Living in the Moment with a Baby and a Dog
We have an Australian Shepherd named Yuba in our family. Boy, has his life changed since we had a baby. He has had to learn to share our attention with BabyC. Still, there is one thing he knows he can always count on every day: A walk to the park to play frisbee.
Of course, Yuba has to share even this park outing with BabyC. This isn’t so bad once we get out there, but what frustrates Yuba is that it takes so darn long to get a baby mobilized, especially now that the cool weather necessitates socks, shoes, jacket, and hat. This frustrates me, too, but I try to be patient as I get BabyC ready to go. Yuba is ready at all times to go to the park. All I have to do is mention any of the following words: park, out, frisbee, go, ready… you get the picture. But of course by now I know better than to say any of those words out loud – even spelling them out is risky. Certain actions can trigger Yuba’s excitement too: taking the house keys from the hook by the door, putting on socks, and of course, getting BabyC dressed. Once Yuba gets any inkling that a park trip is in the near future, he gets so excited he can hardly contain himself. He becomes glued to my every step, panting with excitement. If I seem to get sidetracked, he’ll let out a little whine lest I forget the mission.
This gets pretty annoying, but I try to imagine how Yuba must feel. After all, this is THE moment he lives for, every day.
“Park?! Now?! OK, yes, NOW! Let’s do this thing! Can you hurry things up? There’s probably a cat sunning herself on the sidewalk, right now, getting complacent with nobody to chase her! There could be squirrels having a picnic lunch at the playground! There could be frisbees flying through the air with nobody to catch them! We need to go NOW! Mom? C’mon!”
Australian shepherds, by the way, are herding dogs. One of the ways that Yuba deals with his frustration that things are not moving quickly enough is to run circles around us. He still has a few things to learn about babies.
BabyC seems to be oblivious to this excitement. Her perception of time is a little different. She lives in the moment, and at this moment, she is not interested in putting on her shoes. She is interested in chewing on her shoes. She is not interested in putting on her hat. She is interested in playing peek-a-boo with her hat. Yuba is not entertained. He will never understand this child. How is it that someone so slow and inefficient gets to run the show?
Finally, we are ready. Walking to the park proceeds at what I can only describe as a frantic dawdle, if that makes any sense. Yuba moves very fast, but he has to check on a lot of things along the way. He has to smell the fire hydrant and run through the grass where it gets tall and roll in the grass where it has been freshly mowed and patrol for squirrels along the way. And he has to poop. At least once.
Getting to the park every day takes a surprising amount of time, effort, and patience. But it is worth it, for all of us.
Yuba gets his exercise. I run him until he collapses in happiness.
BabyC examines the grass and the fallen leaves and even tries taking a few steps on her own.
How did your dog handle the introduction of a new baby to your family?