Sunday, March 18, 2012

Two dogs and a little baby

In my mid twenties, I was a little bit obsessed with Pomeranians. There was an elderly man in our South Philly neighborhood who had a cute little Pom named Petey. It was always such a treat to see them out and about even if I had to run a block or two to catch up with them. I really wanted a dog but was content at this point to enjoy other people’s dogs. The city was full of dogs of all types and sizes!

My mother had always wanted a Chinese Crested hairless. Her neighbor had a small herd of them and she became smitten. When she was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, her friends got together and gave her a Crested puppy for her 60th birthday. Their time together was short as my mother passed away a week later. This silly little hairless puppy named Mr. Broadway needed a home.

My landlord would not let us have a dog so we had to find a new place to live. We moved into the first place we could find and afford which really was not the nicest. We became proud puppy parents and our first piece of business was to change Mr. Broadway’s name, no way was I calling out that name on the streets. We named him Squeeky as that was my mother’s biker name (yes, she was a biker chick and Rolling Thunder member). It was also fitting because Squeeky makes very silly squeaking sounds.

We had this wonderful, ridiculous, hairless dog who was the opposite of my dream dog. I was amazed by how much I loved him and how much of a comfort that little dog was after my mother's death. A few months later, we decided Squeeky needed a furry fluffy friend to keep him warm on cold winter nights. We got Fizgig when he was about 6 weeks old, just a little handful of fluff. They became like Firc and Frack. They snuggled together and Squeeky would lick Fizgig's face. They were an odd couple, I would sometimes refer to them as the Ying Yang twins. Squeeky was like an Emo/Goth kid and Fizgig was a cheerleader. They got along like a house on fire and Squeeky would often stand up for his little brother at the dog park.

Dogs were a good lead up to having a baby. When we inherited Squeeky in 2005, we suddenly found ourselves talking about poop more than we ever could have imagined. Squeeky was a pretty easy dog but Fizgig was not. Fizgig was all teeth and wanted to play constantly. Squeeky only ever wanted to curl up in a lap. We had been fooled into having a second dog because the first one was so easy. I hear this often happens with babies.

There was a time when Patrick would leave for work and the dogs would curl up in bed with me. Fizgig at my feet and Squeeky would curl up by my chest or belly. Fizgig being fluffy likes to be above the blankets and Squeeky being the constantly cold pup likes to be cozy under the blankets. I am glad the dogs figured out who got what spot and didn't fight about their placement. This has changed since Orion has taken Squeeky's spot in the bed. Now Squeeky gets in the bed and is all like "who the hell is in my spot and what am I supposed to do?". Eventually he will settle down and find a different spot.

I love my dogs but sometimes I wish I didn’t have any dogs. Fizgig is an alert barker and anytime we have visitors he freaks out for a good 10 minutes. Or if he hears a car door outside, or a doorbell rings on TV. Squeeky is a crotchey old man who is very jealous of the baby. When Orion was very little, Squeeky tried to knock him out of my lap to reclaim the spot that was rightfully his. Even now there are times when I am nursing the baby and Squeeky gets into my lap and refuses to move when I need to get up. Too often I get trapped under a sleeping baby and 2 dogs when I really really need to pee.

When Squeeky is in a lap or on the couch, he will defend his spot and growl at the baby. Squeeky has snapped at the baby a few times and we know if Squeeky is on the couch and Orion comes by Squeeky will snap. So we have to make sure it doesn't get to that point. Squeeky has always been the lap admiral, defender of laps. When we would go to the dog park Squeeky would prefer to sit in a lap and would defend that lap from any dog that would come by. Squeeky has never bitten anyone and has only 4 teeth and prefers to swallow his food instead of chewing it but we do not want to test him.

Fizgig is more tolerant of the baby but this has been tested. Orion loves Fizgig, he loves to chase the dog, grab his leash, pull his fur. Usually, we make sure he is gentle when he pets Fizgig but sometimes Orion will have a big handful of fluff. Fizgig has snapped at Orion only once or twice so we have been really lucky. Orion has even knocked Fizgig in the face with a toy and Fizgig just ran off like a good boy. I do not like to leave the baby alone with the dogs but it does sometimes happen for a few minutes while I go run to do something.

I would be devastated if Orion was ever injured by my dogs. If you have dogs and will be having a baby there are a few things to keep in mind. It is easier to call a dog to come than call a baby. If I think the dogs are getting too close to Orion I will call the dog's name. They will usually get distracted and come to me. It is very important that your dogs will come when called. Squeeky is a bit stubborn with this command but he does stop whatever he is doing when I call him.

I didn’t know until we were leaving the hospital that they recommend keeping the baby away from the dogs (or cat if you have one) until said baby is 6 weeks old. I remember thinking, how the hell am I gonna do that as the dogs have been all over everything in the house and we did not clean everything before birthing the baby?! When I told this bit of information to my lactation consultant she thought it was a bunch of hog wash. She had grown up on a farm and felt that “we” shelter our kids way too much. We did try to keep the dogs from licking the baby but he did come in contact with them. (Fizgig loves to lick the baby!!! Which is really odd as Squeeky is the dog that licks everything all the time but he never licks the baby.)

When the baby comes home from the hospital, suddenly everything is always about the baby. I am sure my dogs felt left out. I came home from the hospital and went straight up to bed and hardly paid them any notice even though I hadn't been home for 5 days. We did try to make time for the puppies but it was very hard at first. Now we have family pack play time every day. I will sit on the floor to read to Orion and the dogs join us and I pet them or we toss a ball together. The floor is neutral territory and the dogs are very good with the baby when we are all on the floor together.

We make sure the baby does not bother the dogs when they are eating. Our dogs do not growl if you try to take their food away from them or at least that has not happened yet. Just because your dog hasn't done something in the past does not mean he will never exhibit that behavior. I want our dogs to know that they do have some time where the baby is not involved. If the dogs are in their crates (we have always crated our dogs at night or when we are not home) the baby does not go near the crates. If Fizgig is in his crate and Orion goes crawling over Fizgig will freak out. And of course when Fizgig is in his crate all Orion wants to do is go crawling over by the puppy. These can be frustrating times!

The other day I told Patrick that we will not be getting future dogs until our kids are teenagers. Even then we might become a cat family. It is easy to get overwhelmed when the baby is crying and the dogs are barking. But I love my dogs and there is no getting rid of them. They do need to understand that I love my baby more and will always put his needs first. Orion is the new head of the pack and even though he is small and poops his pants, he is deserving of their respect.

We have a million pictures of Orion with Fizgig but have been unable to get a single good photo of Orion with Squeeky. This is as close as we have gotten but it sums things up pretty well.

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