I was reminded this week that Vampbaby is not the only child my wife and I care for and love dearly. The other is our first child — the one that came into our lives before we were married and has stayed with us ever since. I am referring, of course, to the family dog. Given that the average dog has the attention span of a 5 year-old, the comparison to parenting is certainly appropriate.
Our pup was a shelter dog; a lab/german shepherd mix that we connected with instantly upon meeting. Our pooch has always been treated like a child by us — he goes everywhere that we do (as our families can attest, having included him on the guest list of many a holiday party) and he is doted on constantly. He also served as good practice for two young people planning one day to become parents to an actual human being.
Bringing a second child into the family was just as big for him as it was for us. We read what we could about bringing a new baby into a home with a dog, and followed the recommendations to the letter. The hat our newborn wore after he was born was brought home for the dog to “get to know”. When Vampbaby arrived at home, we brought our beloved canine friend out to the car to meet him, rather than having the new bundle invade his space. While this process seemed to work, it has certainly been rough on our “top dog” to be relegated to number two in the “New World Order”. He has, however, taken it in stride, and has been patient and kind with both us and the new addition. Of course, now that Vampbaby is walking and able to reach for him, he’s not quite as amused, but he tolerates the fur-pulls with a certain heroic stoicism.
The comparison of having a dog to having a child is clear this week by looking at our wallets, which have gone empty upon news of a very expensive vet visit, and the need for subsequent surgery to address a broken tooth. For a dog of almost 11 years of age, ours has been the picture of health, but the broken tooth threatens to become infected and must be dealt with. This will set us back several dollars (to say the least), so once again we look to creative budgeting, ebay sales and work-related mileage reimbursement to get us through.
Of course, there’s also the funds we’ve expended saving the lives of the fish in our fish tank, who fell ill after the city decided to mess with the chemical makeup of the town’s water. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise — caring costs.