Your pets – they start out as your fur-babies. Cuddled constantly, fed the most expensive food, wearing the best accessories and given endless attention; let’s be honest, they are spoilt rotten. They sleep on your bed (cat), they have their own spot in the car, mostly on your lap (dog) and come with you on all the exciting little outings, tagging along like a well-behaved toddler (sometimes). They are your fur-babies, top of the food chain and top of the heap. Then the first child arrives to join the family, and oh dear, how the family hierarchy changes. Pronto.
I’d heard it all before; well-meaning friends telling me how the moment baby number one arrives, your beloved furry friends will quickly descend to the lowest rank of, dare I say it, pets. Never, I thought to myself, for these furrykins could never be so low on my priority list as to descend to just mere animals. They’re part of the family, I would argue, they’re our first ‘children’, so to speak. But oh how the mighty have fallen. Because when a certain little Miss arrived on the scene, not only did J and I drop on the priority list, the fur-babies fell to the bottom of the food chain quicker than you can say ‘home brand pet food’. Ok, we didn’t go that low, but close enough!
It wasn’t intentional, it’s just that when a baby comes into the house, everything else takes a backseat because pretty much all of your attention is focused on caring for them. Any time left is a bonus and used for sleep! Which more often than not, isn’t much time at all. Suddenly these pesky little pets, used to being the centre of attention, begin to misbehave, on an epic scale, typical of the first born. The dog starts to poop on the rug. The cat pees outside her litter box (seriously – head in the box, butt hanging over the edge. I swear it’s deliberate!). The dog barks at anything that dares to move within his domain – a rustling leaf, a Muppet on tv, small defenseless children daring to walk past the house, his own fricking tail. The cat follows us round the house, meowing incessantly – I mean, NON-STOP, FOR HOURS!
These misdemeanors seem small compared to the most deplorable and heinous crime of all – waking the baby. UNFORGIVABLE. And yet they do it constantly. Despite my threats of sending them to the farm to live with another family (dog), never speaking to them again (cat), never walking them again (dog) and worst of all, turning them into a furry hat (cat and dog, though cat would probably be more suited). I’m not proud of these moments, yet they fly from my mouth in sheer frustration when I hear the baby start to cry shortly after she’s been put down to bed. This is generally the exact moment I have a) made a cup of much needed tea, b) am about to sit down to write or c) am trying to go to sleep myself – all the things I love to do yet have little time for nowadays. The guilty brute generally makes themselves scarce upon seeing the look of fury on my face or hearing my raging outburst, leaving me to deal with the consequences of their beastly actions. GRRRRRR!
So how do you find a healthy and happy balance for the whole family (without resorting to one of the above options)? To be honest, I’m still trying to work that one out. But I do know this – as much as I hate admitting to my parents being right (and damn it, they regularly are – given they have collectively 90 years more life experience than I, it’s not that surprising), I do think there is much to be said to pet’s living outside. This was the rule in my home growing up and having always sided with the animals, I never understood why, until now. And though I’ve not been particularly pedantic about this rule before, now that I have a child, I do see the benefits. The most important being that the furry animals know where their place is, bubba knows where her place is, mum and dad know where theirs is (generally last) and the line between the species is clear (ie the animals know they are pets and not children!). Then, hopefully everyone is happy with their place in the world. That’s the idea anyway.
The Fur Beasts