Tuesday, January 24
We should think through advice before we take it. No expert advice-giver is beyond reproach. If we’d only pause a moment to think, we might avoid calamity. Take, for instance, the advice we received concerning our firstborn, Annie-dog. We all knew it was going to be a huge shock to her when we brought Cannon home and she lost her only-child status.
For those who don’t know Annie, she’s our three year old Great Dane. She lives a charmed life, sleeping most of the time. When she’s not sleeping, she enjoys the most domesticated life a dog can have. She has spent about half the nights in her 21 dog-years sleeping on our bed (my side, drooling). She is the only dog in the extended family that gets to eat as much as she wants, anytime she wants, so when her cousins are visiting, they have to sit and watch as she eats in front of them. She has a high-pitched whine that is always tended to promptly. She won’t go outside to pee in the rain. She’s a beautiful dog, but I’m pretty sure she knows it. Anyway, Annie has it made.
Perhaps the best thing Annie has (or had) going for her is that for three years, she was the only child, the baby. Kris doted on her constantly- talking to her in a pouty, baby-voice, rubbing her itchy ears, taking her for walks, giving her treats. They had certain routines that were special. For instance, every time we went out, Kris would hold her pee so that she could go to the bathroom with Annie when we got home. Actually, I think Kris just prefers a familiar, clean toilet. But she did like to pee with Annie. Every time we came home from being out a few hours, Kris would let Annie out of her crate, then the two of them would go in the bathroom together. I think it was a special bonding time for them. I mean, I never enjoyed pee time with our dog. Or with Kris, for that matter.
Anyway, there has never been a stronger maternal bond between dog and master. After we drove the many hours to Oklahoma and gave the many dollars to the breeder to take Annie home, Kris held her in her arms in the passenger seat and said, “I just love her.”
So with a baby on the way, we sought advice on how to cushion the blow that would inevitably send Annie reeling. The experts suggested that we set aside a special blanket in the delivery room and use it to wipe off the baby at delivery. Then we could bring the blanket home with the baby’s scent and let Annie get used to the smell a couple days before bringing Cannon home. This sounded like a great idea, so we did it.
Why didn’t we think it through?!
Imagine you are an only child and your mother is the center of your world. One day in December, she jumps up for no reason and leaves in a rush, with no explanation. You try to remain calm, but you become concerned when she doesn’t return for days. Is she ok? She wouldn’t leave me- she must be detained! Could she be hurt? Then, your fears are confirmed when someone shows up at your house with a blanket covered in your mother’s blood. Would that make you excited to meet the owner of the blanket? No, of course it wouldn’t. It would freak you out, like in some mafia movie where the don sends you your bodyguard’s severed thumbs in a takeout box.
I’m sure Annie was relieved to see that her mother was alive when she came home from the hospital, but any feelings of relief were overshadowed by her fear of the stranger who sent her the bloody blanket warning message.
Eventually, fear turned to sadness as Annie realized that she was no longer the cat’s knees or even the bee’s pajamas. She has begun to realize for the first time in her life that she is a dog, not the Queen of Earth. I have tried to console her in my own way, scratching her ears and giving her bacon fat, but I fear Annie’s Paradise will never be restored. A telling moment occurred in her crate, when I came to visit her in the throes of depression. As I sat there petting her, Kris was in the next room changing the baby. As she cleaned his dirty butt, she began talking to him using the pouty, baby-voice she had been using exclusively with Annie for the past three years. I actually felt sorry for the dog as she listened to Kris speaking in this way to another creature. With every word, her head literally sank lower and lower. Sorry, Annie.
All I can do now is offer Annie my Love and Tenderness, hoping that in tandem with Time they will be enough to heal her broken heart (a la soft rocker Michael Bolton).