Our little boy is turning ONE! Cue the “where has the time gone?” and “time sure goes by fast” and “I remember when we brought him home the very first day” stuff that nobody cares about except the parents and potential grandparents.
Now I’ll have to answer the “how old is he” questions using years rather than weeks or months! Is this when we can no longer call him a puppy? Or use the excuse that he’s just a puppy when he pees from excitement? Mr. Ernie may “only” be a fur baby, but to us he is a part of our family. People scoff that he is “just a dog”, but to us he is the third member of our family. We love the lil monkey so much! It’s okay to call a dog a monkey, right?
Over the past year Ernie has taught us so much about parenthood. Or as I like to call it, Puphood. I’ve been told to “wait until you have a real baby, then you’ll see the light” but maybe I like living in this well light world! How can one scoff at loving an animal too much anyhow? Ernie has opened our eyes to what it’ll be like to have human babies one day and we’ve learnt a few things along the way:
– Watching them play. I have watched Ernie play with other dogs for literally hours at a time and throughout those hours I have a warm, glowing heart and a big, goofy love struck grin slapped on my face. I LOVE watching him have so much fun with his little buddies and it brings me joy to see him so happy! When John is able to join Ernie and I for our long walks and playtime at the dog park, we sit on the bench holding hands, completely love struck, and watch our boy run laps, chase others dogs, wrestle with other dogs and have the time of his life.
– When they are sick, you feel sick. When little Ernie is sick I feel absolutely helpless. I would do anything, pay anything to make him feel better or to know what is wrong with my cutie patootie. It’s heartbreaking to see your little baby in any sort of pain or suffering and have no idea how to make them feel better. When something is wrong with your baby, you just KNOW! Who knew that instincts were actually legit!? (Except, it seems that my instincts always lead me to believe that poor Ernie is dying of cancer every time he is sick, but the Vet tells me that those instincts require some fine tuning.)
– You always sleep with one eye open. Any sort of peep, whine, simper or bark that Ernie makes during the night I am well aware of. I am always on edge in case something is wrong. If he stopped breathing in the middle of the night, I would be giving him CPR within 5 seconds of his last breath. Ernie has woken up twice in the middle of the night from throwing up in his little beddy-weddy (yes, I baby talk to my puppy wuppy) and each time this has happened, I have sprung out of bed like the ninja that I am. I sit with him, rub his back, talk soothingly to him and hold his hair back (or wait.. that last one is what my Mom did for me when I was sick) until he is done. After clean up, I bundle him into his blanket and sleep with him on the couch in the living room with a bucket close by. He appreciates being comforted afterwards, he tells me with his eyes. As I type this, I realize that I may sound like a crazy person, but I would
probably do it for John too.
– They “talk” back! Yes, I’m well aware that my dog doesn’t actually talk to me… how would you know if he did anyway!? No matter how much training the little fluff ball goes through, sometimes if he doesn’t want to “come” when called HE WILL NOT COME! He sits and stares at you, almost as if he is taunting you. He knows that he is supposed to come, but he won’t. Because he doesn’t feeeeeel like it. He sits in his air of stubbornness as if to say “I don’t need to listen to you, you’re not my REAL Mom” and then I say “you don’t mean that” and then he sits there taunting me as if to say “maybe YOU should come to ME” and I try to reason with him. I do my best to stay cool, calm and collected trying to show that I am the Alpha, but we both know that I’m about to lose control.
– Everyone has parenting advice. Now, don’t get me wrong I DO appreciate useful and helpful advice from people who actually know what they are talking about. It’s the people who I hate getting advice from as their dog is humping my leg whilst (fun fact: “whilst” is a word that I love to overuse as it doesn’t get as much love as it really should) getting treats fed to him. They’ll ask me if I’ve considered puppy classes for Ernie as he is running in circles not hurting anybody while their giant ass, stinky, drooling dog has got a grip on my leg as if my leg were Marilyn Monroe woken from her grave. Or they tell me, not casually mention which dog food they prefer, but they will adamantly TELL me what is the best dog food in the whole wide world. They will go on and on about how the generic brand from Walmart is the cat’s meow (clever, right?!) as if they are the dietician for all dogs that ever once lived. And if I even HINT that I prefer a different brand ((I’m an Acana lover, thank you very much..(love me a Canadian brand with wholesome ingredients) (not a plug, I swear) (these brackets within brackets get me every time… so much fun, give it a whirl one of these days… just not at work)) all hell breaks lose.
– Potty behaviour. Never in my life did I ever expect to discuss in great detail quantity, quality or timing of fecal matter with my husband. Since we live in an apartment, we can’t simply let the dog out in our backyard. Because of this we are with him every single time he does number one or two and it seems that every time John or myself come back inside with Ernie we document to the other in great detail about his disposals. And then I worry if his bathroom “duties” are trending differently. When you are married to a mathematician, you cannot help but pick up on trend analysis… in fact, I’m trending to become 25% more analytical this time next year. (I can just imagine the horror in John’s eyes that I just wrote “25% more analytical” and that is partially why I included that last part… I’m nice like that.)
– When they learn something new. When Ernie learnt how to “shake a paw” or do any of his other “tricks” (there aren’t many, so don’t bother asking what his tricks are… and don’t bother bragging to me that your dog plays dead, good for him) both John and I felt an overwhelming rush of PROUDNESS (not sure if that word fits here or not, so I thought it would feel more welcome if I used caps) for Ernie. At times it was incredibly frustrating trying to teach him a trick or we thought we should just give up, but then he would go ahead and surprise us. A sense of pride would sweep over us and we would be so proud of how smart and intelligent he was when he would shake his itty bitty paw at us.
– Prejudice. Ernie has really opened up my eyes to holding back judgement on others. When I take Ernie for a walk on the downtown streets of Chicago, we see so many different kinds of characters. There were people who I would see who I would instictively walk a little bit quicker past, but then they would smile at Ernie and reach down to pet him. And I would feel like the biggest ass there ever once was. Not too boast or anything like that, but Ernie gets stopped on the street multiple times on a daily basis by ALL kinds of people wanting to love on him, pet him, hold him, talk baby talk to him, take his photo, etc. Ernie treats every single person the same, regardless of their race, ethnicity, clothing, general appearance, wealth factor, etc. If you show Ernie some love, he’s got plenty to give right back regardless if you are a struggling homeless person who has seen better days or if you are a top exec business man or woman. I’m doing my best to be more like Ernie in that sense.
– Unconditional love. No matter how many times he is “bad” during the day, at the end of the night when he is snuggling with John and I, we forget about the chewed up baseboards. Each night, no matter what happens during the day, our hearts blow up with love for our little boy. I don’t know how it happens, but I love this little boy more and more every single day. Even if he talks back to me, is extra sassy and stubborn, eats the garbage as an afternoon snack, at the end of each day we always love him more.
Although some think I’m completely bonkers for loving my doggy-woggy so much (among other reasons), can you really fault a love so strong? While John is busting his tail feather at work, Ernie and I spend almost every waking moment together. You could call him my companion, my exercise buddy, my lunch partner, my therapist, my travel buddy, my best bud, my furbaby or you could even just call him a dog.. it doesn’t matter what “name” or “title” you put on him because he is all of those and so much more to us.
Our little munchkin is turning one today and even though he has no friggin clue what that means, that is as good as a reason as any to party like it’s 1999.
So, Lovelies, crank up your Sugar Ray (a hit band from the 90’s in case you seriously don’t know) and please help us wish Ernest Theodore a very Happy 1st Birthday!!!
Happy Birthday, Pal 🙂