This post as originally published by the good people over at mamamia
I say fourth, because even though he came first (our much anticipated parental test run… Mutt-ernity if you will), as each of our children came along, as is the natural order of things, our dog shifted down a rung in the pecking order.
Wardrobe: classic minimalism. Fur coat daily. Even in summer.
Colour: mushroom velour.
Temperament: maximum energy or asleep.
Bred for: hunting bears. Intent on continuing this legacy by protecting his family from much beloved childhood teddy bears. One torn off leg at a time.
As the years have come and gone, it’s become increasingly clear that our Weimaraner is indeed more like our fourth (and possibly most demanding) child than our first pet.
OK, so it’s an obvious one. But both kids and dogs come with poo attached. Well maybe not atta… Actually yes, sometimes attached. As you can imagine, having twins brought with it a never ending stream of pooey nappies. As a mother, you are (mostly) immune to the nasal cavity clearing, core penetrating odour of your own child’s excrement. It’s like a small kindness afforded to you by Mother Nature. I’m not entirely sure the same can be said for your dogs outgoings. But, I wouldn’t know… Dog poo disposal is my husband’s field of expertise. Much like emptying the rubbish, taking the bins out, cleaning the gutters, spider and/or other insect removal…and so on and so forth. Contractual agreement.
But, stench aside, as with your children, it’s your dubious responsibility to clean up after your dog. In fact you probably have to do it more than you do for your kids. And it never ends. Children learn to use the toilet. As a dog owner you get the privilege of picking up your dogs poo for the tenure of his natural life. So who’s last in the pecking order again?
Trail of destruction
It’s a familiar tale of heartbreak and woe. 7am – house tidy (or with some semblance of order at any rate). 7:03am – house annihilated.
Toys you’re sure you’ve never even seen before form an obstacle course from the front of the house to the back.
Crumbs of unknown origin everywhere.
Apples with three bites taken out of them left in genius hiding places, like your shoe, to stumble upon at a later date, usually when you least expect it.
Unidentifiable green substance smeared across floor.
Highly valued leaf collection proudly displayed on the kitchen table, atop breakfast remnants.
And that’s just the dog.
Ha. Not really.
In all seriousness, Gibson the wonder dog does have a similar uncanny knack for leaving a trail of destruction in his wake. Left to his own devices, he can destroy the undestroyable, triumphantly find prized possessions we thought were permanently lost and then hide them again. We can return home after a ten minute trip to the supermarket to a deck full of small items and barely recognisable toys, retrieved from god knows where, all systematically chewed until they hardly resemble their former selves. Items we didn’t even know were THERE. Because, like our kids, Gibson doesn’t want the toys put out for him to enjoy. Too obvious. Rather, he opts for obscure items we’d prefer he didn’t have but that he somehow manages to find.
Unnatural ability to find chocolate
It became clear that life as I knew it was never going to be the same the very first time I bent down to talk to my small daughter straight after I’d snuck a tim tam, and she’d looked at me suspiciously and said “I smell…. Chocolate”.
This remarkable ability to root out the smallest whiff of even just a remnant of chocolate on someone’s breath exists in both my children, and probably our baby too, we just don’t know it yet. I can’t say I’m surprised, I mean I am their mother after all. But what caught me off guard was that this gift also exists in Gibson the wonder dog, three thousand fold. The force is strong with this one. Chocolate is, in large quantities, fatal for dogs (or so I’m lead to believe by the 24 hour emergency vet). Where is his natural survival instinct? Why does he seem to have a gut impervious to the perils of large quantities of chocolate (the only way to eat it). Forget an Easter egg hunt. The eggs will be gone before the children have so much as a chance at retrieval. Resistance is futile. No secret chocolate stash is safe.
Sleeping through the night
As a parent you relinquish any unrealistic notions you might have had of consistantly sleeping through the night for the years directly following the birth of your children. I can’t say I expected the same would be the case when we delved into the exciting new world of dog ownership. In fact, in our household, when it comes to sleeping through the night… The kids do it. The dog can’t. It’s untenable. Needs to go outside and stand in the yard and sniff things instead of weeing. Clause two of the marriage agreement. Husband, take dog out in the night to bark at trees and pretend he needs to go to the toilet.
Puppy dog eyes
Ok so Gibson the wonder dog has this one nailed. Obviously. It’s a niche market. But you just don’t think “mummy guilt” will extend to your dog. Don’t look at me like that, I’ll be gone for half an hour! I’m sorry! I love you too! Oh fine, you can come with me. And holidays? Forget it! Not unless they’re dog friendly. You can’t go on holiday and leave your children behind. That includes number four!
No matter what they do, you love them anyway
No matter how much poo is involved (or, indeed, attached), how much systematic destruction of your favourite things occurs; no matter how tired you are from not getting an uninterrupted nights sleep since 2010, no matter how much vomit ends up on your rug, no matter what they do. You love them immeasurably anyway. Kids AND wonder dog.
Gibson the wonder dog is the inspirational subject behind many of our favourite stories. He’s my constant (and I do mean CONSTANT) daily companion, our protector and our loyal friend. We adventure together, explore together and relandscape the garden together (although our desired design aesthetics tend to differ greatly). He loves us unconditionally, through thick and thin, and we him. He was our first responsibility other than ourselves; he taught us how to love despite poo and vomit and mess and never being able to go on holiday again. Sometimes he drives me so up the wall I wish he’d just get lost, but the truth is, we’re the ones who would be lost without him. Fourth child, first pet. Whatever you call it, we wouldn’t have it any other way. He’s ours and we’re his. And I didn’t want that cardigan anyway.