The Baby Bean Blog

Friday, October 21, 2005

I've Got Two in Diapers

Foxymama asked me how the dogs are getting along with the baby, and it is something I should address because--funny title of this post aside--it goes to the question of what changes when a baby enters your life and the choices that you end up making.

When Ella was born, I had four dogs: two little ones and two big ones. I haven't written about the little ones much because they are little and basically sane. The big ones, on the other hand, are big and missing a card or two in the deck. One of the big dogs, Blue, I've written about a couple times. Chester has gotten a lot more ink.

Blue was always a cause of concern for me when I thought about bringing a baby into the house. Blue has bitten me, my partner, and my mother. Not hard bites. He never drew blood. And I understood that he bit out of fear and uncertainty rather than true agression. So I was willing to work with him, which I did, and to his credit, he hadn't bitten anyone in a year (we've only had him for two years). But he is still anxious. Very, very anxious. And very high maintenance.

When we brought Ella home, all of our dogs were elsewhere, being taken care of by my mother and my friend Beth Marie. We had a plan to get them back on a staggered schedule. We got Chester back first, three days after we got home. He was fine with the baby, which we expected because the family that had him for the first 8 years of his life had kids. Chester pretty much chilled out and took it easy, even with the chaos of a new baby and inexperienced parents trying to figure things out.

Three days later, we got Blue back. Blue did not chill out. Instead, he got very worked up. When Ella cried, he got concerned and tried to push his way towards her. When we paid attention to her, he tried to get in the middle so that he would get the attention. When we walked Ella, he followed at our heels, so close that he bumped into us. And Chester, who had been content to lie down and relax, fed off of Blue's anxiety and took to pacing with Blue and mimicing other of his behaviors. My stress level went up. Way up. Taking care of Ella was all I could manage. I did not have the emotional or physical resources to meet her needs and assure Blue that all was okay. Within a couple of weeks, we made a decision: it was time for Blue to find a new home.

We found a family in New Jersey who wanted him, and after meeting them a couple of times, we drove Blue across the Delaware River to his new family. They like him, a lot. They say he's doing fine. But I still worry about him. I wish that I had a friend who was willing to take him, because then I would really know what kind of people he was living with. Although this family in New Jersey seems nice, they could be anyone or anything. I barely know three things about them. I have been keeping in contact and getting reports on how Blue is doing--at least as much as I can. Talking to my friend Beth Marie yesterday, who asked about him, I realized I haven't gotten a report on Blue in two weeks. Time just keeps going by.

That brought our dog total down to three, which was much more manageable. And then Chester started to display some incontinence issues. He's always had some, but the accidents had been limited to a very specific time: right after he had played fetch and was very tired. Part of the reason his incontinence was manageable, too, was that I was able to read his cues and jump up to let him out when he felt the sudden urge to go. With Ella, I can no longer do that. I cannot be at Chester's beck and call and Ella's, and sorry Chester, Ella wins that battle, and she wins it every time. So Chester started leaking. More and more.

I was about at the end of my rope. I could not imagine finding a new home for Chester. First of all, he's the only dog who likes me best. He's my dog. The others prefer my partner. Secondly, he's 11 years old. And his health is declining, although he's still in great shape. Who would want to take on such a dog? No one. And again, I wouldn't want to give him up. But I also cannot spend my time letting him out every half an hour and also cleaning up his messes when I can't jump at his command. So Chester is now wearing diapers, too.

They're not serious diapers. Just there to catch the leaks. They look like this:



But they've made all the difference in the world. I know that Chester's problem will continue to get worse, and we might have to move to something more substantial at some point, but for now, we've found a good solution.

The decision to find a new home for Blue really highlights how parenthood has changed my priorities. I used to make a lot of sacrifices for my pets. I would sacrifice myself quite a bit, both my personal happiness and my financial well being. But I'm not willing to sacrifice my time with my daughter or what is best for her. So Blue had to go. For now, we've found a solution for Chester, and I hope we can continue to do that in the future. The face is that there is only so much of me to go around, and the vast majority of me goes to Ella.

I heard an actor interviewed once, and he was asked how having his first child changed his life. He said that he and his wife had a dog before their baby, and the dog had practically been the center of their life. Their dog was their baby. Then their child was born, and all of a sudden, their dog was just their dog. I think about that often. It's true. Very true.

4 Comments:

  • So Very True. We had two little dogs before we had the boys. I used to joke that I hoped I would love my children as much as I loved my dogs. I was only half joking though.

    We sent the dogs away when we brought the twins home. One dog came back within a few weeks. She's low maintenance and adjusted just fine. I never really asked for the other dog back, and as time went by, my husband's parents grew very attached to him. Now he's their baby.

    By Blogger Whimsy Chick, at 7:28 PM, October 21, 2005  

  • I have to tell you that last night, for the first time, I seriously considered not having ANY pets. I never thought that idea would cross my mind. If my mother didn't have so many pets, believe me, I would be passing some of mine off on her.

    By Blogger Oz, at 11:39 AM, October 23, 2005  

  • Well, at least you have your priorities in their right order...as difficult as that may be. Although my Trevor loves people and kids I can't imagine how he'd be if I suddenly plunked a baby down in his life. He's used to being the baby and that's true of most pets I think. I'm glad you were able to find a solution to your current problem with Chester. He's been through a lot, hasn't he? You've been a good dog-mom to him. So many decisions to be made all the time, eh? ~:^)

    By Blogger foxymama, at 10:04 PM, October 26, 2005  

  • Right now, both of the little ones are at my mom's for a week since we're having company tomorrow and then going on a trip this weekend. So it's just Chester right now. And that's nice. Very nice. I could get used to this.

    By Blogger Oz, at 9:47 AM, October 27, 2005  

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