Let’s just get this out of the way: you’re a dog. And on top of that, you’re pretty stupid. The other night I asked your dad if he thought you were just somehow dumber than normal dogs, as you stared at me blankly after I yelled at you for the third time in five minutes for trying to eat food off the kitchen counter. He was pretty sure you are. You’re not Lassie or Beethoven or even that dog from Fraser. So, unless science devises some way for man and dog to better communicate, the chances that you’ll ever understand a single word of this letter are pretty slim.
Still, I’ve been feeling pretty guilty lately, and I need to get something off my chest.
Lola, I’m sorry. I’m sorry for not being a better dog mom to you. I’m sorry that 90% of our interactions consist of me telling you to get out of my face (even though, really, you need to get out of my face). I’m sorry you think you’re literally my third child, and don’t understand why you can’t have dinner at the table or go for rides in the car every day like your brothers. I’m sorry for the sadness in your sweet brown eyes when you realize we’re all going somewhere and you’re not invited.
Really, I’m just sorry I can’t be the mom you want me to be.
When we adopted you from PetSmart a little more than a year ago, I’m sure you thought you were getting a great deal. Today, you probably wish we would just take you back to that bush in north Georgia where you were found.
You see, most normal couples get a dog first, as a sort of practice run for parenthood. That dog is then treated as a de facto child, receiving all the love, attention and ridiculous Halloween costumes her parents can provide. Only after a real, human baby comes along does that dog actually get downgraded to dog status, doomed to whatever leftover scraps of effort her parents can muster. But at least she had her moment in the sun.
You, however, never got that moment. You’ve always been the dog. Because your dad and I can’t do anything the right way, you already had a one and three year old to compete with, and because they’re actual human children who I’m not legally allowed to leave at home alone in a crate or put in the backyard when they’re getting on my nerves (and believe me, I would if I could), they have to come first.
So, when one of your brothers is crying because he hit his head diving off the back of the couch, it’s not the best time to try to crawl in my lap while I’m trying to comfort him. When I’m trying to search through a giant pile of shoes to find the one flip flop I need, it’s not an invitation to jump on my back and knock me into the shoe closet. It’s not that I don’t want to pet and play with you. I just don’t. Have. Time.
There are plenty of moments I don’t feel so badly for you. When you’ve been lying on the end of our bed napping for four hours, and I remember how the dogs of my childhood were relegated to the yard or the garage or maybe the gated-off kitchen if there was a blizzard, I don’t feel like such a monster.
Still, I’m sorry you don’t understand why I can’t treat you the same way as your brothers and that I don’t have the energy to even try. I’m sorry you’ll get even less attention when you new brother arrives next month and your life will probably turn into an ASPCA commercial. Balancing regular motherhood and dog motherhood is tricky and exhausting, and most days I only have the wherewithal to take adequate care of my human children, even though a lot of the time I like you better than one or both of them.
I can’t promise I’ll ever be more patient or less busy and I can almost assuredly promise you’ll never be upgraded from your status as dog to actual child. But I promise that you’ll always have a couch to lie on, food to eat and a yard to play in. I promise that no matter where we go or what we do, you’ll always have a home with us, and we’ll always do our best to love you, even if our best isn’t all that great. Also, get out of my face. The boys are in bed and I want to eat this ice cream in peace.