Changing Priorities…or Not.
Does having a baby somehow negate my responsibility to this dog? Does it lessen it? Am I no longer required to feed him the best diet I can afford? To provide him veterinary care when he needs it?
I understand in the battle of kids vs. dogs, human vs. canine bipeds always win. This, I am not questioning. In terms of life and death, of course. But, how often is it actually in those terms? Isn’t it often a question of sacrifice? Of priorities? Of living up to the responsibilities you signed up for? Even when it sucks.
My kid is not here yet. I haven’t had to live that life, to make those choices. The position of armchair quarterback is nice and comfy. Part of my pre-baby plan is amassing a substantial Vet Savings account to save me from having to make unfortunate decisions when the chips are down, emergency vets are in use, and decade long relationships are on the line. Still shit happens, accounts empty, when it rains in pours. With this many dogs, the odds are against me regardless of how much I save.
There is also a general questioning of diets, budgets, and dog expenses in these Before Baby times. We live pretty high on the hog now. We’ll all take that down a notch when our newest pack member arrives. We’ll sacrifice. Some of us may have to eat kibble. Premium, high end kibble, still obviously inferior to our current raw food selection. I’ll have to give up the Farmer’s Market. Somehow, we will muddle through. I’m not even feeling too guilty about it.
So many threats and promises of how a life changes with the arrival of a baby. Understandably. But does it render my current responsibilities null and void? Is it a carte blanche excuse for being a shitty human being to these creatures I’ve shared my life with? That’s how I see it used. Suddenly inconvenient and expensive dogs and cats can be dropped off at shelters, sent to perhaps inappropriate new homes, offered up on Craigslist because of ‘new baby’. Or because the kids ‘need Christmas’ and we ‘need vacation’. Yet, vet care just costs too much.
I acknowledge that having actual offspring might put my dog love into perspective. Maybe make it seem small and less so in comparison with the life long, fruit of my loins journey we are embarking upon. However, I refuse to believe I will magically, suddenly, inexplicably become capable of abandoning my dogs. Of threatening their place in this family because of decisions I made. Of compromising the comfort of their old age because its inconvenient. Shitty people make shitty decisions. They just blame it on their kids.
Speaking of those kids, what does that teach them? Value of the human-animal bond aside, what does it teach them about living up to their commitments? About banding together when times are tough? About what is really important? If I don’t value my dogs as part of the family, how can I expect my peoples to? Bonus points for lessons in hard work, companionship, and thrift.
There are circumstances I’m not taking into account here. Probably. Allergies, come to mind. Even if it is oft over-used. Perhaps, other medical conditions. Safety. Out and out loss of a home. Although, I’m not convinced my dogs wouldn’t be happier living in a car with me than sent packing. Such an arrangement could prove problematic. But, I think of moving heaven and earth. Of what possible circumstance could make me choose between kid and dog to such a degree that dog loses in a very big way. In my mind, those are the circumstances you go into debt for. Not flat screen TVs, extravagant Holidays or even terribly fuel efficient cars (ahem). No. Keeping bellies full, heads under roofs, and providing necessary medical to all. When those things truly come into question, under hopefully rare and unfortunate circumstances, then we do what we have to do. And we skimp absolutely everywhere else.
Clearly, this is on my mind. Due to my own knocked up circumstances, soon to be diminished means, and events unfolding around me. It’s a hot button-y topic. Full of judgement and guilt. My intention is only to question my own circumstances, as I’m currently faced with fat vet bills. Vet bills I can handle right now. Vet bills that promise to be more painful without Corporate Sponsorship. Painful, but not going anywhere. Vet trips that will be harder to make with infant either in tow or waiting at home. All this would be a lot easier without the literal pack of responsibilities that come standard with our life. I can anticipate all these conflicts and complications. There’s a whole slew I can’t. What I can do is anticipate handling those with my dogs.