|Luckily we “got” a baby who like animals. :)|
Before we had E.V., I was left alone a lot while Ryan traveled for work. I hate event to say that, though, because I wasn’t truly alone. I had Oscar and Olive to keep me company.
I’ve heard from almost every dog-owner-turned-parent that “your dog will become just a dog after you have kids.” It hurt my heart every time someone would espouse this gut-wrenching thought to me. In fact, it still does. Ryan and I talked a lot about how to integrate a baby and the dogs into our lives while I was pregnant, but we had no idea how Oscar and Olive would actually react to having another person in the household.
Oscar took to Emma Vance quite quickly. He’s happy-go-lucky in life, and thus adjusted easily. Oscar will be E.V.’s bestie one day; I have visions of her laughing as she dresses him up in ridiculous outfits, Oscar putting up with it because he loves her so much. Oscar loves being close to her, napping next to her, sniffing her at all opportunities, trying to play with her already because he doesn’t understand that she’s fragile. (He’s even scratched her a couple of times, slinking away guiltily when we yell at him. We know you didn’t mean to, buddy, but she’s not old enough to play back yet!) In the beginning, when I was still getting up to feed her in the middle of the night, Ryan and Olive would be snoring away while Oscar and I tended to Emma Vance in the nursery. What I had meant to be Olive’s dog bed in the baby’s room was quickly usurped by Oscar. He wouldn’t let Emma Vance out of his sight, so no matter the hour, he would trot behind me then curl up at my feet until it was time to put E.V. back in her bassinet. Oscar is a very good puppy dad, and one day will make a wonderful puppy friend for Emma Vance.
|Nightshift is HARD on a puppy dad!|
|(Acting like he hates it, even though we ALL know he secretly loves this…)|
|(…and she does, too!)|
Olive, on the other hand, broke my heart early on. I had fully expected her to play mother hen to the baby, which she does, but not in the way I always envisioned it. Olive is Emma Vance’s protector. Walk into her nursery and you’ll see: Olive is a fierce defender of the space and will greet you with a terrifying bark. However much she loves E.V., though, it was a rough and unexpected start. When we brought E.V. home, Olive was standoffish to me. I think she went through a small depression, and the great wave of postpartum hormones convinced me that she hated me. I actually cried over it a couple of times. It felt like my best little buddy had been torn away and was suffering because of me.
It was terrible, but as the months have passed, Olive has adjusted. She isn’t obsessive about the baby like Oscar, but she shows her love in different ways. She’s come to enjoy snuggling with me while I feed E.V. (perhaps because it means I’m a captive audience for petting her) and has even begun licking Emma Vance every now and then. Even more importantly, though, is that I feel like she loves me again, a turning point that occurred quite suddenly a week or so ago.
I’ve been running for exercise, mostly indoors at the gym because it’s been so hot. The other day, however, it was gorgeous out, so I decided to run at a local trail and brought Olive along with me. (Oscar’s too wimpy and historically hasn’t been able to keep up, and I wasn’t prepared to carry him for the last half of the run like I’ve done in the past!) It’s been a while since she’s gotten any really good exercise, and I’d been feeling guilty about that in addition to her mini-depression. She was in heaven! She could only make it two miles because she’s out of shape, but it was exactly what we needed in our relationship. I swear that little bit of one-on-one special attention flipped a switch in her tiny puppy brain to tell her that we’re going to be alright. Consequently, it flipped the same switch in my brain as well.
|“Why does the baby get all the attention?”|
I often feel guilty that I don’t have as much time or energy to devote to the dogs these days. It feels terrible to not be able to explain to them that right now Emma Vance literally needs me for survival and that I know they’ll be okay on their own for a bit. The best I can do is try to sneak a few minutes here and there with them when she’s asleep, buy them a few new toys to make up for “mom guilt,” and indulge them with a few extra treats right now.
The moral of the story is that I still love Oscar and Olive as much as I did before, and they’ll never be “just dogs” to me–no matter what.