I’ve always been a dog person. We adopted our first dog, a pug, as soon as we had stable jobs and the okay from our landlord. The pug was small and cute and stubborn and despite his dubious culinary preferences, we loved and treated him like our baby. He was our baby. Four years later, we once again heard the pitter-patter of little dog feet when we brought our second dog, the mutt, into our home. Our problem child. A rescue dog, the mutt was loud and demanding and destructive to couches and kitchen floors. But he was sweet and intuitive. He nearly got us evicted, but we loved him anyway. We welcomed him into our family and set out, determined to make it work. We bought a little house, fenced in our yard.
Life with dogs was good, if sometimes aggravating and fairly expensive. The pug seemed to have a penchant for medical drama – he ate a whole onion and got doggie food poisoning, had middle-of-the-night emergency bladder surgery, had a hip repaired. The mutt, while very healthy, never really learned any manners. The dogs ruled the roost, and we let them.
And then, we were going to have a baby. A real baby.
Preparing for our baby girl’s arrival, we fought hard against the baby-product avalanche. We limited our registry, returned large and unnecessary gifts. We carefully researched the things a baby required, and made hard decisions about want versus need. We packed up anything in our house that was not a necessity, and some of the things that were: our books were sadly placed into rubber bins, but only after making meticulous card catalog-style reference charts. We eyed the monsters that ruled our house and wondered how, exactly, this was going to work.
Our little girl came home to two first-time parents, two dogs, and 825 square feet.
The first days passed, and we wondered how it would work. The mutt was louder and needier than ever. The pug was spending far too many hours in his crate. Bored with us, and with their new place at the bottom of the pecking order, they started squabbling with each other. The mutt went nuts with cabin fever, running banked turns off the walls of our tiny living room. The pug barked incessantly at us and everything from passers-by to falling leaves outside the window.
We looked at our canine babies, and suddenly, they weren’t our babies at all. They were just dogs. They looked at us and our little baby girl with offended expressions on their doggie faces that said, “We hate the new dog.”
A month flew by. Then two. We lamented how easy life would be without pets. We weighed our options.
Nearly five months in, it’s still crazy. The dogs remain needy and loud and annoying. Our little girl is growing big and strong and smart before our eyes. She amazes us every day with something new. One day, the mutt walked into the room, and she smiled and laughed. The pug will lick her feet and she’ll reach out to touch his head.
And sometimes, when our baby girl is happy and tired, the dogs are sleeping and content, and the house is quiet, we look around and realize that every person in our little family, in our little house, is within arm’s reach. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.