Attempts At Adulthood

An Open Letter to My Dog After the Birth of my First Child

Dear Tig,

Here’s a list of things for which I want to apologize:

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 7

1.  I’m sorry for every time I loop your leash around the doorknob and hurriedly say, “Two minutes!  I’m going to take you outside in two minutes!”  Because I am not going to do that.  You know, as you watch me struggling to get the baby into the carrier, realizing that he’s not wearing socks and also that he’s just wet himself, that it is going to be closer to fifteen minutes.  Possibly 20 minutes.  Once in a while, forty minutes goes by and you sit, patiently waiting, attached to the door.  And I walk back into the living room to see you sitting there and yell, “Oh my god Tig, I completely forgot about you!”  And you very politely turn yourself so you’re facing the door, which is the dog way of saying, “I know you forgot.  You forget a lot.  I understand.  But please, I do need to go outside now.”

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 2

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2.  I’m sorry for every time I walk through the front door and don’t immediately go to pet you.  Every time I arrive home I’m faced with the dual enthusiasms of the baby crawling toward me and you bounding back and forth, wagging your tail like a windmill.  I look at each of you, and I pick up the baby.  And you are manic with joy and anticipation, your body saying, “I am so excited to see you!  I am so excited that you are home!  I am down here!  Look at this ball!  I have missed you all day!  Please please look at me!”  It literally breaks my heart that I cannot pick up both of you at the same time.  I try to hand off the baby and pet you within a minute or so, but I always feel like I have broken a little bit of your heart as well.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 9

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3.  I’m sorry that the baby is allowed to grab your blue rubber ball or your rope toy whenever he wants but that you get into trouble when you chew through one of his wooden blocks.  I’m sorry for every time I say, “Tig, gentle!” or “Tig, calm down!”  I’m sorry that he pulls on your ears and grabs hold of the fur on your face and yet, when you try to break free by licking him, we shout, “Tig, stop licking!”  It’s a giant double standard.  I want to rationalize it by saying something like, “Yes, but you have big teeth and sharp claws,” but if I’m going to be totally honest with myself, I have four different scratch and bite marks on my face and arms and you are not responsible for any of them.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 4

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4.  I’m sorry that you didn’t get as much exercise this winter because it was “too cold to be outside with a baby” and that I’d spend twenty minutes bundling him up for a fifteen-minute walk outside.  I’m sorry for the times you would wander over to smell some pee on a curb or fence post and I’d say, “Tig, come ON.”  A few different times I’ve had the thought, “I wish I could stop time so that I could take you out for a leisurely three-hour walk and you could smell all the pee and sniff all the discarded takeout containers you want.”

theuglyvolvo dog open letter

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5.  I’m sorry that some mornings I can either take the baby to Gymboree at the 8:30 open-gym time or take you to the dog park early so that there are still dogs there, and I take the baby to Gymboree.   Whenever the dog park is empty I find myself wishing we had a second dog so you could play with it.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 0

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6.  I’m sorry that sometimes I can tell you have to pee but I can’t take you outside because the baby’s sleeping and I can’t leave him alone in the apartment while I go out to take you for a walk.  That is one of the rules of having an apartment.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 1

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7.  I’m sorry that the two times in your entire life that you pooped in the house I LOST MY FREAKING MIND OVER IT, and yet every other day the baby sh*ts on the floor while urinating all over my bathrobe and I just sort of sigh and walk listlessly out of the room.  I do not yell at the baby and point to his poop and say “No!”

I am sorry, I am sorry, I am sorry.  I absolutely know how totally unfair this seems.

tig poop

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8.  I’m sorry that once in a while I have a day where it’s 7pm and Jonathan goes, “Hey, has either of us fed Tig?” And you look up from your dog bowl, where you’ve been politely standing for fifteen minutes, waiting for one of us to realize that we haven’t fed you.  The baby cries for a bottle and Jonathan and I run like lunatics to prepare it and yet you politely check in on your food dish every thirty minutes to see if we have put anything in there, unbelievably patient with our incompetence.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 8

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9.  I’m sorry that sometimes I put the baby down for a nap and I can tell you want to play but I just don’t have the energy.  I want SO BADLY to have the energy, but I just do not have it.  In a perfect world we would live on a giant piece of land where you could run around and play with dogs or other animals whenever you wanted, but that is just now how things are at this point.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 5

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You’re so good, Tig.  You’re such a sweet, well-behaved dog.  And that’s why I feel terrible so much of the time.  Because you deserve to have all the things you want.  You deserve to go to the dog park early while there are still dogs there, and you deserve the right to sniff where some dog has peed on a signpost and to sniff it leisurely, without being hurried along because I am carrying groceries and have a one-year-old strapped to my chest in a carrier.  You deserve attention and love and someone who has the time to give you those things whenever you need them.

And I’m sure someone’s already thinking, “If she feels this bad about her dog, wait till she gets a load of having a second kid.”  And I know that.  I know that that will also be impossible and heartbreaking.  I’m very lucky to have anything to love or anything that loves me back.  The thought that I’m hurting someone who cares for me is painful.  I sit around all the time trying to think of ways to make it better.

Which brings me to the end of my list:

10.  I’m sorry that dogs cannot read.  If you could read, Tig, you would type in the URL of my website and go, “Oh my gosh, a post about me!”  And you would read through my list and get a little sad.  And you would admit that yes, this year has been really hard on you.  And quietly, you would say, “I’m touched.”

But you cannot do any of those things, Tig, because dogs cannot read letters, open or otherwise.  I cannot make it up to you by saying I’m sorry.  I’m not sure I can make it up to you at all.

But know that it kills me, at the end of the day, to see you sitting politely next to my bed while I lie on the mattress, trying to get writing done on my laptop.  Which is why– you know that “No dogs on the bed” rule that we have so strictly enforced for the past three years?

I love you, Tig.  I’m breaking it.

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 3

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If you enjoyed this post, please like The Ugly Volvo on Facebook.   Or follow me on Twitter.  Or (if you are feeling ambitious) follow the blog and you’ll get notified once a week or so when I post a new entry.    

Also, I have an essay out in this book, which comes out tomorrow.  If you would like to buy it, you can totally buy it.  It is a compilation of funny essays by various mom bloggers.  If you don’t want to buy it but want to buy some other book, Tenth of December by George Saunders was good.        

theuglyvolvo dog open letter 6

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113 Responses to “An Open Letter to My Dog After the Birth of my First Child”

  1. lorispahn

    this almost made me cry. I have a 19 yr old, an 18 yr old, and a 13 yr old. And 3 dogs. And a cat. And a husband. It is hard to get all that petting and loving and attention divvied out where it’s needed every day. I feel your pain. (So, sadly, I’m letting you know: it ain’t gonna get any better………….)

    Reply
    • Casey

      me too! I’m about to have my first baby and get scared of this very post because of my REAL first fur-baby hahaha… this is literally my future. 😥

      Reply
      • Myasara

        Well then do better than she has done. I found this post criminal. Saying “sorry” does not absolve her of the lack of necessary attention. It’s not as though she’s cutting his park time our walk time short, sometimes she’s not taking him at all. And forgetting to feed him? There’s no excuse for that.

  2. kristen

    I don’t even have children yet, I’m just busy with business. The guilt is always real. Totally cried the sappy years while my little furry dudes are asleep next to me. They’re the best friends humans could ask for.

    Reply
  3. i love dogs and babies

    Seems like you shouldn’t have a dog anymore. Give him to someone that will give him the love he deserves, so that you can give your baby the time he deserves and no one feels guilty about it.

    Reply
    • chelseasnell97

      That is an awful idea.!!!!!!!! How could you even suggest that? He’s not “JUST A DOG”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He’s like family. That’s what all pets are. FAMILY! At least they should be. :/

      Reply
  4. Claire

    The beauty here my friend, is that you will never have to say sorry to Tig. Thats just how they (dogs) are. Loved reading some of your blogs tonight.

    Reply
  5. anoblemystery

    Oh my, this made me cry. My two dogs are my babies, and I would never want them to feel otherwise. My husband and I joke that when we eventually have children, we will need to take turns babying all of them…easier said than done.

    Reply
  6. Jadwal pertandingan timnas

    It is hard to get all that petting and loving and attention divvied out where it’s needed every day. I feel your pain. (So, sadly, I’m letting you know: it ain’t gonna get any better…

    Reply
  7. Kika Wintermute

    Indeed I know that Tig forgives you every single day for your “petty” sins! Otherwise she would have packed up and moved out. I guess Tig, in her dog logic, feels that once baby #2 comes along you will treat baby #1 just like you treat Tig now. Then, Tig will have baby #1 all for himself… finally a play pal. 🙂

    Reply
  8. grad.nauseam

    I have two dogs, am expecting my first baby in 3 weeks and this has me in tears. I am heartbroken over how they won’t understand this huge change that is coming, but somehow comforted by the fact that YOU, random internet stranger, understand. So thank you for writing this.

    Reply
  9. happydogowner

    really cute post and well written but I have a new baby, a large dog and a cat. but I’m sorry…here goes…my dog goes to the dog park everyday. if it’s colder than -30, I walk her at a pet store indoors. most of the times I take her but sometimes I have a dog walker to take her. I know its work to take baby and dog outside (I’ve done it hundreds of times) but it’s good for baby and really good for mama. It would take me sometimes 30 minutes plus to leave the house and go out in -20. when my son was 4 months old, I broke my arm. I still got the baby and the dog out for a walk with one arm in the winter. if you don’t have time, pay someone to take him. I’m sure if you put up a note in your apartment someone would probably walk your dog for free. if our baby is crying for something and I’m with the dog, the baby waits as he needs to learn that he is not the only being on this planet and learning patience is not a bad thing for little ones. Also, I feel that if we treat our dog well our son will grow up learning to treat animals with respect. I’m sorry to hear you make up a ton of excuses of why your dog doesn’t get the attention he needs. I think you can make it up to him starting today.

    Reply
  10. Nan

    Oh this made me cry. We don’t have kids but my dog does all of these things when I’m on my laptop and I can only imagine… give Tig a pat for me 🙂

    Reply
  11. JayZee

    Oh, I’m just sitting here crying. Dogs are such special creatures, so full of love and forgiveness. I’m sure he knows you love him dearly, and that are doing better than you think! Also, I’m not sure if your apartment has any rules on how many pets, but you may want to consider getting a playmate for him! I honestly find two dogs to be the same amount of work as one!

    Reply
    • theuglyvolvo

      it’s too hard not having a car and having two dogs, but she has a dog down the street that she loves so I try to arrange as many playdates as possible. 😉 But oh man, if we get a car someday a second dog is not far behind 😉

      Reply
  12. Lorie

    This is my life. We have two dogs and our son is just over a year. And that first year was hard. But probably hardest on our dogs.
    I’m glad you broke the rules. We break rules for them here and there too;)

    It’s hard when you can’t tell the dog that it will be okay and them comprehend.
    We flew from Hawaii to FL with our biggest dog and it was rough leaving him at the airport and not seeing him for 12hrs, I would have given anything to be able to have him understand what was going on.

    Anyway. Good for you and making things work. It’s not easy.
    People have told us to get rid of our dogs but that will never happen. You can’t explain to a dog that they are going to a home that can “give them the attention they need” they see it as abandonment and that is the unlimate heartbreak for them.

    Reply
  13. Rachael Mae

    Oh, the tears. I often feel inadequate when it comes to giving love and pets to my two cats and I DON’T EVEN HAVE A BABY!

    Reply
  14. justmejennmarie

    So glad Tig is getting to snuggle with you in bed. That makes up for tons of lost time. The fact that you feel sad means you care, and that’s a great thing. Hang in there!

    Reply
  15. Animal Culture

    I read this through tears forming in my eyes.

    This was a very heartfelt post. Don’t worry, he loves you unconditionally (one of the best things of “mans best friend”), and you just being in his life makes up for all those moments when you didn’t have the time.

    We’ve all been through this.

    Thanks for sharing! Made my day! 🙂

    Reply
  16. magwood

    I can so relate to this, even though my first born is 31! It never changes though, there are always reasons to feel guilty.

    Reply
  17. catherinemryan

    I feel every single one of these. Personally, though, the worst is when I come home with my baby and our dog, Finn, is losing his mind because he’s so excited to see us. And I quickly pet him a few times only to get my daughter out of the car seat and into the nursery as quickly as possible so I can get her down for a nap. And I shut the door in my poor dog’s face so she can go to sleep. It’s awful. But I feel lucky to have so much love in my life, even if I can’t actively reciprocate my dog’s adoration 100% of the time.

    Reply
  18. Corinne Sawaya Martch

    I have a 10 year old beagle, an 8 year old daughter, a 7 year old cat, and a 6 year old daughter. We have lived in many different kinds of dwellings in their lifetimes. The apartments were definitely the hardest!! When you have a house/yard, it is so much easier to feel like you are spending time with everyone and that everyone is happy. It helps that beagles act like toddlers and never patiently wait for anything (dinner time happens when Dixie is knocking her ceramic bowl all over the tile kitchen floor – you don’t feel guilty when your dog acts like a little shit lol) and cats just can’t be bothered 🙂

    Reply
  19. Jessica

    I feel sorry for your dog! His life is so short and he now will be only able to have very few moments of attention and happiness until he goes to dog heaven. Heart breaking!

    Reply
  20. chelseasnell97

    I am crying so bad… like snot ever where kind. This is a lot like what I would write to my dog because I have gotten do busy with school lately. :”””””””””'(

    Reply
  21. JezziLeigh

    I am new to the blogging community and stumbled upon this by accident. What a beautiful letter and tribute to your dog. I cried like a baby. I feel this same way about my little old dog and my puppy. A dog’s love and loyalty are so pure, I’m sure he knows how much you love him!!

    Reply
  22. Allen

    I also remind myself that you will not be with me anywhere as long as most of my closest, dearest, most trusting, loving and patient friends – and that someday the day will come when I will miss you terribly.

    Reply
  23. Dogs Hate Depression | Creative Madness

    […] with his leash. It looked a little like this photo I nabbed from a very funny blogger on her page, The Ugly Volvo. (Her dog, Tig, is suffering from a decline of affection since the new baby arrived. It’s a […]

    Reply

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