Friday, August 20, 2010

Take my dog, please

Our dog is the sweetest, best dog in the world. Everyone who meets her loves her. She is loving, gentle, and friendly.

But ever since I became pregnant six months ago, I can't stand the dog! Her obsessive, repetitive paw-licking drives me totally freaking bonkers, for example. She's been neurotically licking this one spot on her paw for the last four and a half years, and nothing we've tried can deter her from her task -- but now that I'm pregnant, I lose my mind when I hear her licking that goddamned paw.

And she probably doesn't smell any worse than she did before I was pregnant, but now her terrible odor, including her offensive breath (which you can smell as soon as she ambles into a room), has actually brought me close to puking. And speaking of puking, I seriously cannot deal with cleaning up the vomit that results from the dog eating any sort of crap/carcass she finds in the yard or (this is her fabulous new stunt) in the trash can. (The trash can even has a lid that she has figured out how to remove, a maneuver that might have impressed and entertained me six months ago, but now seems like an act of deliberate malice designed to afflict me in particular.) If we're lucky, she eats something that's actually sort of a food, like moldy rye bread from the trash can, but more often it's something indigestible like a dirty sponge (I know, you've been hearing an awful lot about this sponge). I don't know if you've ever cleaned up dog puke after your animal companion has eaten a Pinesol-soaked scrubby sponge, but it won't make you feel any closer to your dog.

Now that she is fourteen years old, the dog can't control her bladder. The fact that she pisses all over everything is one that used to annoy me, but I shrugged and thought, "well, she can't help it. We'll all get old one day." Now, when she pisses on my floor, I think, "I hate you, dog."

I can't help it. I don't know why everything she does infuriates me now that I'm pregnant -- the desperate licking of her empty food bowl for ten minutes after she has scarfed down its contents, the ubiquitous string of drool* that hangs from her mouth (it's like a quarter inch in diameter, I swear to god), all the times she whines to go outside at 4 AM and then just stands in the driveway staring a you, the single "let me in the house" bark she issues after being in the yard for like 20 seconds.

Becoming pregnant and then hating your dog(s) seems to be a very common phenomenon. I don't feel good about suddenly hating the dog, and my guilt impelled me to do a Google search ("I'm pregnant and I hate my dog") that revealed HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS of stories from pregnant women who used to love their canine "babies" and now can't stand the sight/smell/sound of them! Many of them are really, really funny. One woman said, "I take a shower three times a day just to get away from the dog." SO FUNNY!

This blog post in particular made me shake with laughter, tears streaming down my face. Laughing about it, and realizing that what I'm experiencing is an actual thing,** made me feel better -- although I am still livid over the giant puddle of piss I found on our bath mat this afternoon (why was the dog even IN the bathroom? I swear to Christ she deliberately peed on that rug!).

There are a few Internet theories about why so many pregnant women start detesting their pets out of the blue. For example:

#1 Our heightened sense of smell might make us extra-sensitive to how f-ing foul dogs smell.
#2 Hormones are making us all-around more irritable.
#3 The dog senses an impending change and is acting out (i.e. behaving like a real a-hole).

For me personally, I don't believe it's #2. Honestly, I don't think I'm irritable with anyone or anything else, just the dog. There might be something to #1 and #3, I don't even know any more. I'm inclined to think there are biological and evolutionary factors. Regardless, I can think of a couple of things that seem true -- first, the idea of my newborn baby having to breath air that smells like dog urine into her tiny, new lungs makes me freaking flip out. The dog has already peed and vomited on the carpet in our baby's future nursery, a fact that seriously makes my head explode. And if this dog is still alive when our baby becomes mobile, our floors cannot be coated in drool, scented with urine, or dotted with eight-inch balls of shedded fur. Would you want your baby crawling around in that germy muck? Like I'm really going to have time to clean and disinfect every inch of my house every day! Which brings me to number two: I won't have the time or energy to deal with dog-related stressors, or this dog's ultra-neediness, when the baby arrives. This week alone I've cleaned up vast puddles of dog piss at least once a day, almost every day -- a task I am certain to resent even more monumentally with a new baby. Oh, and as a freelance illustrator, I work from home (which is awesome and a privilege), which means that I never -- will never -- get a break from the dog, until the sad day she leaves this world and I'm left feeling guilty as all hell for having felt constantly and intensely annoyed with her.

Some women say that they start liking their dog again after the baby arrives, but most seem to believe that, if anything, the resentment deepens once the baby is outside of the womb. I really, really hope that I come back around to liking the dog, because... well, because it doesn't feel good to experience feelings of hostility toward a creature who loves you so devotedly. I know I love the dog -- I vividly remember loving the dog -- but for the last six months I've wanted a vacation from her smelliness, whininess, and general grossness.

Although her mere presence exasperates me, I promise, I'm never, ever mean to the dog and she lives really well. She eats and drinks like a happy hog, sleeps on a fifty-dollar bed, gets at least two walks a day, enjoys the run of a big plot of land, eats lots of treats (in addition to what she snorfs out of the garbage), occasionally works up the vigor required to chase a squirrel, and is lovingly petted (albeit not by me). Despite the current friction, she does have a loving home.***

P.S. I can't believe I forgot to mention the farting! Oh my god, the farting!

* for some reason that rope of drool makes me mental, oh my god.
** documented by a bazillion anecdotes, which isn't nothing.
*** even though the majority of that love is currently provided by Ben.


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