But he does annoy the crap out of me sometimes. I suppose I overlooked a lot of his neuroses before I had a child, but now I simply don’t have the time or the patience. Sometimes when I get home from work to find a giant dog dump on the kitchen floor, it’s that one last straw after a long, hard day, you know what I’m saying?
I wrote an essay in this week’s magazine that may turn some of you, my cherished and hard-won readers, against me. I’m already collecting hate e-mail, some of it so passionate and explicit that I’m sort of grateful for my employer’s post-9/11 security detail. The essay is about my dog. His name’s Hoover. He’s a basset. And he’s a pain in my ass.
But let me set the record straight. He’s also my dog. He remains my dog. None of you, no matter what you threaten, will take him away from me. He is 11 years old. He will grow increasingly odiferous and incontinent as the days go on. I know this. He will continue to pile up the infractions, as he did yesterday, when my little girl proudly proclaimed she had pooped all by herself in her portable potty–but when we went to inspect her achievement, we found he had gotten there first.
My poop-eating, projectile shedding, Xanax-needing dog will remain by my side till the day one of us drops. I don’t coddle him the way I used to before my child was born, but then again, I don’t treat my husband the same either. While we’re at it, I haven’t pampered myself in three years. My point is that everything changes once you have a kid: your job, your marriage, your relationship with your dog.
Judge me all you want. But I’m still the one who feeds him, brushes him and walks him. I vacuum his fur, I mop up his accidents and I pick up his poo from the curb with a plastic bag and my bare hands. This is the contract I signed when I made him my pet. And it’s one I won’t break. No matter what you call me.