This is a question I get asked a lot. My response (in my head) is “What are you going to do about your face?” But of course that’s my inside voice.
In the 2.5 years that I’ve had Obi, my spoiled and loveable bulldog, I’ve grown used to the different reactions that people have regarding my dog. In the beginning it really, really bothered me but as time passed, I began to take the advice of well-wishers and began to brush off the mean and ignorant comments people had about him. I also learned to accept that everyone else didn’t have to like my dog as much as I like him and that it was ok if people were scared of him. Yes, I reserved the right to judge those people but in the end, I stopped letting it bother me and I stopped reacting so aggressively.
The irony is that in the past two years since I’ve had Obi, bulldogs have become one of the top ten “pure” breed dogs preferred by Chileans and with each passing year, the breed is becoming more and more popular (if commercials featuring bulldogs are any indication or the increasing number of bullies I see being walked around our neighborhood.) As per usual, the thing with Chile is this: if you wait long enough, thanks to the Internet and globalization in general, eventually people come around and seem to “get” where you’re coming from. That’s the silver lining of being an expat, and, let’s face it, the main consolation when I feel like griping about something pertaining to life in Chile.
However, one thing I have yet to wait out is the prevailing belief held by many that now that a baby is on the way, I should have some kind of answer to the question “what are you going to do with your dog?” Obviously to me, this question makes no sense. It would be like asking a second-time mom what she’s going to do with her 3-year old son now that she has another bun in the oven. Let me clarify: I’m not stating that some prep work isn’t required. I’m just saying that the question posed seems to imply an equal answer from my side (i.e. we’re having him slaughtered and stuffed, then we’re mounting his head on our wall. What?) Yes, this imaginary answer is ridiculous (I would NEVER!) but it reflects just how ridiculous I find the question that is asked over and over again by all KINDS of people, dog lovers and haters alike!
That aside, of course, the loaded question does bring to light the fact that some groundwork needs to happen. The fact of the matter is that Obi is just as part of the family as any other human equivalent under this roof and the poor little guy has the total disadvantage, that, unlike the rest of us, he hasn’t had months of prep time to get used to the idea of a baby. In fact, I don’t think he’s wired to like small, creepy, crawly things. First of all, he lunges at moths and swallows them whole. Second, if he sees a bug, he hides under the bed (apparently moths aren’t bugs in his head). Third, he barks really loudly at the vacuum when one is lugging it from room to room while cleaning (this being an example of something crawly, naturally). Finally, when I recently took him to the vet, we encountered a bulldog puppy that drove him insane. Apparently too small, too energetic and too bouncy for his liking. Check out the video below.
In all seriousness, I do believe that Obi will continue to be our loveable bulldog once the baby arrives. The main thing that we need to constantly remember (and some free unsolicited advice from yours truly) is to CHANGE AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE OF THE DOG’S NORMAL LIFE. In our case, what does it mean?
1.) Will Obi’s sleeping area be changed because of the baby?
No. He’ll continue to sleep where he’s always slept, right here in our room at the foot of our bed.
2.) Will Obi’s eating area be changed once the baby arrives?
No, it will continue to be in the kitchen, twice a day, once in the morning and once at night.
3.) Will any new rooms in the apartment be suddenly off limits to him because of the baby?
At present, no, but sooner or later this will change a bit since I don’t want him picking up small toys from the baby’s room and choking on them. However, he’s used to suddenly having rooms off-limits to him. For instance, right now, the dining room and living room are off limits because of a recent “accident” in both rooms (Grrrrr….)
In addition, what else are we doing?
1.) We play videos of baby’s crying, cooing, laughing, etc so he can get used to the sound.
2.) We walk around with the Cabbage Patch Kid my mother gave me when I was 8-years old (yes, you read that correctly), which we lull to sleep, carry around, pretend to feed, etc, etc … like some 30-something year old nutjobs. We even dressed this doll in the baby’s future duds. I kid you not.
3.) We’re brushing up on the commands he learned during his 6-month long obedience training (just in case!)
4.) Once I’m at the hospital, we’ll be sending home the clothes that the baby first wore so he can get a good ol’ whiff of the baby’s scent prior to her arrival at home.
Am I delusional in thinking that our dog will adapt? No, I truly believe that we’re going to be ok. The fact of the matter is that the baby is going to be an adjustment for EVERYONE, including G’s kids. The thing to keep in mind is that we need to address any kind of “rejection” or “odd” behavior with patience and strategy. Obi’s not going to be the first or last dog to have to adjust to a new baby in the house just as G’s kids aren’t going to be the first kids to adjust to the same thing. And I honestly believe Obi will do well. After all, he adores G’s kids and has never caused them any harm. In addition, so far, he seems to get a kick out of the would-be baby.
The point being is that, yes, I agree that some prep work needs to be done with any dog who’s about to realize that his “only child” status is about to be sabotaged in some way. This is part of responsible dog ownership, no?
Though the fact still remains that Obi will forever be my first baby, no matter what the haters think and no matter what other women tell me about “not knowing love until you meet your baby…” blah, blah, blah, BARF. I know love and I’ll know new love with the baby, let’s not confuse things. I love my husband, I love my dog and accordingly, I’ll love the baby. I see no competition. After all, no matter how much I love the baby or how cute ANY baby is, how can one NOT adore this loveable, wrinkly tub of love??