I don't think I'm weak by any stretch, but this four-legged stink machine has pushed me to the emotional brink of breakdown. I didn't have dogs growing up and I didn't realize how much work they are until I had one. Some people are a lot more laid back about pet ownership, but I was not used to being responsible for the well-being of anyone but myself, so I felt a huge weight of pressure when I realized this thing needed me in order to stay alive. I can't even keep plants alive. But here we are, nine years later, and somehow Benson is still doing his thing. Unfortunately, lately his things have been marking certain areas of the house, protesting against the baby's existence, and barking at all the wrong times.
I call this series of photographs Dog Spends All Day Hiding from Baby; Baby Has All the Time in the World.
Poor dude. He used to have it so good before we ruined it by bringing home this baby. I do love Benson as a living, breathing being, but he can be such a douchebag sometimes. And for that, I owe him much gratitude, because his absolute neediness and inability to clean up after himself has primed me for parenthood. I used to think it was a little silly when someone compared pet ownership to baby ownership, but I've got to be honest - there are some similarities.
My life before Hannah was kind of a vacation, and if that was my life before Hannah, my life before Benson was a vacation on the high clouds of heaven. I was my only responsibility, and I was very good at taking care of me. I usually did whatever me wanted! I liked me, because I made me happy on a daily basis. Benson took some focus off of me. Hannah took a lot of focus off of me. I think Benson was a fine segue.
Here's how my dog trained me:
- I learned how to wake up early to do things that weren't necessarily awesome, like feeding the dog at 6 a.m. and letting him out in the unkind elements. Similar to the baby wake up call, complete with the feeding and the changing of many unkind elements.
- Being the social creature that I am, I had to exercise some discipline and forego certain events (after work happy hours, for instance) and take care of a dog who is at home, twiddling his paws, awaiting my arrival. Hannah doesn't take "sorry I left you at daycare because I had to have a drink" as an excuse.
- Maintenance. You can't just have a dog. You have to maintain a dog. He's not going to cut his own nails and get his own shots. Similarly, babies need these same things done, and more often.
- I became responsible for the absolute health of another living/breathing being. If I'm not getting Benson his exercise, he's not getting it. Admittedly, I'm not as good at walking him as I should be. I need to get it together on that. And, I have to ensure Hannah is getting the exercise she needs.
- Adios, money. Dogs can be expensive. Babies are definitely expensive. Clothing funds become diaper funds pretty quickly.
- I got a lesson in letting go of control. Benson recently had a cancerous tumor removed. I have never felt so helpless in my ability to meet his needs. He needs to NOT have cancer. I can do nothing more than lean on the expertise of our vet and fork over money in an effort to save him. Hannah has been sick her whole life so far. Clogged tear ducts, ear tubes, eczema, permanently runny nose, cough, diarrhea, yada yada yada. I have done everything I can to keep her healthy, and I just can't seem to do it. That sucks. That sucks so bad. And that's where I'm at. Releasing it to God and praying that the doctors are doing their part. That's all I can do.