bambino vs fido: on loving dogs less

Over the last several months I’ve been having conversations with people about my dogs and how they are going to do when the baby arrives.

For the record I think Kayloo is going to practically twist her head off tilting it this way and that with every coo, gurgle and squeal. I think she will tap dance with worry when the little one cries. There is a chance Kayloo will think this soft, shiny human is her puppy.

I think Mickey is going to be concerned that there is a new person in the house and then once he gets used to that he’ll lose interest… only to have his interest rebound once he has established that the noisy one is an Official Pack Member. He will likely help to keep Kayloo in line if he thinks she’s being too goofy around our smallest cohort.

We’ll all readjust. I can’t wait to see how they do.

But that’s not all that comes up. Part of what comes up has to do with how things change when the little one arrives. That no matter how much you love your dogs, when the baby arrives it’s “just not the same.”

I have been giving that a lot of thought because that sounds like such a loss and makes me incredibly SAD. Have you met my dogs? My dogs are AWESOME. Mickey sleeps with me when I’m sick. Kayloo cries with me when I’m sad. They both make me belly laugh every day. I have spent more time with them over the last few years than anyone else on the PLANET including my HUSBAND. They are my buddies.

And so, I have mulled and mulled and mulled this over. And here’s my theory (which I realize is coming before I actually have a child so what do I know? but I’m going to share my theory anyway):

Let’s go back to when we were little ones. Back when we were barely knee-high our parents were our whole worlds. We reached for them and flung ourselves into their arms when we hadn’t seen them for five minutes and shared our mashed up banana with them at every turn. We adored them, couldn’t get enough.

And then we discovered Billy and Sally down the street and were introduced to the wonderful world of Friends. Now, it’s not that suddenly we loved our parents any less, but Billy and Sally were awesome. They had fast bikes and roller skates and could spit really far and and good spitters deserved top billing in our books. We loved Billy and Sally and we loved our folks and now our parents shared our hearts and our time with our new friends. Before friends came along, every second we had that wasn’t devoted to eating and figuring out gum was devoted to our parents. Now each of the loves of our lives was getting a slightly smaller (albeit no less important) piece of the pie. We didn’t love our parents less, we just loved other people too and kept fitting more wonderful people into each day.

As we got older things continued to change. We spent more time with our friends at school and dance class and hockey and continued to preoccupy ourselves with our classwork, school dances and scaring ourselves with Stephen King novels. More time was spent teasing our bangs than sharing mushy bananas and pretty soon we were, god forbid, dating and all semblance of rationality completely went out the window.

Eventually we moved out and went to university and got a job and quit that job and met the “love of our life” and dumped him. With each major life change (and they were all major because we were young and most everything when you’re young is new and therefore major) there was a corresponding shift in our priorities and the amount of spare time we felt we had. Through some of these changes we talked to our folks more and through some we talked with them less. No matter how much time we spent with them on the phone or at the kitchen table we loved them all the same. Things were changing and we were adjusting to what those changes meant, but just because we talked with our parents less didn’t mean we loved them less. We were just trying to figure out what the hell we were doing and only had so much time in the day to do it.

Fast forward several years to my situation: I’m married. Meeting and loving John has not made me love my parents any less. Even when we first started dating and in that annoying (for other people), “You hang up…” “No, YOU hang up! Tee hee” phase and I had hardly enough time to EAT let alone talk to anyone who wasn’t John, I didn’t love my parents any less. I was just preoccupied and blissfully ridiculous. It’s what is supposed to happen.

In the same way, when this baby arrives I don’t think I’m going to love my dogs any less, just as I’m not going to love John or my parents or the rest of my family or my friends any less.

At the same time, I’m told EVERYTHING changes and I suspect this is true.

As a mother I am biologically programmed to fall massively, selflessly, head-over-heels in love with this little babe in my belly. I have no idea what that kind of hormonally charged and instinctual kind of love is going to feel like. All I know is that moms and babes are designed to connect in this way. You know, propagation of the species and all that.

So although I am not going to love John or my family or friends any less, I WILL have less time for them for awhile. That includes the dogs.

Just as with any major life shift, and this will be the biggest one I have experienced yet, it will take me some time to get my head out of the learning-curve and hormone induced fog I will be immersed in. My first priority will be learning how to feed and care for the newest charge in my life and then from there I will slowly gain the bandwidth to take care of others again (and hopefully taking care of myself will be somewhere at the top of that list).

So I WILL have less time, my priorities WILL shift, and things WILL change. Things won’t be the same… how could they be? Things weren’t all the same after any of the big life changes I’ve navigated (moving overseas, taking and leaving various jobs, moving back to Canada, getting married), and this is MONUMENTAL so why would this be any different?

Less time? Yes. Change in priorities? You bet. Less love? I really don’t think so.

There is a pretty good chance my dogs aren’t going to get their daily 2 hour walks for quite some time. There is an excellent chance that I am going to spend more time cooing over bambino’s every blink and burp than I do Mickey and Kayloo’s. But I don’t think that will mean I love them any less, it will simply mean that I have a baby and that my child is a bigger priority. And that’s okay.

Priorities change and that is life.

Part of being an adult is acknowledging and adjusting to life’s various tectonic shifts and doing your best to revel in and negotiate the changes when you get there.

Soon enough I will know what it will feel like to be the apple of my baby’s eye… and then he or she will meet Billy and Sally from down the street and I will get a fresh and poignant lesson in changed priorities. It’s okay. It’ll sting like a sonofabitch, I’m sure, but it’s how things are supposed to go.

And I’m pretty sure I’ll still love my goofy dogs.

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Can you tell if we’re going to have a boy or a girl? Let me know your prediction!

8 Responses to “bambino vs fido: on loving dogs less”

  1. Love this theory! It makes perfect sense. Though I’m not a mom, so who knows…

    I’d like to throw out a couple things. One, your line about getting “a smaller piece of the pie” – that doesn’t make sense to me. It does in a way, but I think that with each new kind of love we learn and experience, our capacity for love grows. So sure, maybe it’s a smaller piece of the pie… but it’s out of a larger pie, so is it really “less”?

    Second, don’t forget that the baby will be bringing in his or her own pie into the picture. Seeing how you love the dogs, your baby is going to grow up loving dogs. Kayloo and Mickey will have a whole new being who adores them. That sounds like more love, not less 🙂

    • RE: Smaller piece of the pie- I totally agree. Mickey was our first dog and we started feeling guilty right before we brought Kayloo home because we thought that maybe Mickey was going to be jilted out of some love in some way… but then we learned, as you say, that love doesn’t get split up, it grows. I was meaning a smaller piece of the pie where “pie” was time or our attention… but you’re right- the important thing is love GROWS.

      Also, I love what you say about the baby bringing in his or her own pie… that is so true! I love that 🙂

      Thank you for your comment! 🙂

  2. Susan says:

    Everything will change, but you’ll be too wrapped up to know it! Your dogs will be your source of comfort when you need it. And you will. It’s always great to have an excuse to duck out and walk with the dogs, take a breath, look around. Love expands to include all. PLUS, the first time your baby notices a dog, reaches out for it or smiles at it…well, that’s just pure fun!

    • I’ve always thought it was so neat that you can tell when kids have pets at home- they usually put other animals at ease because they are so used to them. I can’t wait to see my babe and pups play together 🙂

      When we first got Mickey I noticed that since his little puppy legs didn’t go very fast I had the chance to watch more sunsets than I had in a long while… I think you’re right and, just as they have done at various other points in my life, my pups will get me outside for that breath of fresh air 🙂

      Thank you for your comment!

  3. […] Bambino vs. Fido: On Loving Dogs Less. Shauna, a pregnant blogger, reflects on how her relationship with her dogs will change–and stay the same–when she welcomes her baby into the world. I found this post very reassuring. As someone who hasn’t had kids yet but plans to one day, I confess I’m frankly terrified of the idea of emotionally displacing my future dogs. But, as she points out in this post, you don’t displace your dogs in your heart; you just make room. (Fido & Wino) […]

  4. katherine says:

    this is a great article. i doubt anyone loves their dog less – their life patterns just change completely. unless they have a baby then get rid of the dogs. i suppose that is loving the dogs a little less there. but like you said in one of the comments – the baby and pups will play together. it will be different for them too! hey they might like the baby even more than you do ^_^

    • Thank you for your comment 🙂 I can’t wait to see the babe and the pups together… Kayloo *loves* babies and kids (they make high pitched noises and do interesting things) and Mickey likes to make sure the pack is together (when he have company with little ones he keeps an eye on them to make sure we’re all together). They probably will love the babe more than us- he or she will probably be more fun! 🙂

  5. Pup Fan says:

    I love this post… I’ve heard people talk about this issue before, and I think your perspective is the most healthy and refreshing take on it I’ve seen. I hope that if (when?) I eventually take this leap, that you are right. I would hate to think that my love for my pup would be lessened in any way. I like the idea that we just make room for more love – the analogy to parents was perfect.