Before we had children, my husband and I lived in downtown Minneapolis with two large dogs, Reggie and Griffey, whom we liked to refer to as our parents' "grandchildren". Time after time, we heard the warnings, "Just wait until you have children, you won't even think about those dogs." This scenario was inconceivable at the time, our dogs were the recipients of our every affection. They attended obedi- ence classes, visited pet stores, were walked and trained daily. I wish I could say that we proved everyone wrong and continued showering this affection on our mutts after the kids came along, but it simply wasn't possible; much in the same way that taking a 10 minute shower uninterrupted is simply no longer possible. Shortly after moving back to Emmetsburg, Reggie began to attack Griffey, the unfor- tunate side effect of an anxious dog who had seen too many changes in too short of time. For the safety of our family, dogs included, my older brother adopted Reggie. He now lives a charmed life as the only dog of a bachelor.
Griffey hasn't left my side since. I think she's afraid of being farmed out. And while I am no longer able to give her my undivided attention, she does have my undying gratitude. On days when nothing else is going right I know that at the very least she won't complain about what is being served for supper, require me to wipe her face or butt, or refuse to take a much needed nap.
She is by no means perfect. The hundreds of dollars we spent on obedience training may as well have been thrown out the window as our concern with her good behavior has since been overshadowed with our concerns of raising children. The dog who once showed such impeccable manners now hogs the bed, steals food, eats dirty diapers, naps on forbidden furniture, and has occasionally been found standing in the middle of the dining room table searching for leftovers.
These offenses, once abhorrent, are now quickly and easily forgiven for one simple reason: she has never tried to eat the children, not even once. Not when our daughter sits on her back and yells, "Look Mama, I ride!" Not when our son interrupts her sunshine drenched nap to attempt to cut her nails with his toddler clippers. Not when the baby chews on her tail. Not even when I found our two oldest children sticking soggy Cheerios to her back and erupting into fits of giggles as they watched her turn in circles trying to eat them.
The years since Griffey came into our lives have passed in a blur. I often feel caught in a time warp that propelled me directly from carefree college student to mortgage holding, business owning, mother of three. Griff's muzzle in now mostly white, a constant reminder to slow down and take note of each moment, of the reality that the sleepless nights of our children's infancy will soon turn into the sleepless nights of their teenage years. And so we sacrifice toast left on the counter, and furniture free of dog hair. We pat her head, kiss the children and stand in awe of the gorgeous chaos that our life has become.