In a lot of ways, having a baby around is good for the family pet. There are tons of perks: you get a new playmate who never gets tired, pets you all the time, and shares food. However, it's not all fun and games. This tiny new person is constantly all up in your grill and making god-awful smells and noises. When they're not testing the limits of your personal space, they're taking up the attention. My fur babies were here first, so I feel like there are some apologies I owe the family pet, now that I'm a mom.
I've had my American shorthair cat, Hank, for 13 years. He's been through it all with me — including heartbreak and happiness, love and loss — and is easily my emotional rock. (When my husband and I argue, he sits on me protectively). Sheriff is my 5-year-old mini-Schnauzer that I adopted in Honduras. He's been through quite a bit too, including surgery for eating rocks because he's a freaking moron. They are both very sweet and precious to me, so when I got pregnant I was naturally concerned about how this major change might affect them.
Lucky for me, both the cat and dog took to the baby right away. She's their baby. As she's grown and become more mobile, their patience has increased exponentially. Sheriff sits quietly while my toddler plays with the tags around his neck, intermittently tugging at them and kissing him on the head. When she gets upset during a diaper change or bath, the cat comes running to check on her. He rubs up on her cheek and marks her as his own.
They're pretty terrific animals. I think they must have a sixth sense about her so they tolerate her antics and have never once hurt her. It's not always easy putting up with a kid in the house, and for what it's worth, I'm sorry, guys.
Sorry About Your Tail/Ears/Paws
My daughter hears the word "gentle" a lot. Pets are irresistible. Most are of the furry variety, and they have all kinds of easy-to-grab parts. Tails are especially delightful, as they seem to have a mind of their own. Lucky Sheriff only has a little nubbin, so baby girl can't get a hold of it (his ears aren't so fortunate).
My daughter especially loves to f*ck with the cat's paws, which he hates. I have to put a sock over his head to trim his nails so he doesn't bite me, but he just runs away from her.
Sorry She Ate Your Food
I know that eating pet food is really bad for kids. It's unsanitary and can pose a choking hazard. However, try as I might, my child still manages to sneak a piece here and there. (The cat's food is behind a gate with the litter box because I really don't want her snacking on buried cat treasure, if you catch my meaning.)
I have to hand it to the dog, though. A lot of animals are territorial and have resource aggression. Not my little buddy. If his baby sticks her hand in his dish, he just backs away.
Sorry She's In Your Bed
There are two pet beds in our house, and my dog literally never gets to hang out in either during the day. The toddler likes to stomp around in there with him or sit in it and bury her head in the plushy goodness. (Also super sanitary.) This is especially unfortunate because the pets were no longer allowed on the furniture after we bought a new living room set (although the milk spilling crumb factory is).
The cat, being a cat, has his revenge. He can frequently be found snuggled up in the baby's very own fox arm chair, looking smug.
Sorry For The Chasing
Chase is a fun game for pets and babies alike, but sometimes pets are running to get away. This makes them even more desirable to the preschool set. My animals are pretty magnanimous when it comes to putting up with my kid, but her friends and cousins are another story. Birthday parties and summer barbecues are hours-long torture sessions for long-suffering Hank and Sheriff.
Sorry About The Halloween Costumes
I'm pretty sure my husband thinks I only wanted to have a baby for the family Halloween costumes, and I mean, he's not wrong. I love themed costumes. Our first Halloween as a family, we did Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Hubby was Leonardo, I was April O'Neil, Sheriff was Master Splinter, and the baby was a piece of pizza. It was glorious.
This year, we had a baby chef and her lobster. Sheriff was the saddest dog who was ever sad.
Sorry For Using You As A Vacuum
I'm not sure I should apologize because I'm pretty sure you love this part. I have tile floors, so when I serve something messy like rice, I just brush it onto the floor for the dog to clean up. This is not especially good for his health, as he is looking a little pudgy these days.
I may owe the cat an apology for that time the baby threw chili all over him and I let the dog lick it off him. As I told my husband, "You don't know! You weren't there!"
Sorry She Took Your Toys
I spend a good portion of my day repeating, "That's not your toy!" Sometimes it's the dog trying to eat one of the kid's stuffed animals. Other times, the child has absconded with a squeaky toy.
Sometimes, it works out really well, though. Sheriff quickly figured out that the toddler is a fairly good tug-of-war buddy, and she's just learning to throw balls for him.
Sorry For Yelling At You For Barking
Remember that one time you barked at the UPS guy during the baby's nap and I yelled at you that I would f*cking end you? Yeah, I'm real sorry about that.
Sorry I Never Take You On Walks
Let's be honest: I wasn't that great about the walking before the baby, but it was definitely more often than after. Once upon a time, we used to go to the park, and I would lovingly pick up the poop you had deposited on the grass. Not anymore, my friend.
I've definitely tried taking the dog on a walk with the baby in the stroller, and, frankly, I just don't have that many hands. (In hindsight, training my dog before baby came around would have been an excellent decision.)
Sorry I Don't Pay As Much Attention To You
Taking care of a little one full-time takes just about all my time and energy. Gone are the days of morning cuddle sessions with my beloved critters and hour-long play sessions at the dog park.
Things are different now, but I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you, and I promise to care for you all the days of your life and do everything in my power to keep the baby's finger out of your butthole.