Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Baby-Hating Dogs

No, I’m not talking about babies who hate dogs. Everyone knows that babies like (okay, if we’re being honest here -- babies ‘love’) dogs. This assumes, of course, that the dog is not barking at, or 'nipping at' the aforementioned baby. Babies seem not to enjoy this aspect of the ‘dog barking at, or chewing on baby experience’ too much, and share their displeasure by crying loudly.The real-life story I’d like to share with you today is about dogs that HATE babies. I never knew these dogs existed until I had been married for eighteen months. Proof of this canine disdain came one day after I returned home from work. Being a ‘newlywed’ I had no idea the amount of weirdness that could be generated by one Labrador Retriever and one ‘Rabbit’. It is hard to conceive the amount of angst and tragedy generated by these two parties getting together. And true to form, when the Lab meets the Rabbit – the Lab wins.

I fear I have gotten ahead of myself in relaying the story. What I need to do is take you back about six months earlier when there was just the ‘Rabbit’. My wife and I had been trying to ‘become great with child’ for about a year – with no success. The doctor told us that everything seemed to be working okay (wink – wink), but it may be a ‘timing’ issue. Apparently everything was getting to the delivery dock okay, but as it turned out, it was either before the truck arrived, or after the truck had just departed to the baby-making factory. Our delivery “absolutely, positively” had to be there overnight, but we kept missing the pick-up.

My wife had come across an ad in a woman’s magazine that highlighted a product designed to cure all of our baby-making ills. The “Rabbit” was a handheld device that tracked my wife’s temperature and (gasp) predicted her ovulation cycles. Personally speaking, I liked the ‘roll the dice’ concept of conception. Once you apply scientific method the process of making a baby – it seems too much like work. I’ll admit that our original methods were not successful, but practice makes perfect, and well, you know...

This being said, we sent our $90 payment to the folks who made the ‘Rabbit’, and waited anxiously for our ‘special delivery’ to arrive. About two weeks later, we were the proud owners of a digital ovulation prediction device – it lasted, appropriately enough, for nine months. Before “Good Morning’s” were tossed across the old Sealy Posturepedic, my wife would jam the ‘Rabbit’s’ thermometer into her mouth to determine if this was, or was not “THE DAY”. To make the device “Idiot Proof” (in case the husband was somehow involved in the fertilization process) the Rabbit featured a LCD display that graphically depicted the ideal day for ‘CONCEPTION’. (Professional Marketing Recommendation: If this thing also had a built-in TV remote, they would have sold A TON more of them.)

My wife heard her biological clock ticking, but all I heard was a steady and profoundly uncomfortable thudding in my head. This, I believe, was the sound of my ‘anti-biological’ clock. While my wife looked at having a baby as the opportunity to bring a new life into the world, I looked at it as ‘the end to all that is’. Looking back now, I realize that one of us was wrong; I’m not naming names, but one of us was an idiot. (It was me; I was the idiot – okay?) Against this background of angst, the ‘Rabbit’ worked diligently to measure my wife’s morning temperature and plotting her progress towards ‘Ovulation D-Day’. This went on for three months – with no takers on the wife-side of the baby-making equation. This can be illustrated mathematically as:

Husband + Wife + Rabbit = No Baby

Then:

A buddy of mine went to a County Fair and fed a stray dog. The dog liked being fed. Liked being fed so much that she followed them home (my buddy and his wife had walked to the Fair). They liked the dog. The dog liked them. The dog liked many other dogs, apparently, many other times. The dog did not need a ‘Rabbit’. The dog, it turns out, was well on the way to being ‘great with pups’. Slugger, the name given to the stray turns out had quite a bit of ‘exposure’ to other dogs in the neighborhood. When she finally gave birth to eleven pups (aren’t you glad we normally get one baby at a time?). The puppies were an assortment of German Shepherd, Wire-Hair Terrier, Poodle, Husky, Beagle and Black Lab-like pups. With a single litter Slugger could have populated an entire puppy store. ‘Jenny’ was one of these pups.

Jenny was the runt and looked mostly like a Black Labrador Retriever. We decided that we would bring her into our home and make her the newest member of the family (especially since we were having no success at adding to our own ‘head-count’.) We brought her home and made her the center of our world. Unfortunately that was not good enough. This dog had an agenda. The dog (even at eight months of age) wanted to be the undisputed center of attention. I know this because of the events of one fateful Thursday afternoon.

Three months after adopting Jenny I came home from work one day to find my wife in tears and the dog gated in the kitchen.

“What happened?” I asked.

“The dog.” She answered.

“What happened to the dog?” I asked.

“The dog ate the ‘Rabbit’.” She sobbed.

“Huh?” I stammered, not grasping the immensity of what was to follow.

“The dog ate the ‘Rabbit’. It’s over there. It doesn’t work anymore. She chewed the
thermometer off and broke it. The dog ate it because, because, because she doesn’t want me to ever have a baby. She wants to be an, an, only child…..” My wife was sobbing even more loudly now.

“You’re kidding me -- right?” I asked, hoping that she was actually kidding.

“No, the dog ate the ‘Rabbit’ because she doesn’t want me to have a baby – so she ate it and now we’ll never have children because it cost $90 and you’re too cheap to buy another one.” It was at this point that she glared at me.

“Oh.” I said.

“You probably got the dog to get rid of the ‘Rabbit’ for you so we’d never have children.” She continued. “I don’t think you ever wanted to have a baby.”

“That’s not true, I love babies, and they’re so cute when they belong to other people, are in television commercials, when they’re sleeping……”

“You TRAINED the dog to eat the ‘Rabbit’ – didn’t you?” She said.

I did the only thing I could do at this point – I took the dog for a walk. No matter what I said at this point, I was going to lose.

Conversations over the next couple of days were a little tense, but I don’t think my wife actually believed that I taught the dog to destroy her ‘Rabbit’. It was the emotional let down of thinking that we wouldn’t EVER have a baby because our ‘Rabbit’ died. Now, three kids later, I just laugh. Not able to have children? We had children when we were trying, thinking about trying, and not even trying at all. Here, therefore is our amended equation for baby-making:

Husband + Wife + Dog = 3 Babies

I have some advice to anyone burning up hours of life worrying about whether you’ll ever have children or not – relax. If it’s meant to be – it’ll happen. Feel free to enjoy all of your life, not just selected parts of it. There’s enough stress in life to go around, don’t compound it by making romance into ‘work’.

But just in case there are otherwise happily-married couples out there looking to take all the romance out of their lives and do what we did, I recommend the following:

Look in the back of a women’s magazine (they're all pretty much the same) and I’ll bet that there are newer and even cooler versions of our old ‘Rabbit’ out there. So ladies and gents, bust out the credit card, pick up that phone and have that little device shipped via Next Day Air! You could be just a month away from the beginning of your first Trimester! And you thought your life was already stressful enough?

And guys, after a few months of feeling like you’re getting a little too much pressure to perform ‘your duties’, and if you happen to have a puppy at home, I have two words for you: ‘Peanut Butter’

I’m not saying I did, and I’m not saying I didn’t. You too must find your own path (preferably with your wife, and a good dog by your side).
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