On my birthday morning, I was jumped on in bed by two big, hairy males. That made three big, hairy males in my bed. They were all warming me up. I felt loved. Two of them started licking me, ferociously – ‘a little too loved,’ I told them. One of them then got the hiccups and with each of his breaths, I felt as if I was being knocked a little bit sideways.
As I lay there all loved up and having been woken prematurely by two of them I had time on my side, I set off thinking about the similarities between toddlers and dogs. Because years ago, it wouldn’t have been dogs jumping on me rather too early in the morning, it would have been kids.
We got the dogs at a time when our lives had settled into a very pleasant routine of weekend lie-ins and leisurely baths. Wine in front of the fire, sprawled out on a shaggy, cream carpet. Teenagers who happily stay in bed and don’t start demanding anything until about midday. No more baby shit to clean up, projectile vomit was a thing of the past and a thing of the future. The here and now was pretty easy.
The thing is, I don’t do, ‘easy’. I need to have constant challenges in my life. Three kids just wasn’t enough and I was fortunate enough to have four. Four kids under 5 satiated me for a while, but then I was on the prowl for something else. Competing in Taekwon-do for England hit the spot. Now, years later, it’s dogs.
Dogs and toddlers wake you up too early. Dogs and toddlers piss on the carpet. Dogs and toddlers interfere with sex. I can no longer lounge on a cream carpet, casually putting my wine glass down on the floor. My bowl of nibbles is not my own. I have a pair of soulful eyes looking at the crisps and then at me, and when I turn my back, bam the crisps are gone.
Life is suddenly a bit of a challenge again.
But just as I learnt some tricks on how to deal with the demanding toddlers, so I am using the exact same survival techniques with the dogs. Put them in the car 5 minutes before you intend to leave – it’s all about head space. No squeaky toys for the same reason. Make sure there are toys in their beds for them to play with first thing. Take them out of the house and exhaust them – there should be soft play for dogs.
Of course, just like the toddlers, I wouldn’t be without them. The unconditional love they give, is worth the challenges they provide. We all need a purpose and without these constant little challenges in our lives, we would flounder in an abyss. I do wonder, however, how parents of toddlers and dogs cope. There’s a challenge I am happy that I never have to face.