I’ve been having trouble keeping up with this blog recently. It’s not because I don’t want to, it’s just that various domestic responsibilities have been ruling my life since mid-May. By that I mean, my husband has had to travel four out of the past five weeks for work, and I’ve been manning the fort, which leaves me with little time to write, not to mention exhausted. The combination of owning a dog in the city and taking care of a toddler alone is challenging. One or the other would be manageable, but both… (And I only have one kid! I know plenty of people manage with multiple kids and dogs, and I’m in awe.) Once, a friend asked me, “If you could do it over, would you still get the dog before you had the baby?” And I said, “Yes, but I’d have bought a house with a backyard.”
We’ve got a house with a deck, which is lovely, but leaves the dog with his legs crossed a lot of the time. So, picture it: 6:30 am, gusty winds and fog, 48 degrees, and I’m wrestling with Aaron at the dog park. (After wrestling him into some clothes, shoes, and a jacket at home and prying a container of Cheerios out of his hands in the car to much protestation.) Howie, our dog, is eager to hike around the park, and Aaron – Aaron wants to pick up rocks and say “windy” over and over. When I pick him up to catch up to the dog, he yells at me and fights to get back down. He has become too strong and heavy for me to hold when he’s struggling and my arms ache from trying to keep a grip on him. He refuses to hold my hand on steep rocky paths, but he’s not a capable enough walker to navigate the trail on his own. I am not fully caffeinated and my temper is easily piqued. I drop my sunglasses. I drop the dog’s leash. The wind blows my hair across my face. Howie runs ahead and keeps looking back at us, exasperated. His expression says, “Come on, people! Let’s go!” When it’s time to leave the park, Howie keeps running ahead so I can’t get his leash back on.
This, for the most part, is representative of my month. These battles have been taking place morning and afternoon for weeks. It’s funny, I read somewhere that dogs have the intellectual capacities of two-year-old humans, but not until I had a child did I see the similarities between the behavior of toddlers and mischievous dogs. Both Aaron and Howie refuse to look at me when they’ve done something wrong. Both run away when feeling playful and/or misbehaving, sometimes taking items of importance, as though they are committing poorly planned robberies. Both tend to jettison the items they are not supposed to have – Aaron, when he is caught with the forbidden, hurls said item away, as if to say, “I wasn’t touching that. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Howie opens his mouth to drop things that aren’t his and then looks away, as if he can’t see what I’m referring to. He also takes things (usually Aaron’s toys) and buries them in my flower beds, thus committing two three crimes at a time: taking something that isn’t his, ruining a flower bed, and tracking dirt in the house.
Both boy and dog are demanding when it comes to food: Aaron repeats the name of the food over and over, his voice escalating from excitement to whining to yelling and crying. (While my stress level increases proportionately.) When he wants dinner, Howie stares at me intently, then sighs and paces, then, if he still hasn’t been served, he paws at me, sits up and begs, and finally barks.
All of this is worth it of course, when Aaron says a new word, or beams at me, or laughs. Or when he says “Mama” with a certain tone of affection in his voice. And when Howie wags his tail and licks my hand, or when he bumps my hand with his nose to remind me he’s there.