Tuesday, October 12, 2010

It's a Dog's Life

Those of you who know us well have probably been wondering when I was going to mention the other member of our family, the P dog. Until J arrived she was our "baby" and the newest member of the family turned her little world upside down. I had no intention of adopting a dog but was doing volunteer work at a shelter a few years ago when I came across a scrappy, beaten up little thing that looked like a cross between a huski and a badger. I walked into her cage, she rolled over and put her head in my lap and my heart was hers. I signed the adoption papers five minutes later and then had to work out how to tell my husband we were now dog owners.

We were a couple with a lot of love to give, and she was a broken animal in need of TLC; it was a match made in heaven. We overcompensated for her rough start in life by spoiling her rotten, and there was no hesitation when it came to bringing her with us when we moved to HK. She has adjusted well to life here and is a completely different dog to the one I found that day at the shelter, even if she is still a little funny looking. We knew that having a baby in the house would be a big adjustment for her and we planned to make some changes before J arrived, to ease the transition for the dog. We were much stricter and she was no longer allowed to sleep on our bed or have the run of the house. The first day she responded by hiding under the bed for hours but after a couple of days she seemed resigned to the fact that a new regime was here, it was as if she knew she'd had it good and had been expecting the change all along. Friends with dogs warned me that I wouldn't have much time for the dog once the baby arrived, and told me that I would probably lose my patience pretty quickly. I found that almost impossible to imagine and I swore that I would still love P just as much and would never neglect her.

Then we brought J home and we were so busy all our training and promises to P went out the window. She took advantage of our sleep deprived state and started sneaking up onto the bed in the middle of the night, she jumped up on visitors and barked at anyone within a 2km radius of the house. We tried to give her a little bit of attention every day but there were days when I had battled for hours to get J to sleep, and the thought of having to attend to the needs of another small creature was more than I could bear. She has woken him up on a few occasions and I have often contemplated turning her into a nice pashmina. She was again evicted from the bedroom recently, much to my husband's disgust. He doesn't believe it's fair to make "our daughter," as he refers to her, sleep in the study. Since we don't let J sleep in our bed I think it's a no-brainer.

When it comes to the baby/dog dynamic, we've had to work hard to placate the dog with treats and rewards whenever we show J a lot of attention. It's gotten to the point now where she wakes us up or makes a fuss when she hears him wake up. She still doesn't seem overly keen on him but he adores her. It's his first case of unrequited love. P was quite put out when J started crawling and could chase after her, and she had no idea what to think when he started growling at her! He thinks it's hilarious when she barks and he encourages her by shouting out something resembling "woof." Now that she realises he's not going to hurt her, and that standing under his highchair at dinnertime is highly beneficial, she's starting to come around.

Watching them together is quite sweet most of the time but I have to admit I do find myself losing my temper with the dog more often. She was sick last week and it was like having two children, it was that much work. On the weekend I had to look after them both by myself, which was fine, until the dog rolled in something disgusting while we were out walking and I had to bath her while trying to convince J to go down for a nap. For the rest of the morning I locked the dog between the two gates on the stairs as silent punishment, it was like a doggy version of purgatory.

I'm really looking forward to the day when J is old enough to walk and play with the dog and I won't have to worry about either of them, until then it's a delicate balance between keeping the baby safe, the dog happy and me sane.

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