My Dog Is My First Baby, And He Always Will Be

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dog and woman

The dynamics of a family change when a baby is born- that fact is unavoidable. Try as we might, it can be hard to keep things exactly the same, particularly where our pets are concerned. I know things shifted in favor of our kids for a few years and although still treated like a prince, our dog slid in behind them as far as our priorities. Now that our kids are older and not so needy, I am realizing that my dog is my first baby. And he always will be.

Sam was an anniversary gift from my parents (yes, we knew about it) and he was definitely our “baby.” We took him with us everywhere and fawned all over him. When he ate a deer turd at the park, we rushed to the pet store and bought a doggie toothbrush, fearing the worst. We took him with us to buy my car and sat in the lobby like idiots with a yipping puppy that peed on the floor. We dressed him up for Halloween and walked him around the neighborhood. Yes, we were “those” dog owners and pretty proud of it.

When we found out we were pregnant, he was the first thing I thought of. I worried my entire pregnancy that he would feel ignored or that he wouldn’t like the baby. You see, he was my rock when things took a difficult turn– absorbing my tears in his coarse, gray fur and sitting solemnly by my side when he knew I was in a bad place. To this day, he still runs to be with me if I’m crying or upset. As my husband says, there is no question who his master is. He is as loyal to me as can be.

I remember crying in the shower the day we brought our daughter home from the hospital. I called my husband into the bathroom and told him I was worried that the dog knew I loved our baby a little more than I loved him. Of course, a lot of this was surging hormones and recovering from major surgery (hello, painkillers) but there was a grain of truth there. I loved Sam so much and knew I always would but I also knew I would jump in front of a train for my daughter- and probably not for him.

Over time, I grew to accept my differing feelings toward the baby and Sam. I began to understand that I loved them both very much but that of course, that love would be different. Things got into a more normal rhythm as our daughter got older and I eventually stopped crying in the shower. The only big change for Sam was that we had to move him off of our bed at night. Every time we got up for the baby, he would wake and start barking- it was disruptive for us all. He claimed a comfy chair in the living room as his bed where he still sleeps today.

When they were babies and toddlers, I will admit- he did not get the same amount of attention as he did pre-kid. We still walked him, gave him tons of treats and took great care of him but we didn’t spend as much time playing with him as we did before. We didn’t worry over him like we did before. We were spread a lot thinner and I knew we were trying so hard, but I would still fret over it. I knew he felt loved but I hoped he understood that we were doing the best we could with the limited time and energy we had.

Now that the kids are older and I am working at home by myself all day while they are in school, Sam is my closest companion once again. He snoozes on his chair while I work and when I get up, he leaps from it and follows me wherever I go. He is turning nine in April and I’m not sure how many years he has left but I am glad for the way things turned out. I had my time to put my little ones first and now, the dog has his own stay-at-home mom to care for him. He is once again the baby, only now he has four people fawning over him instead of two. I think he got a pretty good deal in the end.

(Image: andresr/Shutterstock)