If you are an animal person, then you will understand this post. To many people their animals are family. They are their babies… before you have actual babies and then the relationship changes. No matter how much you swear it won’t, those fur babies will take second place to the human ones. (And they should.)
I have two dogs. They were (and still are) my babies. They helped me heal when I needed it the most and for that I will forever be grateful. We got Charlotte, a 10 month old Lab/Basset Hound mix shortly after learning that getting pregnant was not going to be an easy road for us. Charlotte gave me what I needed at the time… distraction, purpose and love. She is one of the sweetest dogs on the planet and the only one I have ever known to actually hug people (the best a dog can hug anyway.) Max was added to our family after my first miscarriage. We got him as a puppy, only 7 weeks old, once again giving me something I needed in my sorrow. In hindsight, it’s probably good that we were eventually able to get pregnant or I might have ended up needing to open a kennel.
My dogs quickly became my family. My husband and I went to the dog park often, took them with us to family events and they slept in our room. Saturday mornings were spent sleeping in late and rough housing with the dogs before finally getting up and getting started with the day. I bought them toys, enrolled them in training classes and made sure we never missed a vet appointment.
Fast forward to being a family of four… We still have both of our dogs, now 8 and 6 years old. They are still my family, but not in the same way. Gone are the days of endless ball throwing and Saturday morning tug-of-war. Gone are the attempts to teach them to walk well on a leash. We don’t go to the dog park (but that is more due to Max deciding he hates other male dogs) and they now have to stay home when we venture out to friends and families houses for events. They still get love and I make sure they are healthy, but they are definitely not my priority in the same way they used to be. I know that this is how it should be, but I do sometimes feel guilty about it, especially when Charlotte stares at me with her sad Basset Hound eyes. Or when she gets so excited when I make time to go out into the backyard and throw the Frisbee for her.
I couldn’t ask for two better dogs for my kids to be around. They put up with their shenanigans and snuggle at the foot of their beds at night. But, their lives have changed as our family has changed. They may not be my first priority anymore, but I still can’t imagine our family without them.