Thursday, August 26, 2010

Momma bear in training

Growing up, we had a black lab named Mandy. She was a mean, grumpy dog who bit people, including me. Still, I LOVED that dog.

We got her when I was 5. I was 17 when she died, and I had pretty much never known life without her. Nor did I know what it was like to own a dog that didn't bite people. Mandy was particularly bad with treats or rawhides. The first time she bit me, I was probably about 6 or 7. She was chewing a rawhide in the doorway to my room, and in my attempt to step over her, she bit my foot. I remember thinking it was my fault for almost stepping on her face. Of course she would bite me!

Despite this somewhat negative canine upbringing, when I was in my 20s, I couldn't wait to get another dog, especially a great, big dog. Due to some Animal Planet show like "Breed All About It" or something, I fell in love with Rottweilers and wanted nothing other than the biggest, toughest-looking but sweetest Rottie out there. And that's exactly what we got when we found Rosie (then known as "Big Red" at the animal shelter).

Since the day we brought her home, Rosie has never once showed her teeth, snapped at or bit anyone. Nor has she ever intentionally hurt anyone. (Unintentionally, she steps on people's feet, sits on laps and knocks down small children with her massive tail.) She has quite the growl, and in the beginning it took me a few weeks to realize that her growl, albeit ferocious-sounding, is actually her way of playing, and sometimes purring.

I can't express how grateful I am to have a friendly dog, especially now that we have a baby. We always knew that Rosie would be good with the baby, and we even hoped that she'd take on a motherly role. That hasn't happened yet. In fact, for the first few months, she's mostly just tolerated Maya's presence. She gives her face or feet the occasional lick, but she doesn't follow her around or insist on sleeping in her room. (In fact, whenever Maya cries in the middle of the night, Rosie sighs loudly, then goes downstairs.)

Still, her extreme tolerance for the baby is noteworthy. Maya has recently starting pulling and pushing herself up to standing, and often uses various parts of Rosie's body to do so, including her belly and face. Rosie just takes it. And then yesterday, while Rosie was chewing on a rawhide, Maya attempted to crawl over Rosie's head, but instead opted to just sit on her nose. And in response to this intrusion of her personal space and coveted treat? Rosie gingerly moved the rawhide to the side and kept on chewing, while Maya leaned on her neck for a while, then crossed over the dog's paws before crawling along her merry way.

People, I would have bit Maya if she sat on my nose while I tried to eat. But not Rosie. She is beyond tolerant. She's the Dalai Lama of doggie tolerance.

So, although Rosie's yet to become to momma bear we had hoped, she's so much sweeter and more patient than I ever imagined. I still think Rosie will warm up more to the baby, especially when Maya's eating—and dropping—more table food. But for now, we are a blessed little household.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Separation Anxiety

This afternoon, I fly out to North Carolina for a work trip. I get back tomorrow night. This trip will be the longest amount of time I've been away from Maya.

For the weeks leading up to today, I've actually been looking forward to getting away. The idea that for the first time in 10 months, I know that a crying baby won't wake me up in the middle of the night has sounded like bliss. Add to that the fact that I get to eat an uninterrupted dinner tonight and breakfast tomorrow morning, and it was enough to make me downright giddy.

At least, until I said goodbye this morning. I was pretty sad to leave her, and I tried to give a bunch of kisses and hugs, but she was so excited to see her babysitter that she didn't reciprocate. She did, however, manage to spit up on my shoulder. So when I miss her today, at least I have a little something to remember her by.