I remember when my husband and I got our first puppy together, I considered myself a “dog mom”. Her name was Ava, she was a Boston Terrier, and I thought of her as my “baby”. When we were struggling to get pregnant, I had so much love to give and I needed something to nurture, so we ended up getting another dog, Toby. Toby is a Toy Fox Terrier/Jack Russell Terrier Mix. Where Ava was very calm, friendly, and happy, Toby is hyper, loud, and obnoxious. His personality was overwhelming to me as soon as we brought him home. It seemed like Toby and I were just on different wavelengths and we never really bonded the same way I did with Ava. My husband, on the other hand, did bond with Toby and they became two peas in a pod.
Fast forward to when I had kids. After having Rylie, my patience level was at an all time low. I was grouchy, quick to anger, got frustrated easily, and unfortunately, I did find myself taking my frustrations out on other people. My responsibilities just felt so overwhelming after becoming a mom and even the most minor inconvenience could cause me to spiral. Now, even though my husband, Ava, Toby, and I were a little family before the kids came, being a “dog mom” did at all prepare me for real motherhood.
Allow me to paint the picture of just how annoyed Toby would make me. Imagine I just got the kids down for a nap after a rough morning of crying/whining/fighting and it is finally my time to relax, close my eyes, maybe drink a luxurious HOT cup of coffee to reset and prepare for the afternoon ahead. But FedEx comes to deliver a package so of course Toby freaks out and goes crazy barking and jumping at the front window and the kids both wake up crying. Now, they have barely napped but since they did fall asleep for a few minutes, they are not going to go back to sleep so they are going to be cranky all afternoon. So instead of getting a nice break, I now get to deal with 2 cranky toddlers. Can you understand my frustration here?
It was like as soon as I had kids, the dog’s priorities and needs had to go on the backburner for me. It seemed like everyone in the house needed something from me at every moment of the day, and the dogs just added to that list. I started looking at them like they were just an inconvenience and didn’t focus on anything positive that they added to our lives. It was a really tough time for us all.
Then Ava got sick. She was older and has always had stomach issues but she started vomiting every single day and it was absolutely disgusting and honestly, the last thing that I needed to deal with. We took her to the vet and he couldn’t give us a straight answer on why this was happening so he gave us medicine and told us to switch her dog food but nothing helped. After weeks of her not keeping any food down and losing a ton of weight, the vet finally said it was time to put her down. It was really hard on all of us – after all, she was my “good dog” my first “baby” and we had to say goodbye. I remember feeling sad that I didn’t appreciate her enough in her final years because I was so focused on just getting through each day. We still have her picture up and we still talk about her all the time. She had an impact on all of us and the kids will always remember her as their first dog.
Even after Ava passed and I felt guilty for not appreciating her, I still had a hard time comforting and appreciating Toby. I would look around the house and just see more “chores” that Toby was causing – he shed, so I had to vacuum the couches and floors every single day, he had to be let out at the most inconvenient times, and every time I would have company he would be so desperate for attention that he wouldn’t leave my guests alone. All of those things might not seem like a big deal, but I was feeling so much stress that Toby’s needs just seemed like something I could not be bothered with.
Okay, now that I have gotten all of the negative feelings out in the open about how much Toby annoyed me for years and years, let me know talk about how I have overcame those. As I have talked about before, I recently went on Zoloft and it has been life changing. I am putting a lot of effort into focusing all of my energy on the positive things in my life, and one of those things includes Toby. He is still a pain in my ass, but honestly, he is a really good dog who just loves some attention. Once I started recognizing that and giving him some TLC, it was like we finally bonded. When the kids were younger, I would always feel “touched out” by the end of the day – meaning that the kids had been needing to be held or comforted all day and I just needed to sit and not be touched for the rest of the night. Now that the kids are older, I find myself cuddling with Toby at the end of a long day, and I can finally understand why dogs are called “man’s best friend”. I also notice the kids appreciating Toby more now that I pay attention to him, and it is so nice to see the love that they have for him.
So as hard as my journey has been after welcoming kids when I had 2 dogs, it was definitely worth it and I only wish I could have recognized how blessed I was sooner. Toby is an integral part of our family and I am happy that to say that. We are very lucky to have him as our dog.