I love my dog. I really, really do. I just have to remind myself that I do. And, between us, I love the way things were with my dog before kids, because having a dog with a toddler and a baby isn’t ideal.
We rescued Howie from Anti-Cruelty Society a year after we were married, following the trend of couples not yet ready for kids. The wedding excitement was over, we bought our first condo in the city, so what’s next… How about a dog?!?! And we found Howie. Sweet, lovable, emotional, smart Howie. We treated him like a baby. We couldn’t help but pull him into our laps or snuggle with him. He was low maintenance and we had time for long walks, obedience classes, and monthly grooming appointments. He rarely barked, stayed nice and clean, and our friends all loved him. He sat on the couch with us and slept in bed with us. There is a reason you aren’t supposed to let your dogs do this, but life was good and we were a happy threesome.
Then came the kids and the suburbs and Howie became a pain… The walks are fewer, so we let him out in the yard, which has a lot of mud, which makes him dirty, which means he tracks dirt on the couch and on the bed. And we can’t groom or bathe him as often as he needs it, so his hair and nails get dirtier and he doesn’t smell as good, so I don’t want him on the couch or the bed. And I’m constantly pulled in different directions or holding someone or begging someone to do something or doing something to take care of someone and when I get those moments without being needed, I want to be left alone instead of petting a dog. And he’s become more territorial now that we have kids and a house to protect and he can actually see the ground through the window, so he barks more, which drives me crazy and wakes the baby, so we yell at him. And we don’t have time to train him or go back to the fundamentals we learned in obedience class, so we drag him around on his walks and yell at him to stop barking, jumping, begging. And he has a lot of energy, so misbehaves more often, because he prefers to take walks on a leash instead of running around the yard, because he’s a city dog at heart and the walks are fewer. It’s a vicious circle, you see?
It’s all our fault, not his. And it’s not his fault that we left the garbage out when we walked to the park and left him at home (barking at us from the window, might I add). But, when I came home to it ripped apart and spread all over the floor with a hungry baby and a melting-down toddler, fault didn’t really matter.