How Becoming A Mother Made Me Hate My Dog

 

Before I had children, my dog was my baby. I missed her when I was out. We had a “cuddle on the couch” ritual the minute I walked in the door from work. I took her to visit her human grandparents. When my friends would talk about cute things their kids did, I would compare them to my dog (I’m surprised they continued to be friends with me). My dog was my top priority.

When our pup was almost 7 years old, I gave birth to our daughter. After that everything changed. Completely overwhelmed as first-time parents of a baby with a serious medical issue, my husband and I asked my in-laws to let our dog stay with them for a little while. A few weeks after our baby girl came home from the hospital and we had gotten somewhat settled, it was time for our furry friend to return to our house.

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Oh, the horror. What had previously been a pleasure had overnight become a complete burden. My good dog now seemed needy and annoying. “You have to go out again?! How dare you!” “You’re hungry? Didn’t I just feed you?!”  Ugh. I now had a tiny human who needed to have her bathroom and feeding needs tended to and needed my undivided attention.

 

Suddenly being a dog owner was too much.

I began to resent our dog and feel angry towards her all the time. There were the minor issues – Waking up at the crack of dawn on the day the baby finally decides to sleep in? Really??? Banging your water bowl for a refill in the middle of a blowout diaper clean-up? Please stop. Barking at the mailman during naptime?! Come on, dog!

Then there were the huge deals – like the time I had just finished a large, first thing in the morning, pumping session. I set the bottles down on the table and left the room for a second. Seriously, seconds. When I returned to retrieve my liquid gold, there was my dog licking the bottles and enjoying the fruits of my labor. Nooooooooooo!!!!!! *drops to knees in despair*

For the longest time, I felt so guilty for the change of heart that I had towards my dog. I felt like a terrible person. How could I have turned on my once best friend? One day I sheepishly shared my frustrations with a dear friend and she told me how a whole meeting of her mom support group was spent talking about the same thing.

 

It was then that I realized it wasn’t just me.

I guess some of these feelings are a natural part of our maternal instinct to only have eyes for our babies. (The hormones, sleep deprivation and general feelings of being overwhelmed don’t help either.)

It has now been 6 years and during that time another tiny human has joined our pack. Through it all, my dog has been there. Over time, I learned how to better balance the responsibilities of being a mom to both my children and my canine dependent, and the weight of the perceived burden lessened. I have watched my children grow to love her as my husband and I do, and it’s a beautiful thing.

 

It’s true that dogs have unconditional love for their families.

She was loyal enough to have patience with me as I worked through the difficult time of new mommyhood. She gave up her title as “only child” and graciously accepted her new position in the family. She stepped out of the spotlight to let it shine on the new little humans in her life.
We have been very lucky to have our dog in our family for so many years and through so many life changes. Though I may have not always shown it, I am grateful for her continued companionship. She will always be the one who was there first. And, even though she still has her completely annoying moments (as every family member does), I love her very much.

 

The author and her beloved pooch, Shelby.
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How Becoming A Mother Made Me Hate My Dog

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21 Comments

  • Felt the same about my cat. It didn’t help that he was 15 years old and had health issues. I think it’s normal to be more attached to your babies than another animals baby (as a comedian recently said 🙂

  • I felt this way about our dog when I gave birth to my son too. It felt awful but for a period of time I just couldn’t handle the needs of them both, especially when some of my own needs weren’t being met. I had been warned, so I think i had prepared myself for it a little. We tried hard to still make sure she got a couple of minutes of snuggles on the bed every morning and that helped a little, and I know she knew we never loved her any less. Sadly, the feeling of “annoyance” wore off quickly when our sweet fur baby got very sick. We lost her when my son was 7 months old. I think when I look back, those times when she wanted to cuddle on the couch when the baby was sleeping, was her way of trying to fill my cup so I could keep it together.

  • This is so true!!! We adopted our dog, then became pregnant with our first child a month later. For 10 months he was our baby, until the real baby came. I felt horrible for looking at him as a burden and 3.5+ years and another baby later, it is still hard to balance all of the attention. I love him and my children do too but my advice to families with young children or babies looking to get a dog is to wait. It is like having another child!

  • I was surprised that this was the most frequent piece of [unsolicited] advice I was given during my pregnancy – that my beloved fur baby would become “just a dog” once our son was born. Multiple people (even strangers stopping me on a walk!) told me that I would give our dog away and never look at him the same again.

    While I don’t pass any judgment toward people who feel this way toward their dog (it’s obviously a common sentiment since I heard it so often,) it just was never a reality for our family. We were all finding our new normal after our son came home and we expected that our dog would need some acclimation time. We showed him the patience that he needed and in turn he completely enriches our family dynamic.

  • Oh I how needed to read this article!!! My furbaby was my number 1 for 9 years until our first was baby was born 5 months ago. Since then, he has received maybe a tenth of the attention he once had from me. I feel so guilty but when I look in his eyes, I feel as though he understands. I am trying to remind myself daily that he isn’t always going to be with us and I need to show him the love he has shown me! Thank you for such an awesome article!!

  • I experienced this and have been too ashamed to tell anyone. I was dealing with an 18 month old and was 8 months pregnant, and my 17 year old cat was going senile. She rattled doors and meowed for no reason. I yelled “just go away!” one day while she was scratching at the door. I never saw her again. Thank you for sharing your experience. It doesn’t alleviate my guilt but at least I don’t feel so alone.

  • Every parenting experience is unique. It’s great to live through it and share it with others. Don’t let anyone judge you on how you parent your human babies or your pet-babies. They love you and you love them. They know this just like you do.

  • Kind of seems like you didn’t do any training/preparation before the baby was born. Dog owners have a huge responsibility to do so. I feel like defining a dog’s role before baby is home would’ve lessened a lot of these “annoyances”, as you call them. Of course priorities are going to shift- but it’s your responsibility as the adult human to not just shock the hell out of the dog (or cat). These animals live for routine, and especially with dogs, their role in the pack. Luckily, they adjust, which is clearly the case here now that normal dog things are no longer “annoyances”.

    And for people thinking of having kids – maybe think long and hard before adopting a dog if you aren’t willing to deal with its “annoyances” after a baby.

    • You make such valid points. These stories sadden me so much. Domestic animals are just as innocent as Little babies. They don’t choose us, we choose them and it is our responsibility to train and prepare them for a new member of a family. Is my 8 year old Maltese always on his best behavior, absolutely not! But he is such a love and so protective of our 5 month old. I love him even more than I thought possible now.

    • Uhh just wondering if you have any kids and a dog (which you had pre-children)? I completely relate to this article, I knew she wouldn’t get much attention when baby was in the picture and less walks, but these feelings still popped up and I get frustrated with her all the time. She barks during their naps, she still tears apart the garbage but it’s worse when you also have a toddler, she pees on the carpet but I have less time to clean it and any time I DO have is precious alone time, she doesn’t know which toys are only for the kid, she eats their food, she jumps on visitors but it’s worse now that I have more young child visitors, when she gets off the bed and does her usual shake it makes a loud jungle but that wakes the baby…catch my drift. It’s very different now and I get mad at my dog all the time and feel guilty later. She is still loyal and patient now that she’s not number one, but I still have those moments more than not these days.

  • We have 2 dogs in the house with our 3 month old. I feel so guilty not giving the pups as much attention. I always give them extra rubs and lovin’ when the baby is sleeping. I could never imagine hating them. I just felt guilty in being the most loving human and fur mom.

  • I’m glad I’m not the only one… I was pretty cranky because our son had a dairy intolerance and literally did not sleep the first 6 weeks add two dogs to the mix and it was just too much. Now that he is older I am so glad we have our dogs to love and entertain him.

  • We’ve had a similar problem, but with 2 unusually needy cats. I’ve thought about getting a dog for awhile now because I grew up with cats and dogs around and I think it can be beneficial for preventing allergies… but I think we’ll wait until we’re done having kids. I have enough stress at the moment =/

  • Yes!!! This was me too and I felt like such a jerk about it!!! It’s much better now. I think sleep deprivation made me a lot less patient with our dog but she’s such a sweetheart! Glad it wasn’t just me!!

  • How did you feel after having your second baby? Right now my daughter is my world and I’m so afraid that when I have another baby, I’m gonna feel the way you felt about your dog towards her. Please tell me it’s different with humans!

    • It’s different with humans!!! I had the same experience with my dog though. My youngest is two and I adore my dog again. (And my two human boys too!)

    • Totally agree with Leanne. It’s different with kids (or at least it was for me). It’s almost like I felt my cats (I don’t have a dog) would know better but my toddler wouldn’t. There was zero logic in any of it but for some reason, my toddler stayed in good graces – well, as much as a toddler can. As I’ve said to many of my friends, “my love doubled, but my guilt got cut in half” when I had my second child.

  • Thank you! I hated my dog for the first couple months after bringing home my first baby. Thank goodness for the internet telling me I’m normal because I felt so guilty about it!

  • Yeah we called our dog Nuisance for a while after our first was born. Before too long we appreciated him again, though!

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