In the doghouse. Again.

I have a confession to make. And you’re probably going to hate me when I tell you.

I’ve fallen out of love with my dog.

I feel terrible. It’s like I’ve been cheating on her with the baby. And she knows it.

Friends tried to warn me. When they saw me and bump wrapped in a cuddle with the stinky dog they said: “That’ll all change when the baby comes along.” And they were right.

We did take steps to try and prepare ourselves and the madra for the forthcoming life. I let her know there would be a few less walks and a bit less attention. We even brought home the baby’s first babygro from hospital so that she could have a sniff and get to know the new member of the pack.

On the day we brought the bundle home and through the door, we put the maxi cosy down and waited with anxiety to see how the dog would react. She didn’t. She didn’t give one shite. She didn’t look at her. Smell her. Pee on her. Nothing. It was like the baby wasn’t even there. And that’s how things have remained.

Throughout the first hectic few weeks we got on with things, wrapped in our baby bubble, not really paying much attention to the mutt, but not neglecting her either. It was still summer and the hubby would take her for walks. When I recovered a little, I too, would take buggy, dog, umbrella and mobile phone and try to call a friend while trying not to split open my stomach stitches as I negotiated the knee high footpaths. (Thank you Celtic Tiger).

But things were changing. No longer was she allowed on her perch on me, because I was always holding baby. Barking at the binmen and postmen and the flies and birds was not allowed, because baby was asleep. And yes, when the exhaustion kicked in, some walks were cancelled, because we just couldn’t have been arsed.

The dog began to react like all spurned partners. She started doing things to annoy us. Somehow she has mounted an invisible glue that attaches her to your ankles, heels and toes. If you go to move forward she is under you feet. Take a sudden side step and there she is. If you fall backwards you will also step on her. It is so fucking annoying.

This thread of attachment follows you through doors. As you move about the house, the dog comes with you. But she likes to hang back a little. So while you’ve entered the sitting room, she’s still in the hall and as you go to close the door, she remains the other side, looking at you with sad eyes. You have to call her loudly to get her into the room. At the start, we were patient with her, but because I’ll flit between rooms and up and down  the stairs a thousand times a day, I now call roar her name as I go to close every door.

Because you can’t just leave her the other side of the door. Lock her out and she’ll pee on the rug. Or carpet. She doesn’t like the easily cleaned tiles. She likes to punish you.

She also likes to whine. The baby will whinge and you’ll use your special Mammy powers to ease the child to sleep or into a quiet calm or feed her, so that she is content. This seems to signal to the dog that she should start her noisy time. It’s a low whine, a constant, throaty, poor me sound. It goes on and on and eventually I’ll be heard roaring: SHUT UP. SHUT UP. LUCY! JUST SHUT UP!!!

And then I feel bad. Because really, I’m taking my Mammy frustrations out on the poor dog. I also realise that the dog has some serious abandonment issues and that’s why she wees when she’s the other side of the door. So you can imagine my horror on the day of ‘the incident’.

It had started off as a pleasant day. The sun was out. I decided a walk would be nice. I’d just set up the pram that day and it was first trip with the baby on wheels, where she could sit up and look round her, without being strapped to the maxi cosy.

We made it to the shop, I tied the dog to the railings and I went to the post office. Seven euro they charged me to post a tiny package and I was so shocked I immediately called my friend to tell her and check how she was. I pushed the pram down the road, walking to the golf course, where I could just see the beach.

Back home, I settled the baby and made lunch. I listened to the peace. It was very quiet. I opened the back door to check on the dog, and seeing she wasn’t there, I looked to her bed. It was empty. And then it dawned. The dog was still tied to the railings at the shop. And I’d been there TWO HOURS ago.

Shaking I called the husband who had just left in the car. I confessed to him what I’d done and he hung up (with a few expletives). And then there were five minutes, where I didn’t know if I would ever see my dog again. People were known to take dogs from shop railings. She could have been taken in for cruelty. What sort of doggy mother was I?

Husband brought her home. I threw my arms around her, apologising into her fur. She peed on the floor. But this time she got the tiles.

The dog abandonment had been the worst case of baby brain I had ever experienced. Not only did I forget her, but it took me two hours to remember her. What if the canine had been a child? I’d be arrested. In fact the SPCA had a good case against me.

‘The incident’ didn’t really help matters. It didn’t improve the dog’s behaviour. But it did soften me a little towards her bad behaviour. There had been tears when I thought I lost her. So I still loved her, right?

The funny thing is, the baby loves the dog. She follows her round the room with her eyes, giggling at every move she makes. She chuckles if the dog licks at her fingers and enjoys stroking her fur. She pulls it out in clumps and I have to stand guard and prise her fingers from the poor mutt’s mane.

Still, we have a serious case of unrequited love on our hands. The dog feckin adores me. Most evenings I can be found on the mat, cuddling the baby with one arm, while patting the dog on the neck with the other. I have to show her some love, because I feel so bloody guilty.

Today we went for another walk. We were nearing the scene of the incident and I stopped for a minute to look at my phone. The dog cocked her leg, despite being a girl, and peed all over the bottom of the pram. That’s a warning, she meant. And I took it. She’s asleep beside me here on the sofa. So I guess it worked.



December Girl is now available on Audio. Visit Amazon or Audible or click on the cover below to download.

December Girl audiobook
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