I have a shameful secret. Others may not find it to be a big deal, but I do. My secret causes me all kinds of anxiety. It makes me feel like a failure. And I lie about it…a lot. But it’s time to come clean. So, (big breath) here goes…
My dog doesn’t exactly like my baby. It’s more like Rooney begrudgingly tolerates Little Bear. There are moments of love. Rooney often licks Little Bear’s face and will even occasionally try to initiate a game of tug. But that’s about it. Usually he runs away ,like a little girl who’s seen a spider, any time Little Bear gets within five feet of him.
Sometimes it’s really funny, but mostly it makes me sad. Before Little Bear was born I had such high hopes of the two of them being best friends. I wanted to be able to take pictures of them snuggling together, Little Bear using Rooney as a pillow. I’m pretty sure that will never happen.
It might not seem like a big thing to most people but I am The Crazy Dog Lady. More than that, I’m The Crazy Pit Bull Lady. And it’s really important to me that Roo be an ambassador for his breed. So I lie to people and tell them all about how much Rooney adores Little Bear. He is a great dog and he loves people, including older kids, more than anything in the world. But he’s also terrified of the very little ones. Thankfully (because he’s such a great dog), he would never react to any of the torture Little Bear inflicts on him. Case in point: Little Bear’s favorite game is to sneak up on Roo and steal whatever bone he’s chewing on. Rooney always gets this forlorn look on his face and goes to lay down in the nearest sunny spot. I would never encourage this game but he’s a quick little bugger and sometimes he manages to get to Rooney before I can stop him.
All of my friends that have pit bulls and babies go on and on about how much their dogs love their kids. Their dogs are patient and gentle. Allowing themselves to be dressed up, pulled on, and prodded to the child’s heart’s content. They’re supposed to be known as “Nanny Dogs” for goodness sake! Rooney apparently didn’t get the memo.
In Roo’s defense it is probably my own fault. When J and I brought Little Bear home from the hospital we went about his introduction to Rooney all wrong. We were careful, and Roo did great, but there were no treats involved (so important!). We were also incredibly nervous those first few months. Of course we were; we were first time parents! And Roo is a big boy. He’s 60+ pounds and has a tendency to act like a bull in a china shop. Bless him, he means well. Sometimes, though, he’s a lot to handle. And we found ourselves very often yelling “Roo! Watch out for the baby!” He once, completely on accident, knocked into Little Bear while doing zoomies. J wasn’t exactly nice to him about it, and I think it scarred him!
Little Bear isn’t without fault either. He went through a phase when he was younger where I’m almost positive he thought he was a dog; and the only creature in the house he wanted anything to do with was Rooney. He would literally follow him around like a little puppy. He bites Rooney’s tail and he pulls at his ears. The word pet doesn’t exist in Little Bear’s vocabulary, but hit does. He is all boy and he is rough. A correction to “be gentle” bears no weight with him.
I hope that as Little Bear gets older and is more capable of understanding the words “no”, “ouch”, and “gentle” he’ll stop torturing the poor dog. The introduction of solid foods has helped tremendously. Little Bear considers it his job to feed Rooney, and Rooney is most appreciative of the new addition to his diet!
It seems so sad to me that there’s a possibility of Little Bear missing out on what it means to have a childhood dog who’s your best friend. Mine was a mutt named Weezie. She went everywhere with me. Weezie never needed a leash (the thought of leaving my side would never have crossed her mind), slept next to my bed every night, was my constant childhood companion, and my fierce protector when need be. The dog you have as a child will be the dog that all the others that come into your life are compared to. For Little Bear (and for Rooney, because he deserves it) I want their relationship to be one of the great ones in boy/dog history.
For now, I’ll just keep pretending that they’re bosom buddies until the day it actually comes true, or until we get another dog who does enjoy the company of small children.