There was a time in my life where I thought having dogs was a great idea. We have two small dogs, and they were our world. Peanut was mine, from way before I ever knew my husband, and Winnie Cooper was bought right after we moved to New Orleans. For the first few years of our life as a new family, we brought these dogs to do everything with us. Peanut even came on our honeymoon (but that is a whole other story)! We saw the dogs as practice for having kids. And then we had actual kids.
Before children, I remember thinking, “My dogs are the best. I love them so much. I cannot imagine a life without them!” Peanut and Winnie followed me all over the house. They got walked regularly. They ate really expensive dog food. Heck, I even bought them matching sweaters. I fretted over these dogs and thought they were the world. Now, the conversation about the dogs goes something like this,
Me: Did you feed the dogs?
Husband: No. I thought you did.
Me: Well I thought you did.
Husband: Crap. We are out of dog food! Who’s going to the store?Also the kids need more squeezy yogurt.
Now, it’s not that I don’t love my dogs. It’s just that I don’t love love my dogs. After the first child, the dogs sort of got lost in the shuffle but provided enough entertainment to the child that we thought it was cute. By the time the second child came along, the dogs got pushed so far down the to do list that they almost seem like an afterthought at this point. Usually I’m reminded they are around because of the barking or a child screaming that the dog stole their food or toy. In general, they are just another thing that needs to be taken care of in the midst of busy days, which I just don’t seem to have the energy to do. Yes, they get fed two times a day and get walked, but the zest and zeal for which we previously had for these activities has gone by the wayside after adding two small children to our family.
I’m not sure what it is that causes me to feel this way. The dogs aren’t bad, per se. It’s just that they are more of a pain in the butt. Peanut is somewhere around 13 years old. He is an old, grouchy dog who just wants the kids to give him food but doesn’t want to be pet or played with. The kids see him as a small, white dog that should be poked and thrown food. He is sort of okay with that. Winnie is more like a cat. She hides. She sits in windows. She sneaks around. If you don’t remember to push the chairs in at the table, you WILL find her on it eating all the food. These traits I used to find endearing now just grate on me. I hate to admit it, but some of the best days we’ve had in our house lately are the days the cleaning lady has come, the dogs are at daycare, and the kids are playing and there is no dog barking. Of course, we will take care of the dogs until their time comes, but I just can’t figure out what happened that made me feel so ambivalent towards their existence.
Funny story: We live on a busy Uptown street. The other day we decided to go on a family walk. We have a fenced in yard so we put the dogs in the yard. Part way through the walk, my older daughter (who has been sick) asked to go home. I decided to walk home with her while my husband and other daughter continued on the walk. When we got to the yard, I realized the dogs were not there. But I heard them inside. Silly me, I just thought my husband put them inside before the walk and I just didn’t realize it. A few moments later, my neighbor comes knocking on my door to tell me that the dogs had gotten out and were running away. She said her and another neighbor were able to gather them up and she put them in the house because the front door was open. OMG! Pre-kids, I would have flipped. But when she told me this, I didn’t even freak out at all. I felt more bad that she was inconvenienced than anything!! And my next though was, “Thank goodness she got them and put them in the house. I don’t have the energy to have to deal with searching for two dogs. It’s so close to the baby’s bedtime.”
So someone please tell me: Am I the only parent that feels this way about their pets?
we are the same person!!
husband and i met at a dog park, and by the time we welcomed madelynn in, we had four dogs. FOUR. i called our house a zoo, because that is exactly what it was. two yappy mini greyhounds, one prissy frou-frou boston terrier, and one rambunctious boston terrier (who would regularly get put in time out by my husband. and i mean that legitimately, he would sit with his nose in the corner, until my husband told him he could come out.) anyway, with the hustle and bustle of having a baby, and remodeling our house, the dog excitement wore off.. now two kids in, and down to one dog (greyhounds became aggressive, and had to be sent back to the rescue; one boston was lost and months of searching lead to nothing). at the end of the day, i really find it hard to have anything left to give. he is perfectly taken care of, but he’s kind of just there. i think he tolerates the abuse…i mean love, from evangeline because she seems to be the only one interested in him. i’m not sure my husband even knows we still have a dog. i’m definitely the only one who remembers to let him out, and even sometimes i forget that, and then i have to deal with those fun repercussions… i feel bad for him, because he too, is a good dog. even on the couple of occasions he has gotten out, he wont run away. he sits on our porch waiting for someone to let him in. i guess that means he is happy here?? 😉
You are NOT alone. My poor Maltipoo, Hairy Winston should have a puppy play date with Winnie Cooper and Peanut. ASAP
Well I am glad I’m not alone in these feelings! Thanks, ladies for helping me keep it real. 🙂
Our first born (aka Coco) was our world for the longest time. With 2 kids, it is just so much harder to make her the main focus. Of course she gets fed, walked, bathed and played with but I will admit that in the hierarchy of work, husband, kids, life … she isn’t always towards the top. We feel really guilty about it, but it is just hard. At dinnertime it is all I can do to get the 3 year old to eat and the 1 year old contained to a high chair much less worry about the dog’s water bowl. She lets us know when she needs something, though, although that is ALWAYS when the house is chaotic to begin with or right after I have sat down for dinner.
SO TRUE! My Lilly was my first baby, she slept with me in bed, on a pillow, under the covers and I would rub her back until she fell asleep. She is 11 years old now and I think she is so confused about why she doesn’t get that sort of attention anymore. So sad but I just don’t have the energy or time to give her the attention I used to. It’s bare necesseties these days….then again, I think that goes for everyone in my household 🙂
Totally relate! And the DOG HAIR!!! OH, THE DOG HAIR!! Bain of my existence. 😉 But I sure love that dog….though she’s usually an after thought with 2 kids, poor thing!
How is abusing an animal a “funny story” or “losing” your animal ok? People are busy, even those without children. Being busy with children, a husband or a job is no excuse for neglect. These animals grew accustomed to a certain life and treatment but now it is suddenly changed and their entire world is different. It seems like using a lack of time as an excuse for neglecting a responsibility and ignoring a larger problem.
Most of the things that have been mentioned – leaving doors open, neglecting to feed or take out seem more like poor organizational skills, communication and time management issues between the adults in the household and the animals are suffering. Rather than blaming the animal maybe taking a look at what makes everything so hectic would be best.
If it’s too much work then at the very least find your pet a suitable home.
I think you misread my post. The dogs escaped from the fenced yard and my front door was unlocked which allowed my neighbor to put them inside. Life happens. Please be assured that my dogs are not being abused. They have just been demoted from surrogate children to what they are: dogs.
I agree. My beagles went everywhere with us. I wouldn’t even put them at the kennel when we left town because I was afraid of their feelings. Now, my first baby (Hailey Bean) has passed and we did get another dog, but it’s completely different. I don’t think I’ll ever love a dog the way I loved her and the way I care for my other beagle. When I leave the house, I leave them in the yard, they don’t get walked anymore (sorry, but it’s just too much for me), they eat at the end of the night and they wait for the kids to go to bed so that they can pounce on me for an ounce of attention! 🙂
It’s funny because they’re still absolutely loved and cared for, but they’re no longer on the pedestal that they used to be on when we thought the world revolved around them.
Megan, I read your article and I while I wouldn’t use the word “abuse” I would say that I’m a little put off by the article.
Your first thought to allowing your dogs to run away was that it would be an inconvenience rather than losing two members of your family. I think the best option for you and others like you would to put your dogs up for adoption.
I’m not sure how this article is helpful to anyone other than having other people make you feel better for your behavior towards your animals.
I AGREE TOTALLY! Animals are living things too and are not to be used as practice for a baby!!!!! Grow up please!!!
Wow! I’m surprised by a few of the comments. Clearly, Megan you love your animals. Just because there’s a discussion about whether the dogs got fed, does not mean they are being neglected. Lighten up people. I love how honest this post is. I, too, thought my pets were the center of the universe until kids came. Kids change your perspective.
Seriously on the same page… After having triplets, our 2 Westies have totally found themselves at the bottom of the totem pole. It’s a constant fight of who took them out, fed them, cleaned up the accidents, took them for grooming, etc. Then all the food/skin allergies took over last year during the summer which just made it worse that they were always sick. Everytime I mention I giving them to a new family I get guilted in keeping them just one more year because they are for our kids now. I feel horrible but it’s like having five kids, six if you count hubby too. This Mom of Multiples is exhausted!
I have to admit, I am not seeing the benefit of the article. I love my pets and really find comfort in them after a hard parenting day. I really can’t imagine life without them, and even though it can be challenging to care for that many beings, I don’t feel the way you do. I felt bad for your pets throughout this article. Perhaps you can get your children more involved in helping with feeding and other duties to help make sure they are still part of your family. I realize this was meant in a lighthearted manner, by the way, but I think there is a way to blend kids and pets so everyone coexists happily (especially mommy!).