There was a time when I would spend a solid five minutes gazing lovingly into my dogs eyes, playing this game we made up where I try to touch our noses before you could lick me and give me kisses. He would wag his tail and bark this little bark of excitement and he’d lick me even if I won.
Last night I tried to play this game with him for the first time in probably 4 years. The son of a bitch bit my freakin’ nose.
Because kids, y’all.
I grew up with bigger dogs. Dobermans, Labs. So when I was finally out of the house and had a yard of my own, I decided I wanted a little cute Maltese. Because I was a freakin’ idiot. All I knew was I wanted the CUTEST puppy. So I found an ad on Craigslist (which was less creepy way back in 2006) and drove with my mom to Dallas to pick him up. I paid $300 and fell in love. We spent the night in a hotel and all through the night I pet him and snuggled him and whispered how much I loved him.
After about 4 months, my husband gave me the ultimatum: If I was going to have a toy dog, he was going to have a real dog. So when a co-worker sent out an email trying to rehome her lab mix because her son had developed allergies, I jumped on it. We set up a doggie play date and when my Maltese, Oz, who hates everyone, actually liked Cinnamon… we knew it was meant to be. And thank God for that. Because Cinnamon is the best dog anyone’s ever had ever. I know everyone thinks that about their dog, but once they meet my dog, they change their minds. I’m not saying it as a matter of opinion or to brag. I’m saying he won the popular vote. Cinnamon is the best dog.
I used to have time for them.
Even though I did work 12 hours a day, when I came home, I played with them for an hour every night, easy. I took them on adventures and walks. We did so much together that if I went out for a night after work, they’d get mad at me. Like, one would sleep in the other room pouting and one would piss on my pillow when I was out. They were the only thing that kept me from wanting children for so long. They kept my baby fever at bay. I held Oz like a baby on my hip. I’d carry him to bed, for Pete’s sake. They were exactly what I wanted them to be. When I got pregnant, I still snuggled with them. Oz pawed at my big belly as if I were smuggling treats in there. When the baby came, they snuggled with the baby. They loved her. I still gave them attention when she slept. All was ok.
And then she got mobile.
And then they started fleeing in fear. They’d follow me because I was their protector. Cinnamon would just take it. He ‘s let all my kids climb on him and give pets and snuggles. The only time he’s ever complained was once my oldest when she had just started crawling grabbed his penis and yanked. He yelped and with a totally soft mouth, removed her hand from his junk and then licked her face. Because he understood she was just a baby. And he’s the best freakin’ dog ever.
But it wasn’t long after my oldest became mobile that they taught me to stop closing the door to use the bathroom. Because I heard them at the door waiting for me. And a growl. Then a snap, and scream. And then just crying. I ran out, saw Oz had bit my oldest and I picked him up and threw him across two rooms. It wasn’t until later while cleaning up my daughter’s hand that I noticed her little fist was full of his hair. She’d pulled his hair out. She definitely had the bite coming. And he hadn’t even broke the little baby skin. But he’s still the one who got punished. Any altercation between them and the dog is the one who gets punished. Not the baby. And I’ve noticed it’s that way for my friends as well. It’s totally understandable, I think. But it’s also kinda sad.
Because Dogs are like starter Kids. And that’s freakin’ terrible.
We used to joke that we had dogs because you can’t lock kids in a cage for 12 hours while you go to work. But in the 10 years we’ve had out dogs, we’ve never put them in a cage. Nor have we kenneled them. They’re part of our family and even though it is undoubtedly inconvenient for our friends and family; where we go, they go. When people get rid of their dogs when their kids come, it drives me insane. Yes, my life now would be easier without my dogs. But I freakin’ love them. And while I could probably rehome Cinnamon pretty easily, someone would just turn Oz into a poopoo platter for a Wed night special at the local butcher shop. (That probably doesn’t happen.) My life would be easier without a diva toddler, a warrior 1st grader and a screaming baby. But I’m not going to get rid of them, either. Because I love them. If you’re not capable of really loving your damned dog, don’t get one.
Because why would I put them through that? The “re-homing” isn’t easy on a dog. You sure as shit can’t say a shelter would be better for them than not getting as much attention as they once did. And if you really believe dogs are capable of love, why would you think they’d rather go to a new home, even if it’s a “better” one than to live with the family they love? Besides. My kids give them food all the damned time. There’s a trade off. Have you seen this? This is real life. My dogs are fat because my kids feed them all the time. They were skinny. Because they also ran them like crazy. But they’re too tired for those shenanigans, now.
My boys are getting Old.
And it’s freakin’ terrifying. Because now my three children are also attached to them. And when one dies, not only will it crush me and my husband it will devastate my whole family. Including whichever dog is left behind. I lose sleep over this. Cinn has cysts on his hips and sides. My childhood dog was a lab and also had this. One turned cancerous and that’s how he died. Cinnamon sometimes struggles to get up the stairs. He falls down. He’s so sore the next day he doesn’t come back up at all. We have to carry him up and down stairs some days.
After his last fall, my husband said “He’ll bounce back this time. But soon he won’t be able to. We’re going to have to put him down soon.”
I didn’t speak to him for two days.
In fact, I’m rejuvenated in my anger. I don’t think I’ll make him dinner tonight. That asshole.
I asked my vet a few years ago how much longer he thought my boys had. He said labs only live to be around 12 at most. Cinnamon is 12. Little dogs, he says live a lot longer, some upwards of 20 years. Shit. Of course the little asshole who runs away, shits on my floor and rage pisses will live forever. And my glorious dog who’s basically Nana from Peter Pan will leave us soon. And it will devastate us all.
So now, we’re making a better effort. We let them have our spots on the couch. I’ve literally gotten up to sleep in the spare room so Cinn could sleep in my bed. His bones just cant take the moving around with me while I toss and turn anymore. I bought them special treats. I’ve been getting him chewies like we used to. I even go out of my way to bring them their treats to they don’t have to get up. The kids aren’t allowed to crawl on them anymore. I think I’m petting them more, too.
But I’m pretty sure the damage is done.
Because, like I said, Oz bit my damned nose. The asshole. And Cinn just looks at me like a roommate who won’t do the dishes. They’re members of our family. But they’re now basically just annoyed by our presence.