The First Baby

Far be it from me to quote the likes of Jenny McCarthy – who one of my colleagues ran into the other night at a restaurant here in Chicago and said that someone had to tell her it was Jenny McCarthy, rather than, as my colleague first suspected, “a porn star” </gossip> – but one of the things that stood out the most for me in her book on being pregnant was how neglected your once-precious pets become once the baby arrives, and that eventually you find time for them again.

I wasn’t totally shocked by this, of course, but really just saddened. Long-time readers know that Glin Bear is my trusted companion, best buddy and, if I’m honest, first baby. Knowing I’d have to relegate her to second-class status made me heartsick and guilty. When Abigail was in the throws of Hell Baby, I mean, colic, I remember leaning into Glinny, sobbing in her fur, apologizing over and over again for bringing this into our once-peaceful lives.

Glinny responded by licking my face and went back to watching the baby.

One of the things that happened when Abigail was born was that Glinny finally had a job. She made it her duty to be up and near that baby at first peep. I swear that Glin was perhaps as sleep-deprived as we were. While I know it was pack-instinct kicking in, there was something about Glin’s reaction to the baby that made all of my guilt easier, and it made me happy to see Glinny be protective, rather than territorial, with the new addition to our little group.

But now, well, things are different.

I won’t say that Abigail is the bane of Glin’s existence – after all, with all of the food that kid intentionally drops at Glin’s feet, no matter where she is, life with the baby is a literal moveable feast. What I will say is that Abigail is absolutely enamored and in love with Glin, in that annoying, cloying, unfiltered way that toddlers are with animals for whom they haven’t a lick of fear. Abigail has always loved Glinny, a fact evident when she first started growing out of her newborn phase and into the more-aware-of-her-surroundings baby phase. It’s all just been multiplied as she gets older.

There are many daily attempts at fetch, which really is just Abigail picking up one of Glin’s toys, toddling over to Glin, and Abigail either trying to force the toy into Glin’s mouth or dropping it at her feet. There are countless saunters to a resting, quiet, lying Glinny so that Abigail can pet and cuddle and paw at the dog.

Glinny doesn’t snap or get aggressive. Even when Abigail marches over to Glin and takes a ball right from Glin’s mouth, Glin happily plays along. Or does so begrudgingly. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Last week, before I was pummeled with a nasty cold, I made a command decision to reward Glinny for all she’s put up with this year. All of the treats she missed out on. All of the times we’ve shooed her away. All of the walks we didn’t take. This week, I told myself, Glin would get time with me alone for a morning walk. “It’s time,” I thought. “No more putting it off.

We lost our “family dog” about three weeks ago. Piper was the first golden my parents bought since our last dog died when I was in high school. She was the best dog, the smartest dog we ever had, and for a long time the REAL only baby of our family. I’m not ashamed to tell you I cried when Lynette told me that Piper spent her last Saturday morning playing outside, and by the afternoon had curled up next to the back door, short of breath. As my parents realized what was happening, they sat down next to her and gently petted her white-and-copper-tinged fur. In one final breath, Piper looked up at both of them, put her head down, and was gone.

Glinny will be seven in July, which is hard for me to believe, but a solid reminder of how fast time flies, how much faster it flies by with a kid. Glinny deserves 30 minutes of my day. Especially since Abigail has taken to climbing onto Glinny at unsuspecting moments. This week I’ve had to say “Do not sit on the dog” more than Glin would like.

Seriously. The walk is the least I can give her.