Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Michigan


James and I got Michigan after we had been dating only a few weeks. He was my first official birthday gift from Jimmy and he really sort of became the little baby I was told I would never have. The day we went to go see if he was the dog for us, I actually rode 45 minutes in an automobile to meet my new pup. (if you're new to these parts, you can read here why this is indeed, amazing.) I remember walking into the "breeder's" home and realizing this wasn't a legit breeder at all and thinking that I wouldn't likely be going home a new dog momma just yet.

But then she brought Michigan out to meet us. She placed him on the floor and he immediately went down on his tummy in a playful manner, hopped up into my lap, and gave me two little gentile doggy licks ...... I was sold. Legit breeder or no, this little guy needed a home and I was bound and determined that I provide it for him.

The ride home was filled with cute puppy cuddles and excitement. Admittedly a little puppy puke too ;) but in all that new puppy glow I hardly even realized I was in a car much less felt any fear about driving another 45 minutes home!

Over the next few weeks we really felt like new parents. Now that I am actually a mom, I can verify that bringing home Michigan was exactly the same as bringing home my newborn son. I realize not everyone feels that way but hey, I take pet parenting just as seriously. Anytime we went out and left Michigan with my mom we missed him and even came home early quite a few nights ;) He was so so easy to potty train.... the easiest I've ever trained in fact and I have trained plenty of dogs in my time. Being a Rottweiler, he did try to establish dominance for a bit but I knew what to expect and was able to establish my role as "alpha" properly and peace was restored quickly.


When we got Michigan we lived with my mother (yes, Jimmy and I already lived together after only a month of dating.... that's another story for another time) in her big house with an acre of property for Michigan to run free in. Unfortunately the unexpected happened and my mother wasn't able to keep that home and we had to buy the two family house so we all had a place to live. As a result, Michigan lost the big yard to play in and the open space in the house.

Conditions weren't ideal but we knew it was temporary. We started working our tails off to get a bigger house of our own and a better place for our pup.

Then I got pregnant.

There was a small moment when the excitement of the pregnancy died down where I worried that dog and child may not actually work together. Michigan had never been around kids so I honestly had no idea how he would react. I started doing my research and talked to a few other Rottie owners who had nothing but glowing reports of their kids and pup babies living in harmony so my fears eased off and I had faith that it would all have to work out. Finding a new home for Michigan simply wasn't an option. He was my first baby.

Things had to work out. They just had to.

And so began the process of cramming two adults, a 130 lb dog, and a newborn into our apartment. Gates went up, everyone was separated and everyone was introduced slowly. As Raine grew he showed Michigan a lot more attention but mostly they were still separated by a gate due to the fact that this big dolt of a dog was too big to realize he was accidentally knocking the tot over. There were many petting sessions over the gate and doggy licks to the toddler's face but other than the occasional passing of each other in the same room there wasn't much direct contact because we really didn't have the space for it. We all longed for the day we would move into more space to romp and play as a family.

Well, as I mentioned a few weeks back, the move hasn't been easy on anyone. Michigan has taken the strongest hit it seems. He pouted for nearly a week and there was some issues eating and going to the bathroom in the house. I expected as much honestly but once that was all squared away I thought things would just be peachy.

But it hasn't really worked out that way.

I do not believe in a million years that Michigan would ever hurt Raine. But with my knowledge on dogs I may have to finally admit that contrary to my belief that Michigan is an angel.....he is, in fact, an animal with animal instincts. Instincts that can't always be predicted and now that my son is a wild-man-full-blown-jumping-off-of-the-furniture-and-creating-chaos-at-every-turn toddler I can't, with good conscience predict the behavior of either boy or dog. It would be irresponsible of me as a dog owner and as a parent to assume that I can do so. Parents and dog owners who have assumed perfection in these dog and child relationships have lost a lot.... sometimes everything.

Don't get me wrong, dogs and kids can and do live in harmony in many many families. But knowing what I know about animals I know the signs of harmony disrupted. Michigan is definitely now confused about his place in "the pack" now that the child is old enough to start establishing dominance. I had hoped that moving into the bigger home would settle these currently mild issues but it seems, after being here almost a month, to only have made things worse.

If I had brought Raine home first things would most certainly have been different. But I didn't know there would ever be a baby. I had accepted that a puppy was likely the closest I would ever get to motherhood. And honestly, I don't regret a thing because if things had happened any differently I would have never had this time with my first boy. He may be a pain in the ass sometimes but I honest to goodness love the heck out of this dog.

So my heart is breaking today because I think it's time to accept the truth of things. That it's better for my Michigan to live in a better home than we can provide. I believe that he is 100% my responsibility as it should be whenever we humans take on a pet. But I may have to realize that, in this case, my responsibility may actually mean finding him a better home where he can be truly happy.

I feel like I have been kicked repeatedly in the chest. To me, it's no different than considering putting Raine up for adoption. I feel hollow and empty at even the thought. I would do anything in my power to make it work. I've even brought the idea of not having anymore children to the table if it meant we could keep Michigan here with us. But I am only being selfish now because he is still unhappy anyway.


His happiness needs to go before mine.

It's funny, I would have never thought that I'd have to learn this lesson with my dog before I'd have to learn it with my son....

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