Tag Archives: parenting

Must Love Like Tolerate Dogs

At the beginning of any relationship, there is often a carefully orchestrated release of information to make yourself seem more attractive to your potential partner.

In what would now be generously referred to as “alternative facts,”  the majority of the embellishments I would share when I first met Jen regarded my relative interest/experience in doing anything remotely outdoorsy.  For example, walking 8 miles after your car breaks down sounds an awful lot like hiking.

But the one trait I would have a hard time talking my way around was my love, or lack thereof, of dogs.  For that, I would be put to the test when I met Jen’s overprotective, 160 lb roommate.  A feisty gal with personal space issues who just happened to be a Great Dane named Tula.


Tula and I learned to see eye to eye.  Mostly because she was able to get in your face while you were eating.


Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate dogs.  Or even dislike dogs.  But I have just never had the bond with them that most people do.  I don’t want to be kissed or licked by a dog.  If anything, I would give them a firm, respectful handshake.  Which would require me to take the time to train a dog how to shake.  Which is a real Catch-22.

While Jen grew up as an erstwhile Dr. Dolittle, living in what sounds like it may have been a discount pet store, I grew up with a dog named Spanky who was treated more like an animal who happened to rent a room from my parents.  My only other dog experience came when I lived with my brother, whose dog Rub was a laid-back Spuds Mackenzie lookalike who was fond of eating loafers.  And nickels.  And the occasional downspout.

As I got to know Jen’s dog Tula, I found out that she was a gentle giant.  As if Godzilla decided that instead of smashing Tokyo, she would rather lay on a futon mattress and watch squirrels at the front window.

Over the next couple of years, I would become the step-father Tula never had.  And possibly never wanted.  We grew into a comfortable routine of her scaring the hell out of me when I would wake to find her an inch from my face and having to keep her distracted by throwing pepperoni across the room like tiny cured-meat rodeo clowns in order to eat some pizza in peace.

When we found out that Tula had cancer, I accompanied Jen across the state for chemo treatments at a hospital that also specialized in farm animals.  Chances are pretty good that I will never again have to extend a trip due to an incident involving radioactive horse urine.

When the day came that Tula got so sick that Jen had to make the choice to put her down, I was genuinely sad.  Not just because the person I loved had to say goodbye to someone that she loved, but maybe, just maybe, because I had grown to love her too.

For the next several years, as Jen and I started a family, the subject of a new dog would surface frequently.  With Jen contemplating a puppy each time she was set to be on maternity leave since she would “be home anyway.”  In hopes of delaying the addition of a dog to our household for as long as possible, I would dance around the subject by using every Mom’s passive-aggressive favorite: “I trust that you will make the right decision.”  As steam would shoot from Jen’s ears, she would slowly realize that having a newborn would already take up roughly 25 hours of our day.

I held out as long as I could, but when you are pitted against someone who once threatened to get a hog because you told her that she couldn’t, you can only last so long.

Two years ago, we brought home a Chocolate Lab named Barry, so named by our son Matthew because he “loves to bury bones.”  Little did we know how prophetic that would be as Barry (Bear for short) has now turned our backyard into a permanent trip hazard in an effort to hide rawhides from some phantom intruder.  But who really needs rawhides when you can eat the screens out of basement windows and chew on the gas meter?


“Is there something around here that I could eat?”


Luckily for Barry, he has a lot of fans in our house.  Jen and Matthew both adore him, and Kate loves him the same way that she loves me.  By that I mean that she tells him that she loves him one moment and then tells him to leave her alone and not touch her the next.  It is really, really sweet.

So, in the cheesy 80’s family comedy that is our life, I have definitely been cast as the curmudgeonly father who gradually gains a begrudging admiration for the family dog.  Only to have that dog knock over the Christmas tree as the credits roll.

So, maybe I still don’t love dogs.  But I love people who love dogs.  So I guess that makes me a “dog person.”

Now, cats….?



Filed under Dogs, Humor, Pets

3 + 1 = Fun?

Nearly twenty months ago, Jen and I welcomed a new member into our family. And as the unimaginable joy of that day led to  many, many late nights of pacing while swaddling a screaming baby, I was left with one question:  Why the hell would anyone do this twice?

Little did I know that just around the time that Matthew turns 2 this May, I will be finding out the answer to my own question.  That’s right, Jen and I will be saying goodbye to what I am sure will seem like the relative peace and quiet of tag teaming the care of one child and hello to what I can only imagine will be a two-on-two Steel Cage Match.

It's a good thing Jen got pregnant before Halloween, because the tights I am wearing with this costume may have made it impossible for me to father more children.

It’s a good thing Jen got pregnant before Halloween, because the tights I am wearing with this costume may have made it impossible for me to father more children.

As a man, I have the benefit of forgetting from time to time that there is another baby on the way because, unlike Jen, I don’t have a constant reminder sitting on my bladder.  But when the memories of the first few months with Matthew come flooding back, and I add a toddler to that equation, things look a little daunting.

Matthew is, for the most part, an incredibly sweet and loving little boy but, at times, taking care of a toddler can be like being in a bad relationship from a Lifetime TV movie.  You will go from laughing and playing to being yelled at in the grocery store parking lot.   Singing and dancing to having the dinner you just prepared being slapped out of your hand.  But you don’t know the real him.  It’s my fault.  Sometimes I just don’t cut the blueberries fast enough.

The prospect of taking care of a toddler and a newborn at the same time is scary enough without the constant “You think you have it rough now” comments from people who already have two kids under the age of two.  With the first baby,  parents would rattle off a series of complaints but always follow it up with the statement “But it’s great and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”  But the advice we get from the parents of two don’t even try to soften the blow.  The only solace they can give is “at least you don’t have three,” as the parents of three or more kids seem to have entered some sort of lawless “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”-situation.

Mel Gibson has eight kids, and he seems like he turned out okay. Right?

Mel Gibson has eight kids, and he seems like he turned out okay. Right?

Once again, we have decided to not find out the sex of the baby before they are born.  Which still seems to elicit an almost visceral reaction from people who will almost certainly never see me or the baby ever again.  I have taken to letting people know that not only are we not going to find out the sex of the baby before they are born, but that I am never going to find out the sex of the baby.  Things could get messy, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one.

As Jen found out when we named Matthew, I have virtually no ideas for baby names, and it drives her crazy.  When it comes to baby names, I only know what I don’t like, and I am pretty much no help beyond that.  My main criteria is that you should be able to find the name on the rotating rack of personalized bicycle license plates at a Six Flags gift shop.  Jen put me on the spot to come up with some girl name options, which ended up with me glancing at the TV and rattling off character names from “Friends.”  I still say that Chandler is a beautiful name for a little girl.

We have a baby name book at the house that is thicker than most dictionaries and would be a great resource for anyone looking for alternate spellings to traditional Icelandic names.  I wouldn’t want my hypothetical daughter to be one of three Bjork’s in her class.  Sadly, any baby name book I would produce would be more like a pamphlet, and like my college papers it would play fast and loose with margins and type size.  Additionally, I would probably use the cheap trick of inserting meaningless photos to pad things out.

Tim Reid as WKRP's Venus Flytrap

Tim Reid as WKRP’s Venus Flytrap

But despite the fear of the unknown with how a second baby will affect our lives, Jen and I still consider ourselves very lucky.  We both have siblings whom we love very much and as much as they may have driven you nuts when you were a kid, it is always good to know that there is someone else out there who has your back and shares so many memories with you.

Besides, we have at least some idea of how to be parents now, so how bad could it be?

(I will most likely regret asking this question (semi-humorously) in a future blog)


Filed under Baby, Humor(?)