Monday, April 2, 2007

The Other Sister

She's a fussy eater, doesn't sleep through the night, and definitely demands a lot of our attention. I'm not talking about the baby. I'm talking about her big sister. Our daughter may only be a few weeks old, but we've been parents for almost two years already. I am, of course, referring to our dog, Luna.

Way before we even starting talking about having a baby, we knew we would be fine as parents. It's a step a lot of couples take. Get a dog. See if you can take care of another living thing. We thought we were too selfish. Too lazy.
My 3 girls

But Luna taught us everything we needed to know about parenting. That we can love someone selflessly and enthusiastically, be nurturing and patient. Persevere. I don't think I'd be as confident or relaxed as I am as a father (or as I pretend to be, or as people tell me that I am) if not for Luna.

She's going through this process - learning, loving, worrying - right along with us. After all, her little black furry face has been there every step of the way: From the moment my wife emerged from the bathroom holding that little stick, and mouthed to me "I'm pregnant," as I sat on a conference call for work... to now.

During pregnancy, Luna would always sense when the roller coaster of hormones would kick in, jump onto the couch, climb onto my wife's chest, and kiss her nose while nervously wagging her tail. A look of concern on her face. She doesn't like it when one of us is upset. Good girl.

When my wife needed to relax, she was right there with her, curled up on her belly. A mother hen keeping the little egg warm. She must have known something was going on in there.

Now, when the baby wakes up crying each night, all Luna does is lift up her head and look at one us as if to say, "Uh, you gonna get that? Who's gonna get that?" Yes, she sleeps in our bed. That's another decision we made during pregnancy. She used to sleep in her crate. Then we figured she wouldn't settle down if she were locked up and we were getting up throughout the night.

We had to prepare her for the baby's arrival, just like we had to prepare ourselves. We heard a lot of warnings about how to get her ready. They made us believe Luna might act out towards the baby. Bite her or pounce on her. Or she'd act out towards us. Get jealous and pee on the carpet. Hasn't happened.

What did happen is we used her to practice holding, burping, rocking, swaddling, and yes, even diapering the baby. She has been a tremendous sport about the whole thing.

The first meeting

Their first meeting was classic. We laid the peanut on a blanket on the floor, and invited Luna to come look. She paced around her gingerly, stretched her face far enough forward to get a whiff, but held her body back enough to run at the first sign of trouble. She had no idea what this creature was. Then the baby let out a little cry, more of a grunt... and Luna anxiously barked. We laughed. They're arguing already. Sibling rivalry.

The apprehension quickly turned into curiosity. With each passing day, Luna would take another step closer. Finally, on the third day, it happened. Out of nowhere. The baby was alert and I was taking advantage and playing with her. Luna jumped onto the couch, looked at me, started to sniff. She leaned in and planted the cutest and quickest kiss on the baby's foot.


Always on guard
 If you're thinking, "Why would they let that filthy animal anywhere near that baby?" First of all, have a drink, or a cookie, and relax. Our pediatrician not only approves, but recommends we expose the baby to the dog since she is a part of our household and the baby needs to be acclimated to all of the normal germs within it.

So with the doctor's blesing, we allow Luna to push the limits. When the baby is sleeping in her Moses basket, Luna will peek in and rest her head on the side of it. When the basket is empty, she'll jump in and check it out. Luna even has come to enjoy playtime. When we lay the baby on the play mat, she will tag right along, tail wagging eagerly.

Caught in the Act
 I have become the dog's designated playmate, since my wife's lap is now routinely occupied by a child that is forever stuck to one of her boobs. Because of this, she can get neglected sometimes. Once, my wife was in the nursery feeding the baby. I was in the kitchen cooking dinner. She saw that I was busy, so she trotted into the nursery, tail up, hopeful. Just a short time later, I looked back and witnessed a completely different scene. She's slinking out of the nursery. Sulking. Skulking. Head down. Tail down. Depressed. Denied. Pathetic. I immediately picked her up, and gave her love. 

She's learning. Adapting. Adjusting. And, yes, loving. We might not give her as much attention as we used to, but we try and make enough time for her as we can.

They'll grow into each other
As I imagine our future, I can see a little girl wearing a pink sundress and blond pigtails, running around a sun drenched backyard, and a little black dog chasing after her, panting, wagging her tail. They are going to be best friends for life. And that's nothing to bark at.

3 comments:

  1. your blogs make me want to get married, have a dog and then have a baby!!!!
    love the latest blog....so cute and so heartwarming.....
    the lunelope adventures begin....

    ReplyDelete
  2. you are very lucky!!! our chocolate lab really can't
    stand (our daughter). she is so jealous of her. we don't worry that
    she will hurt her -- she just totally ignores her.
    only recently has she seemed the least bit interested
    and that's only b/c (she) sits in her high chair and
    throws food on the ground. now (the dog) is like a shark
    in the water, circling the chair. there seems to be
    only one thing (she) likes: the used nursing pads she
    digs out of the trash and eats. gross!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is beautiful! I love it! :)

    Happy Fathers day! http://adventuresofasinglelesbianmother.blogspot.com/2011/06/single-lesbian-mother-on-fatherhood.html

    ReplyDelete

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