Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Pecking order

When David and I were engaged, and living on nothing but love, we got a dog. Of course we got a dog! That is what you do before you get the baby. The "test" child.

We picked her out of a big litter of little squirmy, Jack Russel puppies. She had a brown circle right on her backside, which stood out on her white fur. I remember asking the woman whose dog had the litter, if they shed. She looked away, and said "no". HA! Small white needles of hair have become my daily cleaning chore here. Liar!

We took Sophie home, and she ate her way through her puppy hood. Lost were pillows, and beloved shoes, that I spent too much money on in my frivolous single days. We took her everywhere with us. We even gave her a Christmas stocking. In the winter, she had a red jacket we put her in...after all...she was our baby. (She ran like the wind each time we broke that jacket out)

After we got married, (and seriously considered Sophie being involved in the wedding) we still babied her. When I went to the hospital in labor with Olivia, I even took a photo of her along with me, to concentrate on through the excruciating pain. (Didn't work!) I even called my newborn baby Sophie a few times on accident. She was my first little commitment to caring for something.

But then suddenly, the baby came home, and Sophie, who had been our baby, became the dog. She had never been the dog. Suddenly, she was banished from rooms. Walks became less frequent. She got yelled at when the baby slept, and she decided to go nuts when the UPS truck barreled down the street. Treats, and runs at the park weren't a daily event anymore. Now when we went for a walk, it was with our new shiny baby, in her stroller. Sophie left at home.

That is how it has gone for the last decade or so. And now, Sophie, with her whiter snout, and rounder belly, and inability to jump like she used to, is really turning a corner. This week, she was very sick. So sick, that David and I didn't think she would make it through the day. Even worse, was that a trip to the vet was just something we couldn't afford this week. It made me so sad. I sat and pet her, and felt just awful. Awful. I made a wish she would hang on.

So far, so good. She has returned back to her old, crabby self. Snarling at the girls if they come too close, and barking at every deer and chipmunk, like she has never seen one before. Her appetite is back, and she is back to her post, standing underfoot, while I prepare meals.

 I feel relief that she is OK, but frustrated that if it comes down to groceries to feed the girls, or a canine blood test, the choice is not good for Sophie.

 I hate that more than I can say.


  1. We had every intention of getting a dog first. We really need a fence around the yard though, so that was going to come first. We still have most of the materials to build the fence sitting under the back porch, all these years later. Some of them got used to build a playhouse.

    It seems that after digging the first hole for the posts required for the fence, we thought a baby seemed like less work after all. All these years later, we joke that we'd have been able to leave the dog home alone in a cage way before this.

  2. :( Sorry Erin. I could have written the beginning of this post myself. My dogs went evvvverywhere with me if I wasn't at work. Yes, I had the shoulder bag to carry them when they were too tired from hoofing the streets of midtown- u.east side, or when I had to run into a store and knew it was a no-no to bring dogs with leashes, but perfectly ok to bring dogs in a handbag! lol. Now, they are both missing several teeth, and haven't seen a vet in almost 3 years. I feel terrible about it every day. On the flip side, I have started walking them again every day, 3 times a day and I have to say, WHAT A DIFFERENCE! They got their pep back in their steps, they've become affectionate w the boys (which they never really were before), and the "accidents" around the house have all but stopped! The good news is, Sophie knows how loved she is, and she knows her place in your family. The great thing about dogs is that they ARE pack animals, and they completely understand and respect the pecking order in packs... and she doesn't love you any less for her place in the pack :)