I was one of those people who worried that I wouldn’t love my new baby as much as I love my dog. One time I even said (jokingly of course) that if the baby came out allergic to dogs I’d have to give him up because the dog already had 6 years with us. We got a golden retriever 8 years ago knowing that he’d be a great family dog one day, and we were exactly right. Somehow we had a puppy that loved his crate, never chewed up one shoe, was easily house broken, and was fiercely loyal from day one. So when we learned I was pregnant we spent the next 9 months thinking about how much fun our baby (the furry one) and our other baby (the 2-legged one) would have together.
We also have a cat. She actually joined our family a year or so before the dog; a “surprise” from my husband who rescued her from a construction trailer. She has also been a great member of the family, albeit she doesn’t demand or dole out as much attention as the dog. We knew the dog would be fine with a new person in the house, but we had our reservations about the cat. She likes attention, mostly from me, but would rather not be bothered by anyone else unless they’re feeding her.
Almost 2 years into our son’s tenure with us, our pets have blown us away with their love and patience. Cat included. Let’s start with her…. For the most part she takes off when she sees him coming, but every now and then he corners her and takes her down like a skilled football player. She’ll let out a growl, but just sit there looking tormented until I come to her rescue. Only once has she taken a swipe at him, and it was really more of a warning swat. It didn’t resonate with him and he still grabs her tail whenever he gets the chance. I never imagined she would be that accepting of his pokes, yanks, and body slams. Perhaps it’s because every morning he’s the one who gives her a treat. Fair trade-off in cat land I guess….
And then there’s the dog, our wonderful, furry, loving, friendly, goofy golden retriever. As I write this, junior is resting his blonde head on our blonde dog while his favorite teddy bear sings an Elvis Presley song over and over again. These two are best buds. They follow each other everywhere; junior waits for an opportune time to climb on him and the dog waits for food of any kind to hit the floor. The dog is a perfect pillow, jungle gym, and punching bag for our toddler.
As with any two year old, there are rapid and unexplainable mood swings, and the dog takes the brunt of it. One second junior is hugging him and kissing him on the nose, and the next second he’s swatting at him and demanding he “go ‘way!” Despite this erratic behavior the dog’s loyalty never waivers; his favorite place to rest is right outside of his mate’s bedroom. When the 3 of us walk together, he stays between the stroller and any approaching person or creature. His chest will puff out in a flash if he thinks anyone is getting too close.
Our pets were our original children, and they are just as much a part of our family now as they were several years ago. The cat still sleeps on the foot of our bed, and I never take the tot on a walk without also harnessing up the dog. Whenever our human child is being particularly abusive, I look the dog straight in the eyes and tell him what a good boy he is. Same goes for the cat. They take their hits knowing that extra ear scratches and treats are coming their way. Somehow I think they just sense when it’s time to be patient and gentle. They know that we are going to take charge and restore order when our spirited toddler is on the rampage. It can be crazy at times, but there’s nothing more comforting than the pitter-patter of ten little feet running to the kitchen for breakfast every morning.