Friday, July 13, 2012

Hey, Jealousy

Hello again, world.  So, after the birth of our first child, Grace, four months ago, my brain has finally emerged from the haze of sleep deprivation enough to consider writing.  Still, as anyone who has experienced parenthood knows, life with a newborn is life lived in fragment sentences.  Literally and figuratively.  Laundry goes unfolded, showers get cut short, dinner gets half-cooked...  And that’s why it’s taken me weeks to write this, my first postpartum entry (not kidding, and much longer if you consider how long I’ve been thinking about writing it).        

Exhibit A
There's a lot I could say about these past four months, but one of the most frequent questions we get asked is, “How does Izzy do with the baby?”  To answer this, I give you Exhibit A: the picture to the right.  In the image, Grace is a few weeks old and is wearing an “I love Izzy” onesie, a custom gift from a good friend (shout out, Jenny K!).  Adorable, right?  But what’s even more adorable is that Izzy is licking her pudgy little cheek as Grace holds Izzy’s chin in her hand.  Upon first glimpse, anyone would let out an instant “Awwwww,” thinking that the two are already BFF’s.  But it’s the story behind the picture, the fact that Izzy would barely stay on the couch long enough for the photo or that there was a large amount of treats involved, that reveals the true answer.
You see, from Izzy’s perspective, she came home four months ago from a week at her favorite doggy paradise, Greyland, only to find that her world had been turned upside down.  Her room had been rearranged—most notably Her Couch moved—to accommodate some kind of holding device for a small, wiggly creature who made an awful lot of high-pitched noises and who, for whatever reason, Mom and Dad could not stop holding or staring at.  That was just the beginning of the neglect.  If and when she did get taken on a walk, she had to trot beside a device with wheels that for some reason couldn’t go in the grass and let her chase every squirrel and scent she desired.  And playing with the screaming monkey after 8:00 at night?  Forget it.  That might wake The Creature.  For the same reason, late-night snuggle sessions on Her Couch, which now shared the room with That Thing, promptly came to a close.  She quickly figured out that her best strategy for getting a little rubdown or pat on the head was to plant her 65-pound self in the middle of every pack of visitors that came to the apartment.  And if she was especially desperate, let the endless whining commence.

So I guess you could say that Izzy has reacted the way any “first child” does when the new baby comes home: insanely jealous.  Don’t be fooled by that picture.  Adorable as it is, it's a product of luck and jerky bites.

Back when I was still pregnant, people would ask if we were going to get rid of our dog when the baby came.  I was always shocked when I got the question, but now that I’ve been in the trenches for a while, I understand it.  Dog ownership, like everything else in your world, changes when you become a parent. No question about it.  There’s only so much of your time and energy to go around, and if you care at all about your dog, a constant cloud of guilt about neglecting your beloved animal will hover over you.  But don’t worry.  We’re definitely not getting rid of our sweet greyhound.  In fact, she’ll be getting a yard of her own when we move into a house next month, and hopefully, another greyhound friend will join the family soon to keep her company.  We’re hoping these changes will take the edge off of her jealousy and boredom while we all get adjusted to this new life.  In the meantime, when we’re not cleaning bottles, washing burp rags, or bouncing our baby to sleep (yes, she has to be bounced to sleep on an exercise ball, but that’s a whole different blog), we try to give our attention-starved dog a little love each night with a game of hide-and-seek or a belly rubbing session.

I’m still not giving up on the vision of our daughter and Izzy becoming buds one day, running around the yard and getting into all sorts of human-canine trouble.  And who knows?  Maybe eventually, I’ll be able to take a picture of the two of them together, no treats necessary.    

Monday, January 30, 2012

Greyhound Mythbusters: Energy

One of the most common questions we get from people who are curious about greyhounds is, “Don’t they require a ton of exercise?”  The answer is the first in my series of Greyhound Mythbusters, my attempt to convince you that your next family pet should be an adopted greyhound. 

Couch Time
True, they’re the fastest dogs in the world, but there’s a reason why they’ve been nicknamed “45 mph Couch Potatoes.”  Overall, greyhounds are la-zy, and our Izzy is no exception.  If she were to write a book, it would be titled The Art of Lounging, for that’s what she does best.  When left to her own devices, she’ll spend the majority of her day curled up on the couch, only changing positions a few times.  In fact, I would estimate that she sleeps an average of 18 hours a day (and I thought I needed a lot of sleep!).  I used to be concerned that if there were such a thing as doggy depression, Izzy had it.  But when I asked her former foster mom about her sleeping habits, Barbara said not to worry: “a lazy greyhound is a content greyhound.” 

Sure, Izzy looks forward to her daily walks, but it’s more to stretch her legs and exercise her mental powers by sniffing the world than anything else.  A daily sprint around the track?  Nope.  Doesn’t need it.  In fact, when given the opportunity to really open up at the dog park, she’ll only let it fly about half the time (but believe me, when she does, it’s a glorious sight).  I’ve officially given up all hope of turning her into a running buddy—dragging a dog through the majority of a 3-mile run doesn’t make for a good workout. 

Okay, at the risk of making my dog and all greyhounds sound like a real drag, I’ll stop there and say that what they lack in energy, they make up for with their sweet, calm personalities and loyalty.  The point is if you’re looking for an amazing family dog that doesn’t require a daily 10K or two-hour romp session at the dog park, consider the greyhound.  And if you’re not looking for a dog right now… well perhaps we could all take a note from the greyhound and spend our next free day doing nothing.  After all, when’s the last time you can say you spent 18 hours relaxing on the couch?    

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Clinger

To anyone who’s seen the movie Wedding Crashers, the phrase “Stage 5 Clinger” may evoke images of a redhead with an irritating laugh who desperately throws herself at single men.  But I’m here to argue that as far as human-canine relationships go, a clingy dog is not such a bad thing.

Lately, it’s as if Izzy senses that her time as our “only child” is coming to an end.  And she’s right—only three months to go until Baby G arrives!  If dogs can sense that a storm is coming or that danger is nearby, surely they should be able to pick up on changes in the mother somewhere along the 9-month journey of pregnancy, whether it’s her growing belly or the scent of increased hormones (I have no idea if hormones have a scent, but if they do, dogs would be able to smell them, right?).  At any rate, I believe Izzy has picked up on something because she’s turned into a Stage 5 Clinger.

Loyalty is a trademark characteristic of all dogs, but greyhounds are known for getting fiercely attached to their human companions.  Izzy has always been a typical grey in this way—sticking close to our sides at the dog park and often following us from room to room as we go about our daily business at home.  But lately, Izzy spends most of our nights together imitating Velcro—the really sticky kind.  The fact that she doesn’t wear a collar around the house increases the eeriness of this behavior; she turns into Shadow Dog who silently appears by our side as we chop an onion in the kitchen, fold laundry in the bedroom, eat dinner at the table.  To reference another movie here, she reminds me of the creepy butler in Mr. Deeds who simply appears in each scene and says things like, “I am very, very sneaky,” in a thick Transylvanian accent.  Except that when Izzy does it, it’s adorable.  Whether her ears are sweetly tucked back in submission or perked up in curiosity, it’s always clear that she just can’t get enough of her people.
 
In a few short months, all of our lives, including Izzy’s, will change in an irreversible way.  There’s no doubt in my mind that our canine companion has figured this out and is trying to make the most of our days together—the “way things were.”  Thankfully, this hasn’t translated into annoying antics that drive us crazy.  For Izzy, it has simply meant quietly demonstrating her unconditional love for us on a daily basis.  I’m sure I can’t fathom the kind of love we’re about to have for our baby, but I’m also sure that this love won’t always be reciprocated (especially if he/she is anything like me during my teenage years!).  In those moments, I’m sure it will be nice to have a Stage 5 Clinger around, validating the worth of our existence... even if it is in the form of a dog.