Before I had my daughter, I was the doting adoptive parent of two fur babies – Penny and Pokey, the miniature pinschers. I was a great mum; I bought them little winter coats, cuddled with them on the couch, took them out for doggy cinos (they do exist; just ask Seddon Deadly Sins!), and snapped hundreds of photos of them on my phone – playing, sleeping, eating… destroying something. I’m sure my loyal Facebook friends had quite a gutful of their adorable little faces.
Now, as far as dogs go, I’ve always known they are quite a handful: energetic, noisy, very fast, and extremely naughty (despite the hours and hours spent at dog school). But, I loved them anyway; it was easy to look past their flaws when they soaked up all my attention so appreciatively. Yes, I even had some professional photographs taken of my two darlings, which are proudly displayed in my living room. They are truly dogs that only a mother could love.
It was 2013, and Penny was about to turn two; I made doggy cupcakes, and everything was going swimmingly. Then I fell pregnant. Little did I know my relationship with Penny and Pokey was about to change forever.
It didn’t happen overnight, but week by week, as my belly grew, so did my maternal instincts, and I began to dote on little Penny even more than before. I even had frightening dreams about her being eaten, injured or lost – I knew I was subconsciously directing my maternal energy her way, and, of course, she lapped it up (no pun intended!).
I began to prepare the two dogs for the imminent arrival of their little brother or sister (yes, I used human sibling terminology!) by changing the rules; they were no longer allowed to sit on the couch, or have free reign of the bedrooms. Like obedient children, they followed the rules as best they could, at least when doggy excitement didn’t get the better of them.
In my last trimester, I started to worry about their barking. Would they bark and disturb my baby’s naps? I employed a squirty bottle of water as a discipline tool to curb their noisiness.
Then the nesting instinct kicked in, and I was paranoid about their germy paws soiling the carpets, their (imaginary) flea infestations, and molting. The dogs began to spend more and more time outdoors, coming inside mostly for increasingly frequent baths.
I still loved and cared for them, but they were slowly moving out of the ‘baby’ zone and into the ‘pet’ category. When my daughter was born, the move was finalised. Not only were the two dogs now definitely just ‘pets’, but they actually began to annoy me. They got under my feet when I had my baby in my arms, barked incessantly at nothing, stole the baby’s toys, raced up and down the hallway floorboards with clattering toenails, and even, I was furious to discover, enjoyed thumping against the nursery door when baby was napping.
They just wanted attention, poor things, but I was not one to give it! Nowadays, my daughter is 10 months old; the photos on my phone are all of her, and my scary maternal dreams feature her only. I now bake healthy baby-friendly cupcakes instead of doggy ones, and it’s she who gets the daily bath, not the pooches. Don’t get me wrong, our dogs are still cared for, but, I am sad to say, I now see them through un-tinted glasses.
Their best saving grace? The fun I know my daughter will have with them one day. I already love watching her hug onto them, laugh at their antics, and ‘pat’ them while they patiently endure baby love. I remember my relationship with my childhood dog being a powerful one, and look forward to that for my daughter when she’s older.
Until then, Penny and Pokey are putting their best efforts into regaining my attention and affection, and if that means doing a fantastic job of cleaning the carpets after baby mealtime, then I guess they’re already halfway there!