Sunday, October 12, 2014

Week 6 - Our Animal Babies

I have always been a huge animal lover. Growing up, my family always had an array of cats and dogs and I absolutely loved it! Luckily, the man I fell in love with and eventually married shares my affinity for our four legged friends.

When we first met, Justin had a basset hound named Pynchon. Justin worshipped the ground Pynchy walked on and it didn't take me long to fall in love with the hound, too. He was the center of our world.

I worked full time and Justin and I were both in law school which meant Pynchy spent many hours alone at our apartment during the day. We adopted a cat, Henry, from the local animal shelter to keep him company. The two got along famously!

Then, a little down the line, a sweet stray cat in our apartment complex adopted US! She absolutely adored Pynchy and we got sick of watching her shiver outside in the cold. Justin, who swore we would take in no more animals, was leaving food out for her at night. We eventually made it official and now she is a happy, healthy indoor-only kitty.

When I was 8 weeks pregnant with Reese (and while Meghan was delivering Grayson!!!) Pynchy passed away suddenly. He woke up sick one morning and we rushed him to the vet. The news was not good: he had cancer that had spread to his organs. He was bleeding internally and had no chance at recovery. We were devastated. Not wanting to watch our precious baby boy suffer any more than he had to, we made the choice to say goodbye.

Our world was rocked in a major way. We literally built our entire lives around this dog that we loved soooo much. We put our queen bed in our living room since the house we lived in at the time had no downstairs bedrooms and Pynchy's short little legs couldn't do stairs. We took him on all of our vacations. Our house was full of pictures of him.

And now he was gone.

We mourned his loss for months. Eventually, we missed the pitter patter of basset feet and, wanting to fill this huge void Pynch had left in our lives, we looked into getting another hound. Justin found a breeder he liked. I talked him out of the whole thing. After all, we had a baby on the way. Our lives were going to be hectic enough. A few weeks later, Justin approached me again saying he really wanted another dog. In my infinite wisdom, I convinced him that we should get TWO dogs so that they could keep each other company while we were caught up with the baby. Eventually, we welcomed Walter and Greta into our family.

Seven weeks later, Reese was born. And the fun began.

I have to say, this has been the most hectic, challenging time of my life. Not only because of our little bundle of joy but also because of these two puppies. I severely underestimated the amount of work involved in raising a baby and training two puppies simultaneously. Or maybe I was just ignorant? Either way, it was a major mistake.

Several times over the past year, I have broken down with regret about getting these dogs. They are CUTE and soooooo sweet. But soooo much work. My mental health and my marriage has really suffered. But I just can't bring myself to part with them.

Before I had a baby, I always SWORE that I would love my pets just as much as I love my children. Boy, was I… stupid? Ignorant? I still adore my cats. I feel bad that they don't get as much attention as they used to but they are mostly self sufficient. And it's getting easier to give them more attention now that Reese is older.

But the dogs. OHHHH, the dogs. It's hard to love them. They are just gorgeous creatures. And they just don't know any better. They are just puppies after all. But sometimes, at the end of the day, after caring for Reese, trying to be there for my husband, trying not to go off the deep end with my own stuff, I just have nothing left to give them.

We've had a tough year - 3 family deaths, 2 moves, a bitter fight with a rapacious landlord, going down to one income, Justin's job change, my last year of law school, the bar, a colicky newborn, and severe, prolonged sleep deprivation. I keep telling myself that maybe things will get easier. They will get older and calm down a little more (it's the basset way after all). Maybe they will. But in the meantime, they don't get the love or patience they deserve.

They adore Reese and are so sweet and gentle with him. The other day, Reese grabbed Greta's ear and yanked it before I could stop him. She just licked his face a little and went about her business. I have a dream that my three babies grow up together and are best friends. Some days I think we are on our way to that, other times I think it's too lofty of a goal.

They spend their days inside - mostly hanging out in the living room. We have a huge yard but they prefer to be inside with us. At night, Justin and I have been letting them sleep in bed with us.

I think part of my struggle is that I didn't have a significant amount of time to bond with them before Reese got here. Justin and I were looking for a replacement for Pynchy and that was just dumb on our part.

But we have some good times. They get better. We are able to be more patient and spend more time with them. Moments like these get me through the harder times.

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