Friday, July 07, 2006

Such a Homely Dog

My father came up this week to help my husband install a new handrail for the stairs. The previous handrail was a metal monstrosity featuring blinking neon lights saying "crawl through here" and "get your head stuck here." We think it was original to the house (40 some years old) and had apparently last seen maintenance upon installation. We now have a lovely oak stair rail that is woefully lacking in openings large enough for puppies or babies to fit through. While my father was here, he commented that he's really starting to "get" the fact that he's going to be a grandfather. I understand that the men in our lives have no little somethings sleeping on their bladder, jazzercising at 4:30 am, or considering the location where their lungs used to be a great vacation home but still, why does it take them such a long while to figure out that pregnancy actually does generally result in a baby?

I have recently begun to get anxious that I won't like my baby. What if I don't think the baby's cute? What if the baby has some weird birthmark? Can you really like a little being that wakes you up every 1.5 hours? What about when the kid turns 6. I don't tend to enjoy kids between 6 and 10. There have been some that I've liked but, on the whole, not my favorite developmental period. Since logical thought and the fact that most parents seem to like their kids most of the time seems to be making nary a dent in my newest pregnant lady worries, I decided to look to my dogs.

Before we got Penny I wasn't really a dog person. Dogs were ok but not pivotal to my life's happiness. Within a day of bringing her home, I was a total mush pot. Within 6 months of bringing her home, I started making her homemade puppy treats and recovering pillows for her use. I paid attention to how long I was out for and took walks in pouring rain. However, Penny is an incredibly cute dog. She is about 35 pounds making her a nice comfortable size. She has this lovely, fluffy coat and warm brown eyes. She is the sweetest dog you could imagine. When I take the dogs for walks, everyone wants to pat Penny. Unfortunately, during the 10 weeks or so that she was on some random person's farm as a wee puppy she was not astoundingly well treated and is quite shy. Enter Shirley. Shirley is generally the second choice for pats but is so very enthusiastic about being patted that everyone winds up patting her while Penny backs away.

When I found Shirley at the humane society she was quite the homely dog. She was an old dog- at least 10. She had horrible breath. She was overweight. She had dandruff and a bare spot on her tail, probably from chewing at fleas. She had had a stroke that left her face lopsided. She smelled. Her coat tended to be greasy and thin. She was also a little on the crotchety side and had arthritis that made her less that sprightly. She's sort of deaf and sort of blind and lacked "cognitive stimulation" in her previous homes. However, she had somehow managed to be brought into 3 previous homes and though a series of unfortunate events was looking for number 4. It took a little while for her to meld into our home. When she first came, she didn't realize that there were treats, soft spots to nap, pats, and attention for all and thought she needed to compete for them. She was housetrained but her manners needed some work. It took a while for good food, regular grooming, and a healthy home to take care of her weight, skin, insecurities, and coat. But still, I liked Shirley from the beginning. She's a small beagle, which works to her advantage and she's very people oriented. She doesn't totally understand other dogs but people, she knows. She will follow you around; "talk" to you; nap with you. When you get up in the morning or home in the evening you are greeted with enthusiastic "full body wags" and delighted yodels. It took a while for all this personality to show but, from the beginning, I liked her. When we're on walks, Shirley isn't the one everyone wants to pat but she's the one everyone winds up patting. She isn't the cute one but winds up being liked anyway. She took a while to get used to Penny and would break my heart but I stuck it out and kept her anyway (the fact that Penny outweighs her, is younger by 10 years, and that Shirley has almost no teeth helped a lot). I remember all this at 3 am when I'm worried about liking the baby. It seems to me that if I could like this homely dog, surely I will like my own baby.

We're traveling for the next week. See you on my return...

1 comment:

Mrs. Flinger said...

Oh, you so remind me of me when I was pregnant with LB. I remember thinking that exact same thing. "Will I love her? What if I don't?"

I know EVERYONE tells you this, but you will. Of course you will. And, here's a big dark secret, you will but if PPD hits you hard, you might not at first. And the things is? That's normal, too. But I swear, all those cheesy things about never loving anyone as much as you love your kid is all totally true. I swear. :-)