It only takes a kid to take a dog from man’s best friend to man’s inconvenient chore.
I love my dog and always will. She is an eight-year-old beagle named Lilly. She likes long walks on the beach, really any terrain, especially ones where she leads and can follow her nose to something delightfully disgusting.
She likes to eat bones, people food, things that aren’t food but she still digests, things that aren’t digestible but still apparently worth a shot, and the occasional- nay, daily- yard turd. But she rarely goes for other dogs’ deposits so please don’t let that soil your impression of her.
The truth is, Lilly used to be the apple of our eye. We’d let her up on the couch, take her to the dog park, and even get her vaccinated. They were rich times.
Then we had a kid and it all changed.
That is, everything changed but her expectations. I could see in her big, sad beagle eyes she was incredulous she couldn’t get away with all the stuff she used to. And if she so much as snarled at the baby, she was promptly corrected with demonstrative “NOs” and our most convincing “bad girl” faces.
The thing is, when you’re trying to placate a screaming, crying, crapping, completely dependent homo sapien, it’s hard to find time to meet the canine’s needs.
Sure, we feed her and open the door for her so she can get some fresh air and not poo in our house. But dog parks? Forget it. Walks? Impossible to effectively handle a stroller while your olfactory-focused pooch obeys her nose and walks you.
But in many ways, the dog becomes just another part of the house. Like an ottoman. Or a fern. They become a fixation on the rug, a furry, lumpy, immovable obstacle we are destined to trip over. And when they are upright and wandering about, they must remind us of their needs since we are too distracted to anticipate them. They paw at their water dish or the back door as if to say, “Remember me, the other living thing in your house?”
We are tempted to feel bad about our pet’s new lot, not giving them the attention they once received. But we shouldn’t. I assure you, they are fine. The truth is, they are still doing better than 99.99% of animals on the planet.
Think about it. We have domesticated what should be a wild animal.
My dog lives inside a heated home and sleeps on a plush bed with a soft blanket draped over her. Meanwhile, her untamed relatives are curled up in a dirty den somewhere, with their only concern being staving off predators and hypothermia.
My dog wakes up and gets a bowl of safe food and cool water. If she was wild, she would have to go find, and catch, and kill, a squirrel. And if she actually snagged one that wasn’t rabid or carried some life-threatening disease, she might just save the tail and call herself Davy Crockett. She might.
Seriously, my dog gets a biscuit for sitting. Sitting gives wild dogs a chance to scratch their bugs.
Honestly, she is treated well by essentially any human who meets her. But when a wild animal gets up in our space, we are generally not cordial with it.
What I’m saying is, don’t feel so bad about what your pet is not getting. They’re getting a heck of a lot more than the zillion other creatures scraping by in the wild…even if she does have to fetch her own water.