Originally published in the newspaper, Hill Rag, July 2008.

Before sperm and egg collided in commuter traffic to create The Boy, The Hound was our baby.  I’m not implying we knit him sweaters, or snuck him into movies.  We didn’t set him a place at the table.  However, we did buy him Christmas presents and supply him with the voice he’d use if given the gift of speech:  inquisitive, sullen, and kind of devious.

Despite mockery from our Breeder Friends, we made travel plans according to whether The Hound could be included.  We set his crate up next to the pack ‘n’ plays and emptied out his “baby bag” of toys, blankies and treats.  When it came time to brag, we were as disinterested in their children’s potty training successes as they were in The Hound’s ability to poop on command.

In short, we were Dog People.   During our first adventure at the local dog park after moving to the Hill, I felt like we had died and gone to heaven.  But we were alive.  At a cemetery.  We took up with a woman walking a beautiful golden retriever pup.  When I mentioned my address she smiled with recognition.
“We’re part of a play group that meets right down the street from you.”  I couldn’t believe my luck!  “Really?” I exclaimed, “Can anyone join?” “Sure,” she replied.  “How old is your toddler?”

Suddenly I noticed she was pushing a stroller.  With a baby in it.  Had he been there the whole time?  I was disappointed.  Not in myself, but that her “playgroup” was unfairly human-centric.

After we parted company, it occurred to me she might have thought me a freak.  But, no, she couldn’t have.  She had a dog too.  It’s not like you cease to be a Dog Person just because you have a baby.  Or is it?

One evening, not long after The Boy’s earthly debut, I found The Husband sitting on the couch staring down at The Hound, curled up sleeping on his bed.  “The Hound does nothing to contribute,” he proclaimed.
“Have I missed something?” I asked.   “Has The Boy started a paper route?  Or day-trading?”  “The Boy contributes,” he replied. ” He’s cute.  He’s sweet.  He doesn’t eat entire sticks of butter or think the house is under siege by evil delivery people.”

As The Husband’s patience grew shorter, so did The Hound’s walks.  Pillow talk began to sound eerily like Hitchcock dialogue: “what if The Hound were to have an accident?” The Husband queried.  “Would you be sad?  That was when I absolved The Husband of dog duty.  Lest there be an accident.

It wasn’t until The Hound, The Boy and I began our daily constitutionals that I realized there was a schism on Capitol Hill.  Upon our arrival at Marion Park the Dog People would comment on how heavy The Boy looked and how uncomfortable it must be to carry him in “that baby carrier thingy.”  The Baby People would coo and blow kisses at The Boy but sneer and fuss when The Hound came by.  They would comment on his “high-spiritedness” and how exhausting it must be to have the additional burden of “that dog.”

When I ran into my park acquaintances on the street and I only had one of my charges I would be addressed with opinions disguised as questions.  The Dog People would inquire on the whereabouts of The Hound and comment on how, wherever he was, he must be lonely.  And The Baby People, should they see me without The Boy, would panic: “Where’s The Boy?!”  I love to tell them he’s in the car.  “What,” I say blondely, “I cracked the window.”

As The Husband has vacillated between Dog Person to Baby Person and I’ve struggled to maintain control of my pack, an interesting thing has happened: The Boy and The Hound have formed a brotherhood.  A mutual admiration society based on the exchange of toys and curiosity of “adult people food” and an appreciation for their shared perspective (2 feet above floor level).  The Boy thinks The Hound is a rock star, his tail a miracle.  The Hound adores The Boy’s delicious fragrance of mushy foods, excrement and drool.  Plus, The Boy’s no cheapskate with a Cheerio.

So, as our mixed family takes shape, it turns out The Boy is a Dog Person and The Hound is a Baby Person.  Their relationship is an achievement of their own doing.  In Eden, animals and mankind frolicked together.  And so shall it be in my house.

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