Like many pet owners, my husband and I could be accused of doting on our dogs. For most of the ten years that we’ve had “the kids,” I’ve never really worried about such accusations. But now we’re at that point in our lives (mid-30s) where it’s time to decide if we’re going to stick exclusively with furry kids or introduce the human variety to the pack. Is there room in our hearts and home for a non-canine dependant?
That, I have to admit, is one of many things that really gives me pause about having a baby. I worry that a baby would take attention away from our furry kids and that they would get relegated to the sidelines. That may sound a bit odd, but I reason the dogs were here first and have loved us (mostly unconditionally) longer, so shouldn’t they only naturally get top billing? I know many blended families that have successfully incorporated human kiddos into their canine pack without major fanfare. But some dogs are easier going than others. Ours, not so much.
LuLu, our Chocolate Lab, has ruled the household ever since she came bounding into our hearts as a chubby, adorable, exuberant puppy. She had the most enormous feet of any puppy I had ever seen. Everyone joked that if she grew into those feet, we were going to be in big trouble. Well, she did, and she’s now a solid one hundred pounds of willful, wily, unwieldiness. Despite her ginormousness, she’s also very girly and can be imperious – in short, she’s quite the princess. Consequently, she has Eric wrapped around her finger. And though she often drives me crazy, she can melt my heart in 2 seconds flat when she comes over and puts her head in my lap and gives me her best worried brow look. Those eyebrows of hers are a highly effective weapon. The brows are her ace in the hole and she well knows it. (They've gotten her out of hot water with me more than once.)
When it became apparent that she was going to be high maintenance, we decided to get LuLu a friend. We figured she needed to learn to share the spot light lest she be spoiled by our fawning adoration. Also, we hoped she would enjoy some company and that having another dog around to play with would help wear off some of her endless supply of energy. We adopted Jack, sight unseen, from a co-worker of Eric’s. The whole sight-unseen part worked to his advantage. Not that it would have changed my mind about taking him, but Jack was quite possibly the ugliest puppy I had ever seen. He gave new meaning to the old saying, “a face only a mother could love.” He was and still is a funny looking little dude. As best as we can tell, he’s part Boston Terrier, part Chinese Pug. While he may be homely, he’s usually on his best behavior (unlike the other two) and he follows me like a shadow. Wherever I go, he goes.
Harry came to us after the hurricane. (Ivan- not Katrina. There were other hurricanes, you know.) Although our home was spared any major damage, the months of living with the aftermath and debris were tough. I got in the habit of taking long walks in the ‘hood to help relieve stress. One night while out walking, a cute but goofy looking Beagle mutt toddled up to me. I stopped to give him a pet and say hello and then re-commenced my stroll. I had gone a few blocks before I realized the Beagle was following me. So I stopped again and my heart sank when I noticed he didn’t have tags and, on closer inspection, looked dirty, tired, and hungry. I decided to keep walking and see if he would continue to follow me. He did, all the way through the front door of our home and into our family. To make a long story short, Harry came to us with a bad case of heart worms and several cracked ribs. He’s very reticent, tends to cower, and can be melancholy and mopey. We’re not sure if that’s just his personality (he seems to have some Basset Hound in him) or the result of prior abuse or neglect. He’s no shrinking violet, though. He’s stubborn as a mule and will deliberately try you just to get a reaction. I call him Harry-Harry-Quite-Contrary. We’ve just learned to accommodate his idiosyncrasies and love him despite his orneriness. Some days, we even think he loves us back. *Our beloved Harry went to doggie heaven on February 21, 2012. He took a piece of our hearts with him and we miss him dearly.
So I’m told by Moms who know that you love your human children unconditionally as well, no matter their foibles and quirks, and that there is room in your heart for all your kiddos, both canine and human. That makes sense, I guess. I just don’t know if there’s enough room in the pups’ hearts for a baby. They already have to share the couch with us and seem none too pleased. Besides, I can just see LuLu’s big ass crawling in the Pack-n-Play and smooshing it to smithereens. And Jack hates baby cries. We learned this when he tweaked out and yapped all evening when friends came over for dinner and brought their infant. That would get old in a hurry. At least Harry can be counted on to ignore the baby, just as he does everyone else.
Despite the medical profession’s irritating proclivity toward treating expectant Moms over 34 years of age as freaks of nature to be closely monitored as “high-risk” patients, I think we’ll wait awhile until we figure out our family dynamics.
Or maybe we'll skip the baby and just get a cat. I wonder if introducing a kitty into the pack would be harder or easier than a baby?
My boss gave my dogs these homemade treats as a Christmas gift from her furry kids, Will and Canela. The pups loved the biscuits and since she passed along the recipe as well, I’ll be making them quite frequently. They’re super simple to make and much cheaper and more nutritious than that nasty fake dog bacon sold in stores. I used organic flour and stock and natural peanut butter. Obviously, you can use whatever you have on hand. Jiff can't possibly be as bad as the waste grade ingredients found in most store bought dog treats so you'll still be doing your pup a favor.
1 c natural peanut butter (no added sugar)
1 ½ c all-purpose, unbleached flour
¾ c organic chicken broth
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit with a rack centered in the middle. Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl to form a dough. Knead the dough to ensure all ingredients are fully combined and then roll out to ½ inch thickness.
2. Cut out biscuits with a cookie cutter and place on baking sheets. Bake one sheet at a time for 20-25 minutes or until a light golden brown.