Our dog was used to being the center of attention and was not all that interested in having what I’m sure he considered a “freeloader” in the house. (I could tell by his facial expressions.) He wasn’t aggressive or anxious around the baby, but if we put Marty down in his car seat on the floor in the living room, he’d leave the room and go lay somewhere else. The dog has always been what a psychologist would define as emotionally unavailable. He definitely loves the family, but isn’t the kind of dog that races down from the cozy nest he built out of our bed pillows to wag and excitedly greet you. He’s not a big licker, which we like, and you’re lucky if you get some half-assed wags out of him (pun intended). It’s safe to say his worldview is “meh.”
So, the good news was the dog didn’t have any problems interacting with our kid. The bad news was that when our second child was born, his stubborn beagle attitude of “Now is the time I walk and there is no denying me” became irritating. He only seemed to bark when both the kids were finally being quiet. The kids are finally being good, and now the dog is being bad/requires time and energy that we had used up on two children.
If you Google “once you have kids you’ll hate your dog,” you’ll get pages of results featuring stories in a similar vein. Many who scoffed at the idea of rehoming their dogs before having kids ended up doing just that, like this author featured on Fast Company's website: “At the end of the day, I just feel so physically and emotionally spent from, you know, having it all, that the dog’s feelings just can’t get on my list of priorities.” I hear ya, sister.
Much time has passed, and our kids are now six and almost five. While we still have those moments where we just cleaned up a spilled breakfast, broke up a fight over the TV remote, and sat down to finally drink coffee and watch the news, and Django (named after the guitarist, not the movie) decides it’s time for a walk that he’ll eventually give up on two minutes in, I’ve noticed changes in his behavior that soften the blow of his pushier attributes.
He’s gone from ignoring the kids to being, dare I say, excited when they come home. Well, as excited as a dog who looks like he just hopped off a train car with a hobo sack can look. He sits patiently as the kids pet him, sometimes a bit too hard for his liking. He comes upstairs to join us for bedtime books. He sits next to the kids on the couch. It’s the first time in my life I’ve seen a dog experience what appears to be a maturing process, which has forced me to try to be more mature and accept the fact that this dog doesn’t know he wants his walks at inopportune times. Or does he? It’s hard to tell with him.
At the time of publication, Django still lives at our house, looking for the coziest pillows, blankets, and beds to lounge on and nibble. But that’s another story.