Three years ago, Yun and I were newlyweds. We spent half a year in marital bliss, but soon I was antsy for something more. Our family of two didn’t feel complete; yet, it was too early for us to think about having a baby. Caught between the desire for a richer family and not being ready for a baby, we got a puppy. This is how Loki came into our lives.
Loki was our practice child, and he taught us many things. He taught us what it meant to care of someone else. He taught us how to divide the responsibilities of caring for a helpless creature. And he taught us what it was like to disagree about parenting philosophies.
Sharing the responsibility of mundane household chores was very different from sharing the responsibility of caring for another being. The consequences of not taking out the trash were very different from the consequences of not feeding the dog. If you don’t take out the trash, your kitchen is stinky. It’s unpleasant, but it’s not really a big deal. If you don’t feed the dog, the dog goes hungry. He genuinely suffers.
I distinctly remember one critical lesson that Loki taught us during his first week with us. We were lounging in our living room and watching TV one evening. We weren’t particularly busy and not ever particularly engrossed with the TV show. Suddenly, we realized that it was already 11 p.m. and no one had fed the puppy its dinner. Our “shared” responsibility turned into no one’s responsibility. The feminist in me wanted all of our shared responsibilities to be 100% equal. Why should it be my job to feed the dog? It should be just as much his job to remember as it was mine. But reality didn’t work out according to plan. If no one took the responsibility, the dog wouldn’t get fed. There had to be only one person responsible for the task. The other could help out, but there had to be one person to ensure that the task got done. In the end, I took ownership of that task.
Having passed the puppy stage, we are now approaching the next stage of our lives. We are expecting another addition to our pack in March. Because of our anticipated event, we’ll also be joined by Yun’s parents for a few months. They’ll be arriving three weeks before my due date. Hopefully, this will give both the humans and dogs some time to adjust to each other before the baby arrives.
I hope the dogs will adjust well to all of our pack changes. Admittedly, I’m slightly worried because my in-laws aren’t exactly “dog people.” Loki barked at them last time they visited us. But since then, Loki has been more exposed to a variety of visitors. In the past year, we’ve had house contractors, a large party of friends, and numerous overnight visitors. Both dogs have been absolutely wonderful with all of our human visitors, so I hope that’s a good predictor of their future behavior when my in-laws come.
Lastly, of course, the dogs will have to adjust to the baby. I’m surprisingly not as anxious about my dogs and a newborn as I initially thought I would be. A newborn doesn’t really move; therefore, it’s not threatening to a dog. From what I’ve read, at worst, a dog may regard a newborn as prey.
Perhaps I’m not too concerned because I’m fully aware of our dogs’ behavior. I’m under no silly disillusion that my dogs are angels. I think some people let their guard down because their dogs have always behaved perfectly. I know better. My dogs aren’t perfect. They aren’t angels. They are dogs. Of course, I wouldn’t ever leave my baby unsupervised with dogs.
I’m excited about all the new adventures in store for all of us. I’m sure we’ll hit some high notes and some low notes. We’ll learn and grow, as we always do, and along the way, I’ll have some interesting blog posts.
Articles on dogs and babies:
Introducing an Infant to a Resident Dog
Your new "Pack Member" Introducing Your Dog to a New Baby by Martin Guerra