Donâ€™t Forget the Pets
They say you never forget your first true love, and, lucky for me, I get to come home to him every night. His name is Busta, a long-haired Chihuahua with big brown eyes and an insatiable love of cheese.
We first met on a Friday evening eight years ago, and, without a second thought, he came home with us and changed our lives forever. We were one of those couples that brought our dog everywhere and made plans based on how long we would be away from him. The kind of people you probably rolled your eyes at and thought, “Don’t they know he isn’t a child?” The answer to that is “no,” he was our first child and taught us about unconditional love.
Busta is the “protector” of the house. He sits at the top of the stairs and looks out the window, barking at potential threats such as cars, people, squirrels, and falling leaves. Rocky came along four years later and, in true birth-order fashion, aptly plays the role of “baby.” He can always be found nestled next to a warm body or cuddled under a pile of blankets. He won’t walk on wood floors and is literally scared of his shadow. Owning two Chihuahuas means a life filled with lots of yips, yaps, and excuse making. Their social graces had earned them a bad reputation, and Hubby and I were running constant PR for Busta and Rocky.
For years, Hubby and I watched as our loved ones brought babies into their homes and the pets slowly descended to the bottom of the totem pole. We insisted this would not be the case in our home; we would find a way to keep our pups a priority. I spent a bit of time worrying about how they would react to the change but for the most part just trusted it would be okay. We arrived home with Micah that first day and found Busta in his favorite spot at the top of the stairs. We let him sniff the baby, but he wasn’t interested and resumed his endless barking. That night as Hubby held our snuggly swaddled newborn, Rocky took delight in the extra warm body and rested his head on Micah’s blanket. We continued on like this well into Micah’s first year. The dogs would sniff around at meal times, waiting for food to fall from the sky, but other than that, they weren’t really interested. Likewise for Micah, while one of his first words was “dog” and he loved pointing at them saying it over and over, he never wanted to get too close and showed no desire to touch them or worse pull their tails. Hubby and I made a point to give the dogs extra love and copious amounts of cheese during that first year, and all was well on the home front.
And then Micah started to crawl, then walk, and then run, and we couldn’t leave him alone for even a second. All that overcompensating we did in the first year fell to the wayside as Micah took up more and more of our time. During a routine grooming, Hubby noticed a growth inside Rocky’s mouth. When we brought him to the vet, they inquired about how long it had been there. I was embarrassed to say we hadn’t brushed his teeth in…well, I couldn’t even remember the last time. It could have been weeks, months, or maybe since Micah was born! A few weeks later, we noticed Busta was scratching at his fur more than usual. After careful investigation, we came to the humiliating realization that my once perfectly coifed pup had fleas. As I meticulously combed through Busta’s unkempt fur, I felt like I had just taken a cold shower. I was shaken to reality, and I wasn’t pleased with the truth.
I had become one of those pet parents. We had been warned, but we vehemently denied that it would happen to us. It didn’t happen overnight, but, sure as day, I couldn’t deny it, I had become one of them. Somewhere along the lines, I had become so enamored with my growing child that I forgot one little flea application and one annual veterinarian appointment and one (or maybe 5, who knows!) monthly grooming appointments. I tried not to spend too much time dwelling on how we got here and instead made immediate changes to avoid any future missteps.
My Google calendar now alerts me to do things like giving the dogs baths and dispensing medications. There is no reminder to give them long walks and lingering cuddle sessions, but my “mom guilt” takes care of that! This mom doesn’t make the same mistake twice—especially when there are fleas involved!