Hello, my name is Krista, and I have a BAD dog. I remember when I first became a puppy mamma, at the ripe wise age of… ahem… 20. At the time, the potential for human children was so far from my mind, it never occurred to me that one day I might have two-legged and four-legged creatures that needed to co-exist together.
First off, let’s talk about dog mommy shaming. We always talk about protecting moms from mom shaming. You know what? Honestly, I have yet to feel a tenth of the judgment from being a human mamma as I ever have from being a doggie mamma. No matter what my little tot does, everyone always seems to kindly reply: “It’s not your fault… It’s just who they are and the stage of life they are in.” They kindly give me a squeeze on the shoulder and say, “It’s OK.” But being a doggie mamma… No way! We are told again and again that “There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners.” Well I double dog dare you (excuse the corny pun)… Come over and train my dog who is as cute and fluffy as he is anxious and bad!
So apparently I am a bad doggie mamma… because ya know… there are no bad dogs. In fact, I am such a bad doggie mamma that I love my creatures until the end of time regardless of how insane they might make me. Well, this was how I felt when I was a singleton. When my dogs were my babies and my everything. I swore that would never change no matter what. Has it? Yes and no.
When I became pregnant I grew terrified of my bad dog predicament.
How am I going to do this? My dog (which I affectionately call Cray-Cray) yelps and nips my heels when I leave the house.
How will I get myself and a baby out the door? My once barely house-trained dogs were now geriatric and had severe trouble holding their bladders.
How do I keep my home sanitary for myself and baby? Cray Cray barks. Oh he barks.
How do I keep him from waking a baby? Cray Cray snaps.
What if he hurts her? I talked to my mom about what I once thought to be an impossible solution. If it came down to it, and my dog and the baby cannot live together, would she be willing to take him in?
We took measures to make it work. Diapers were strapped on the dogs. Cray-Cray did wake the baby here and there, but hey that happens, and we ensured that our child was never hurt by Cray-Cray. But the guilt still poured in. For starters, I lost my sweet (well-behaved) Joey-dog about a month after our baby was born, and I was left with my family and Cray-Cray, whose “issues” were magnified at the loss of his rock and companion, Joey-dog. Guilt swarmed me as I knew I hadn’t been there in the ways Joey needed me his last month of life.
My feelings for Cray-Cray intertwined with becoming a new mom were complex and difficult to grapple with. I felt flashes of hatred followed immediately by intense remorse as he incessantly barked, snapped at me, chewed on the baby’s toys, and made our already overwhelming adjustment to parenthood so much harder. I grew jealous of families with these amazing well-behaved dogs that fit into their family so seamlessly. What were we doing wrong?
The thing is I love my Cray-Cray. I know he is not a mean dog, and I realize that his behaviors come from a place of extreme anxiety. We did make it work, and I adore our family exactly as it is. My daughter loves Cray-Cray, and although I will not say the feeling is completely mutual, I will say Cray Cray is intelligent enough to understand he cannot snap at her. She also discovered how to be gentle with a dog that startles easily. “Doggie” is one of her first words, and she squeals with delight every time she sees her furry friend. Do I trust them together unsupervised? Absolutely not. She is a toddler that does not understand her own movement, and he is a dog that startles and fears. But we are family.
And we are a growing family. As we await the arrival of our son, we began the adoption process for a second furry family member as we found a rescue dog that actually was a great fit for our family. Just a side note: DO NOT! I REPEAT DO NOT, casually go into Petco after having breakfast thinking it’s a good place to show your daughter fish. And then whatever you do, do not mentally note that it is adoption day and think you can harmlessly mosey to the back of the store to show your daughter the adorable “doggies”… and then whatever you do, do not then go home and fill out an application for the sweetest dog in the world. DO NOT DO IT!
Is the timing idiotic? Of course! But I am a dog lover to the depth of my soul, and that will never change. My tolerance for chaos is growing through the roof. Thank goodness because obviously I am really Cray-Cray too. Cheers to the crazy ones and chaos. I really wouldn’t have it any other way.