying behaviors since the move.
    It’s hard because on the one hand, I recognize that the cat needs more attention and there are probably ways we could work with her to improve her behavior. On the other hand, I have neither the time nor the energy, so I end up tossing her in the bathroom in the middle of the night when she starts yowling because sleep is way more important. So. :/
    I, too, am hopeful this will pass.

  2. I could have written every word of this. Solidarity. It is hard. I really try to make it up to them when I can. I think part of the reason they’re constantly under foot is just that they want to be near us and they don’t know how to accomplish that without being in the way. We finally put a big dog bed in the kitchen so that they can lie in the bed when we’re working in there and not be between us and the sink or the stove, but that usually means that one of them is in the bed and the other is at our feet. Our boy, Rolo, has taken to whining. He will just sit there and whine. We try everything to shut him up. He has food. He has water. He’s had a treat. He has a doggie door, so he can go in and out as he pleases. We sit with him and pet him and love on him. He still just WHINES. So now he is constantly getting screamed at because we can’t take it anymore. And then I worry that Charlotte sees us screaming at him and she’ll think that’s okay. Which it’s not. BUT THE WHINING. OMG. And our girl dog steals food straight from the high chair the minute we turn our backs. I cannot count the number of times she has snatched Charlotte’s oatmeal bowl right off of the tray. Anyway, I have no advice, but know that you are not alone!

    • We have JUST started seeing the food thieving. Our daughter will just gnaw on an apple slice or pizza crust for awhile. But I’ve turned around to see the dog munching on the snack, and I don’t know if she’s taking it from the baby, or if the baby has dropped it. I’m going to have to keep a closer eye on them!

  3. Oh my god it is so good to hear that others experience this…. I was starting to worry that the animal lover in me had died and that I was going to inadvertently raise my daughter to hate animals and swear at them and threaten to find them new homes…. I LOVE animals. My cat, Anna, has been my baby for 13 years. She was my whole world. Then the baby came and she was chopped liver (I swore I wouldn’t be like that – that my cat would still be my #1 when the baby arrived… Boy was I wrong). Then we got the kitten and he is a menace. Always waking her up as soon as I’ve gotten her to sleep after an hour of trying. But if I didn’t have a baby I’d love his kitten antics. I never before would have threatened to make my cats into street cats. I feel sad about my lack of patience with them and I really, really hope that comes back as my baby grows up. She needs to see patience and kindness toward animals (no matter how annoying they are).

    • hahaha, street cats. My wife and I will often send joking texts to each other, “I sold the dogs” or “I let the dogs out to take themselves for a walk and they didn’t come home.” We love them, truly, but the humor helps alleviate the frustration momentarily…

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