In love with Alice

Life with a kid changes life with a dog. When I was pregnant, I couldn’t imagine loving a kid as much as I loved Alice. She is my running companion, snuggle partner, best pal. She teaches me important lessons. She is always happy to have me, no matter what state I am in. She rises at 5am to run if I desire and lays spoons with me when she’d rather be barking at the alley. My girl. Alice.

Of the plethora of unhelpful, unsolicited advice people give out to pregnant people (right now it’s boy, you’ll have your hands full! or wow, you didn’t waste any time! How does one reply to that? Yes, we have sex every four hours. I was hoping to be the next octo-mom, but, dangit, I’ll take what I can get.) I was most appalled by people suggesting I wouldn’t love my dog as much when I had a kid. That if my dog bit my kid, I’d put her down without hesitation. When pigs fly.

And, you know, I still maintain and live that truth, 18 months later. But life is different. Alice remains a giant part of our family. Alice was Margot’s first word (and wow). She comes on road trips and gets special treats and kisses. She sleeps in our too-small bed with us at night and has cozy just-for-her spots all over our house. She is loved. However, I am not running a half marathon during this pregnancy like I did the last. In fact, I am not running at all. So, she doesn’t get several-per-week jaunts she so adores and, more importantly, needs. And I do get to a boiling point pretty damn quick when I am scrambling to make an egg (ha!) in the morning and Alice is woven around my legs waiting earnestly for anything consumable to fall on the floor while also stealing Margot’s peanut butter bread and whining at dogs on the sidewalk. I do pay more attention to my toddler and it often takes a deliberate effort to greet Alice when I get home from work to the flurry of my creatures vying for my hugs.

It is different. I tell Alice all the time that in a year, I’ll be there for her like she needs me to be. Like she is always there for me. In a year, we’ll be training for a marathon and running in the Rattlesnake with splotchy sunlit pine needles beneath our feet. I wonder if she feels sad. I wonder if she feels punished not going on runs with me. Feels jealous that another mammal is more often the subject of my picture taking. She sees me leave the house every morning with bug and not her, tail pathetically and hopefully wagging. I don’t get to go, huh? I think she might think I go for a run with Margot and then hang out and take pictures with her all day.

So, Andy reached down to pet her recently and was all what the? because she had rolled in chicken poo. One of her very most favorite activities. So, we hosed her off in the backyard and I wondered out loud, when was the last time we gave her a bath? It has been a long long time. Her sweet collar was shredded and stinky. Her toenails need clipped.

Oh, sweet love of my life, you need a pooch makeover. It was time for some Alice doting.

I made her a new collar in about 30 minutes before work one morning while Margot threw my fabric scraps all over the studio and Alice’s tail tapped rhythmic drums against the door frame and the cats lounged on the rug and the chicks peeped in the bathroom. Seriously, though, the making of the collar was so so easy. And, I just took apart her old collar and used its hardware, webbing and pattern. Add some scrap fabric and voila. Repurposed doggie accessory.

That evening she had a deluxe outdoor bath with gourmet tea tree oil canine shampoo. I intended to use rain barrel water because it is warmer and efficient but the weak pressure was tortuously taking forever so we switched and she got frothy and shook all over me.

The cleansing was followed by a homemade peanut butter biscuit from our local dog shop.

And then a long parade around the hood with just her and me. I let her sniff extra long at other dog’s urine and didn’t yell or groan when she yanked my pregnant body because she saw a dog whose butt she desired to sniff. We had a leisurely date.

Just like everything in life now–my marriage, kid, work, friends, family, art, writing, gardening, exercise, bathing, staying hydrated–it is up to me to prioritize what is important and to make sure my actions reflect my priorities. And that night in the backyard, as we hosed our first baby down, I realized I want more quality time with my dog. I remembered the complete head-over-heels love I found when we picked her out at the humane society. I remembered when she (and our cats but they don’t enjoy hiking, swimming in rivers and road trips as much) was the only kid.

She’s dorky and perpetually underfoot and the perfect, essential part of our little family.

24 Responses to In love with Alice

  1. Gillian says:

    love the early a.m. posting/reading! you know, your love and devotion for alice helped me get over my postpartum lucy neurosis. lucy, who i officially fell 100% back in love with after our bitteroot hike. and so i forgave her when she knocked eliana down because she was so excited to see us yesterday, sending her flying across the pavement with a bloody nose and scraped up lil face. ah my goodness. ah this life with so much to love!

  2. What a great post! Don’t you just love the expressions of a dog — especially the wizened face of an older one (I have one of these, too!). I love how her eyebrows are greying!

  3. April says:

    there’s just no explaining dog love, but you did a pretty good job. sometimes i wonder if we love our dogs too much but then i think there’s no such thing.
    alice is a cutie. love the new collar!

  4. Katie says:

    Ode to Alice. Very sweet.

    You’re a great mama to all the mammals of your clan.

  5. sweet post. going to hug my dog…

  6. TRB Holt says:

    To know Alice is to love her! She is one sweet granddogger AND she is NOT dorky! Underfoot…YES but not dorky.

    I know how you are feeling, I worried about Woofer too when you were born….OH the love affair you two had!!…..”Woofer” was your first word too. He was loved differently for awhile, until you and Trav were old enough to appreciate him….and then he had love X four!!!

    There is nothing more true and loyal than a dog’s love.

    See you soon Alice, I am bringing you a new toy!

    xo, Mom and Gram of Alice & Bug!

  7. Keri says:

    Very sweet post about your Alice. I, too, feel guilty of “neglecting” my dogs after having my kids. Thankfully, my husband steps in and takes the dogs out on adventures as often as he can. Your Alice looks soooo much like my Tilly. What kind of dog is Alice? Tilly is a Terrier-Rottweiler-Chow mix but only 35 lbs. A perfect size for young children! =)

  8. barbaras says:

    I’m teary eyed and happy for Alice.. You are a good mom to all your kids:).

  9. Your post totally spoke to me and made me miss my dog. She passed away in February and definitely went from being the #1 thing in my life to second fiddle (and then third fiddle) once my second son came along. She took it all in stride and I think she was just happy to get an ear massage before bed. Such a sweet, sweet post. (I have a garden and chickens too – and I cloth diapered my kiddos…)

  10. Patia says:

    Aww, sweet. I’m giggling. I’ll bet Alice understands, and I’ll bet she was really grateful for the quality time.

  11. Sage says:

    I can totally relate. Tanner my golden, was my first born and his companionship is second to none. I think that now at 7 years old, how many years will I have with him? Will I get so busy in my life that he will be gone before I can really spend more quality time with him? I started making a point to give him time, just to be scratched and loved more, to throw a ball a couple of times, to brush him. It makes a big difference to him and to me. But it is true, there is only so much of me to go around… and that is a constant battle. But I think just the recognizing and trying to love it all and enjoy it all is what will matter in the end. At least that is what I hope and work towards. We will see wont we? Once again, love your pics and writing, and once again so appreciate you and your efforts. Hope I wasn’t one of those giving you unsoliciited advice. But if I was, I am sure it came from the heart.

  12. Jean says:

    I choked up over this one, woman. Our pets we love them so. I know they love us, too. I’m so glad you gave Alice the Big Dote. She is a honey of a dog.

  13. Kelle says:

    i’m so damn tired and have the biggest pile of work to do, but i can’t neglect my favorite montana chick. i can feel the alice vibes through the computer and know, she too, is a kindred spirit. everyone should have a dog. and i’m glad your kids will grow up with alice memories. aww…i said kids. with an s. i wanna see some preggie pics. miss you.

  14. Finny says:

    You’re such a good mama to realize when your first kid needs some 1:1 time – and then to give it to her. All her special favorites rolled into one day.

    Makes me love you more, Dig – to see you lovin on that pooch just always – even with a bun in the oven and bug in the fabric pile (too funny).

    We thought of you this morning as we ran the beach – Jada in the waves and me in the sand.

    Those pups are our hearts and souls.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I am in love with the new collar! Any tips on making on would be appreciated :) I am sooo tired of ugly ones…

  16. yay! Everyone hug your dog!

    I am unable post a tutorial on how to do the collar because it wouldn’t be right. I purchased the collar I copied from this talented gal and I wouldn’t want to take business from her! However, click here to check out her supa cool collars!

    I do feel comfortable saying, however, that if you could figure it our with any ole dog collar. Get out the seam ripper and carefully unfold, taking notes!

  17. YD says:

    Hi I came over from Sleeping Dog Bakery.
    This is such a beautiful post. Alice is a very lucky girl.


  18. gardenmama says:

    Aww, sweet Alice! : )

  19. Carolyn says:

    Awww…that one made me tear up a little bit. Alice is lucky to have a human like you.

  20. becca says:

    Alice, what a sweetheart. I miss that dog, along with the rest of your darling family, dearly.

  21. I’m such a softie…. my eyes are welling up a little at this post. And all I want to do is go home and snuggle with my Coco, who also doesn’t get nearly enough of my attention these days. (And I don’t even have a Bug.)

    By the way, I LOVE the wise old look in Alice’s eyes. And the photo of her licking her chops, blurred in the background, as you focused on the homemade peanut butter cookie.

    Do you know what mix Alice is, by the way? She looks SO much like my Coco, who is half Lab and half Alaskan Malamute. (You can see a pic of Coco on my sidebar. Or here.

  22. ps. Coco thanks you for her spoiling last night… An extra-long rubdown and tummy scratch that lasted until SHE decided to roll over to snuggle next to me on the grass. A leisurely walk with lots of sniffing to pick up messages. And some shredded cheese (a rare treat) sprinkled onto her food.