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In the Dog House
The kids have flown and now canines rule the roost
There's no escaping these watchful eyes.

 Not long ago, I was a black-haired, freckled-faced 28-year-old mom of four little ones—two boys and two girls, all under the age of six. It was heaven on earth. I was keenly aware of it. I often said, “These are the best years of my life.”

 

Who’d have thought it would all come to this, and so fast?

 

In what seems like a blink of an eye, I am now 49. My hair is still mostly black, but the grey is becoming increasingly prominent. Old age spots are slowly replacing the freckles.

 

I sit here hiding in my writing room. The lights are off except for one lone lamp. It is dusk. I am trying to be as quiet as possible. It has not yet dawned on them that I am not in the kitchen where I should be. They’re outside playing in the backyard but they will be coming in soon and this quiet time I am having will be broken.

 

My responsibilities are much the same. Play, feed, cuddle. I make sure they go potty, and when they have an accident, I clean it up.

 

I am not hiding from the kids.

 

I am hiding from the dogs.

 

I live in a dog house. My four darling children have been replaced by three adorable but demanding hounds: Rosie the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cindy Lou the Dachshund, and Betty Boop, the needy Boston Terrier My poochies have taken over the house. Everywhere I turn, there are reminders of my three darlings. Some endearing, and some revolting. I have to be careful where I tread in the middle of the night, lest I step on a bone or in a puddle. I find squeaky toys in the dirty clothes pile. Shredded creatures litter the yard. Potholes and doodies dot the landscape. There are many areas of yellow on the grass.

 

More than once, as I was lost in concentration—writing a story or adding to my blog—I have been presented with a dead mole. A furry, wet, long-nailed dead mole at my feet. Disgusting.

 

I wake up each morning with Betty Boop’s butt in my face. Bostons are known for being gassy. She is no exception to the rule.

 

There are dog gates blocking the dining room, the family room and the kitchen. But Betty Boop is a female Houdini and gets through of them all, creating an escape route for the other two in the process. There is dog hair on the bed, on the couch, on the chair and in the car. There are frozen dog bones in the freezer. And frozen ice cream doggie treats as well. There are sheets on sofas and sheets on chairs. There are dog beds in each room that match the décor of the house.  But they don’t want their beds, they want my bed, or my couch or my lap.

 

Help me, please.

 

I have a dog bathroom that’s actually really cute. I put Betty Boop in there one of her first nights at our home (she’s a rescue); she tore it apart—wallpaper and molding ripped right off the walls, bite marks on the toilet seat. I decided to make lemonade out of lemons and found some dog wallpaper and it is now an homage to all things dog. But then again, that applies to the house in general.

 

What am I doing?

 

These are supposed to be the best years of my life—it must be so because I’ve heard it on Oprah. That’s what the authorities say. When the kids leave, the hubby and you will have time to run around and fool around whenever you want.

 

Tell that to the dogs.

 

You’ll be able to pick up and go on vacations with ease. Vacations? Are you kidding? It costs an arm and a leg to get a sitter to stay with them. After all, I wouldn’t want my little ones in a kennel.

 

This doggone house has rubbed off on my four kids as well. They grew up with dogs—always more than one. So  I’ll be spending this holiday season with my patient (and allergic) husband, my four darling children, daughter-in-law, grand-girl and grand-boy. But to add to the Norman Rockwell moment will be my three poochies and five grand-pooches. Oh, and I can’t forget the daughter’s boyfriend’s pooch as well. So that means 10 people and seven dogs. Heaven help us.

 

This year, I will count my many, many blessings—and pray for a poopless New Year.

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 57: Nov/Dec 2009
Kathleen Rooney Mara blogs at Kathleen's Folly. kathleensfolly.blogspot.com

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