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:

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.        

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