An Open Letter To Family Dogs (From A Family Dog)

About a year after we got married, Jon and I decided to embark on a new adventure together: dog-rearing. Bota was our first introduction to caring for another living being, and we kind of wanted to prove to ourselves that we could hack it with a dog before we tried it with a human.

For a good long while, Bota was the center of our nuclear family universe. Fast forward four years (and two children) later, and she has…well…succumbed to a new position in the family. To illustrate, this is how I found Bota when I entered the kitchen yesterday afternoon:

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The poor dog puts up with a lot. In fact, I think being the family dog must be one of the hardest jobs out there. So, in honor of Bota and all of the other hard-working family pets out there, I offer you a this letter. It is a letter from Bota to other dogs who might be considering the role of man’s (and childrens’) best friend. Enjoy. Or don’t. Just don’t put any more pool accessories the dog’s head.

Dearest comrades,
Congratulations! You have accepted the greatest calling of your life, that of a family dog. You are entering the ranks of the brave, the loyal, the always-faithful, the tough-skinned and the ever-patient. This is a role that comes with much honor, but with it comes much hard work. I want to encourage you in this journey but, to be fair, I feel I should also enlighten you about the road you are now facing.

You have already enjoyed your golden years. When you’re having a rough day, just remember how good you’ve had it up until now. You had one–maybe two–owners. You were their roommate, their confidante and their companion. You were treated not as an animal, but with the dignity and respect that is sometimes reserved for other humans. Actually, you were treated more like Hollywood royalty. With your frequent spa days and daily trips to the dog park, you often wondered how you got so lucky. Your “parents” bought you gifts on holidays and birthdays and for no reason at all. They planned puppy playdates for you in parks. They arranged doggy resort stays for you if they had to work late or leave town for the weekend. They would even let you ride in the front seat and buy you your own meal at the drive-thru.

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Life was good.

But now they have children–HUMAN children–and life will be different. The love and attention that used to be solely yours will now be shared with the human children. Do not be discouraged, though, because there will still be plenty of love to go around.

The human children will actually enjoy many of the same things you do! They like chasing after balls and will even try throwing balls for you sometimes (although most of them will end up in a bush or over a fence where you will never ever be able to find them again).

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The human children also enjoy exploring. They will be happy to tromp through a river with you and dig in the mud. They may even find a nice stick to throw for you (if they start hitting you with the stick, though, just run them over and pretend like you were playing a game).

IMG_6564The human children will create hilarious games for you to play together. My favorite is where they tell me there’s a squirrel in a tree–EVEN THOUGH THERE’S NOT!–just so I can run and jump and claw at the tree like I’m insane or something. It’s awesome.
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They will think it’s cute to do things like color you a poster for your birthday, even though you can’t read and don’t understand the point of birthdays.
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If you’re really lucky, your owners will feel bad that they’ve completely neglected you for the last year and will even bake you a cake for your birthday. They won’t let you eat it, though, because it’s made of chocolate (hypocrites). 
IMG_3518The human children will love you so much that they’ll even dress you up so you can look like them. Too bad they all look like homeless pirates.
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When the human children are away from you, they will miss you like crazy. In fact, they will insist on employing modern technology to get some face-to-face time with you (because you’re that awesome).IMG_7337

It’s tough work being the family dog, and at the end of the day you’ll probably be exhausted. It’s alright to take a moment for yourself.
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Because, at the end of the day, your job is one of the most important ones out there. You play with and entertain and endure, and love your family. The daily walks and the gourmet dog meals may be long gone (although, kids are a great resource for extra treats at the dinner table), but you have something so much better. You have a family.

For better or worse.IMG_3266

With my enduring love,
Bota

 

The Kids-or-no-Kids Quiz

When I was a teenager I enjoyed doing the quizzes that came in teen magazines. You know, quizzes that gave you answers to vitally important questions such as “What’s Your Best Prom Perfume?” and “Which Hunger Games District’s Nail Art Should You Try?” (real quizzes from this months’ edition of Seventeen Magazine, by the way). Now that I’m a mom I don’t have time for quizzes or magazines or reading, for that matter. But I still thought that it would be fun to put you to the test. This little quiz will reveal to you in 14 simple questions where you fall on the parenting spectrum. Just keep track of your answers as you go along and tally up the results at the end. I like to call this:

The Kids-or-no-Kids Quiz

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1. For lunch today you:
A) Dined in a classy restaurant with friends while sipping rose’.
B) Ate a nutritious kale and raspberry salad with high-Omega-3 salmon splashed down with a tall glass of milk.
C) Heated up leftover Mac ‘n Cheese…and reheated it 3 times before you had time to finish the bowl.

2. The Pandora radio station you have playing right now is:
A) Nicki Minaj Dance Mix–and you’re twerking when nobody’s watching.
B) Dave Matthews Band–how very grown-up of you.
C) Disney Family Radio–Nothing like a rousing rendition of “M-I-C-K-E-Y” to get you moving.

3. You are currently wearing:
A) Clothing that has the words “dry clean only” printed on the tags.
B) The latest outfit you copied off Pinterest.
C) Your pajamas…and it’s 2:00 in the afternoon.

4. The last time you handled someone else’s pee/poop/puke was:
A) OMG. Gross.
B) I emptied the bucket for my husband the last time he had the flu.
C) I don’t know–this morning? 5 minutes ago? RIGHT NOW.

5. The last time you had a date out with your spouse was:
A) We go out for drinks after work most nights and still make it to the club on the weekends.
B) Friday night.
C) 2012

6. The furniture in your house consists mostly of:
A) Beautiful pieces straight out of the Pottery Barn Catalog.
B) Ikea–affordable and practical.
C) Craigslist and Goodwill finds. The Pottery Barn stuff is in storage for the next 18 years and all of the Ikea crap broke.

7. If I were to look into your purse right now, I’d find:
A) A designer wallet and department store make-up.
B) A coin purse from your trip to Peru last summer and some Chapstick.
C) Baby wipes, a pacifier, 2 boxes of raisins, a used burp cloth, and a clean pair of size 3T underwear in case there’s an accident on your next public outing. But where’s my wallet…

8. Your idea of a vacation is:
A) Traveling to an exotic locale where you stay in one of those bungalows on stilts over pristine blue waters.
B) Somewhere close by–you’re saving up for a down payment on a house.
C) Walking the garbage cans out to the curb by yourself.

9. The best time of the day is:
A) When you leave work.
B) When your spouse gets home from work.
C) The hour or so between the kids’ bedtime and your bedtime.

10. When you see other peoples’ kids throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store you:
A) Roll your eyes and complain to a manager about the disturbance in Aisle 4.
B) Recall the discipline techniques you read about in That Parenting Book and wonder why these parents can’t seem to get it together. At least your future children will know well enough to behave when they’re out in public.
C) Run over to that poor, distressed mother and have a good cry with her.

11. The back seat of your car is:
A) Nonexistent. Why would you need a backseat in a sports car?
B) Empty, except for your yoga mat that you actually use 3-5 times a week.
C) Covered in smooshed raisins and pulverized Cheerios, has about a dozen assorted toys and books strewn about, and a hole in the seat-back where somebody is trying to dig out all of the stuffing.

12. The most important criteria in a restaurant is:
A) A great happy hour with a resident mixologist.
B) Great ambiance and amazing food worthy of a Food Network special.
C) Noisy, fun table-top kids activities, fast service, cheap.

13. The best part of the weekend is:
A) Sleeping in.
B) Sleeping in.
C) Having your spouse with you to share in the misery of not sleeping in.

14. The best thing you’ve ever heard is:
A) News that you just got that promotion at work.
B) That you’re pregnant!
C) Your child saying “I love you”.

Mostly A’s: No kids, no way
Kids are a far thought from your life. They’re loud, they’re messy, they’re inconvenient, they’re expensive. Pass. Enjoy your freedom while you have it, because chances are that it won’t last for long.

Mostly B’s: Dreaming of babies
You’re saving up money while cutting back your hours at work to see how you can make everything work on a tighter budget. You exercise and eat all of the right foods for a healthy womb. You chart your ovulation. You secretly read baby name books and watch A Baby Story on TLC. You are full of hope and optimism. Bring on the babies!

Mostly C’s: In the trenches of parenthood
Your family consists of at least one mini-me. You wake up most mornings feeling like you’ve been hit by a truck and the coffee can’t make itself fast enough. Your kids are loud, they’re messy, they’re inconvenient, they’re expensive. And, yet, you wouldn’t trade your life or your kids for anything.  You know that parenting is not clean or easy or in any way glamorous. Sometimes it’s not even fun. But it’s a job full of joy and love, and that makes it all worth it.