Mar 23 2017

Diary of a Dog: Before and After Life with Kids

3 B.C. Diary of a DogJUNE 2010:
Not really sure where I am, but it is GREAT! Definitely digging this place. It checks off several must-haves.

dog's checklist of non-negotiables must-haves diary of a dog

I’ve been here for a few breakfasts now, so maybe this is my new pack. The Two-Leggeds sneak me some gourmet scrambled eggs each morning after my own food, I get snacks just for being cute, and I have my own bowl and everything. My OWN BOWL! Pure luxury.

There are a couple weird rules, though. Here’s one: I’m not allowed on the soft fuzzy floor yet — something about how I need to learn to “go potty outside.”

puppy dog not allowed on carpet

But you know what? Everything…is still…AMAZING! The hard brown planks are kind of slippery, but there are these warm sunny spots everywhere and it is sooo cozy. The coziest.

How do I sign up for a permanent stay? Does anyone have any idea? Is there a waitlist?

A pup could definitely get used to this.

Our species tends to only see the bright side, but in this entry I will TRY to offer a more balanced perspective just so I can prove that I’m a sensible dog.

CON: Bath time. PRO: Luxurious post-bath spa treatment!


PRO: Long, long walks and going “buh-bye in the car” (a.k.a. THE MOST AMAZING THING IN THE WORLD)! CON: Exhaustion. Cannot. Even. Drink water.


PRO: Getting treated like a tiny Two-Legged. CON: Getting treated like a tiny Two-Legged. Dogs do not wear clothes. Or costumes. How are they not aware of this? WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME?

All right, who am I kidding? I AM A PUPPY AND THUS I BRIM WITH UNSTOPPABLE JOY! This place is the ACTUAL BEST! I mean, those “cons” aren’t even cons. I get cleaned and exercised and loved! I am well-traveled!

And really, looking back, the shark costume wasn’t that big of a deal. It made me feel tough. Well, toughER, because I’m already super tough, of course. I get a lot of practice protecting the Two-Leggeds from things like birds and doorbell-ringing.

All these dog-years later, and life is still beautiful! Even though I’m the only Four-Legged in the house (which I GUESS is okay because then I get all the attention), I’ve made some friends.

Mama-Two-Legged is a teacher, and she’s been hard at work teaching me things. I can “shake.” I can balance for a really long time without my front paws.

diary of a dog sitting on hind legs

I roll over and lie still when she says, “Bang, Bang.” I know to sit patiently and wait for my food. Most recently, she’s been focused on getting me to clean up after myself — I guess that’s because she’s kind of a neat freak. (Okay, not kind of. She’s DEFINITELY a neat freak. For real.)

My days are full. My heart is happy. This is the LIFE!

So. Let’s talk about life.

I think Mama-Two-Legged is growing it. She’s walking like those ducks over on Crescent Lake, and she appears to have eaten just a few too many Milk Bones. She smells different, too. I keep following her around and sniffing at her, but I have yet to receive an explanation. Her lap is still warm — super, extra, furnace-level warm, to be exact — but there is now an unsettlingly small amount of room for my head.

puppy resting on pregnant belly diary of a dog

I’m starting to get a little nervous about these new developments, but mostly I’m excited. Maybe I am finally getting a puppy!

C.E. Diary of a DogFEBRUARY 2013:
Yeah. Well. It’s no puppy, I’ll tell you that much. It looks
kind of like another Two-Legged, but it’s much closer to my size — which would be fantastic except that it arrived without fur or barking capabilities. Actually, the noise coming out of this thing is enough to make me want to hide out in my crate 24/7.

Even more disturbing: it seems to have taken my place. LITERALLY. My exact place.

This used to be MY favorite spot to sleep, but that annoying yappy thing is always there now. And everyone is so cranky all the time and I don’t even get eggs for breakfast anymore because no one ever seems to have a spare second to cook them.

If I didn’t know better, I’d swear the Two-Leggeds don’t know how to make anything but coffee.

MAY 2013:
Trying to get back to my look-on-the-sunny-side roots, but life has taken a turn for the worse. The bigger The Thing gets, the bleaker my future seems. Bright, colorful squeak toys are EVERYWHERE now, exploding out of every room, but I’m not allowed to play with them. They are “not for dogs.” The irony is, I’M expected to share everything. Even laps.

baby and puppy resting on mama's lap diary of a dog

And here’s another Unfair Alert: The Thing has never been banned from the soft fuzzy floor, EVER, even though it goes potty all over itself and most definitely does not pee outside. 

JULY 2014:
In an effort to convince The Thing that I can be trusted, I am trying to make friends with it. For example, I have agreed to regularly get my tail pulled in exchange for intermittent story time.

Still no dice on the toys.

AUGUST 2015:
toddler with pregnant mom diary of a dogHoly hell. Here we go again.

Is one not enough?! I’m barely starting to get used to THIS Thing! Can’t they just have five at a time like we do and get it all out of the way at once?

Poor Two-Leggeds. I guess it’s not their fault they’re not as evolved as we are.

So much for the bright side. I am grumpy and lonely and sad. Whenever I try to participate, the Two-Leggeds say, “SHHH! Stop barking! You’ll wake the baby!”

So that’s what they are, huh? Babies. Well, you can take your “Babies” and stuff it, Two-Leggeds. I’m just trying to talk to you.

Nobody has left the house in weeks, so I only get to ride in the car when it’s time for the vet or the groomer. You heard me right: the groomer. They can’t even be bothered to bathe me themselves anymore. But The Babies? Those fools get washed every other day. Right, sure, I was never a fan of baths in the first place, but a dog’s allowed to complain ONCE IN A FREAKING WHILE. Do I sound bitter? It’s fine. I’ll just be over here contemplating my self-worth.

I’m going to crawl into my own little den now, because that’s what has become of my life.

Oh, wait.

toddler and puppy in crate diary of a dog

Does NOTHING belong to me anymore?! I have lost my pride, my dignity, and, you know, my entire will to survive, but evidently that is not enough. No — I had to lose my bed, too.


JANUARY, 2016:
Still here. Seriously, someone send help.

Well, hello! It’s been a long time, huh? I can admit I fell into a bit of a funk there for a bit, but I’m grateful I stuck it out. Things are looking up…I guess.

I’ve gained thirty percent of my body weight now that both Babies are eating solid foods — at each meal, a cornucopia of table scraps litter the floor as if my sweetest dreams have burst to life. The smallest Baby and I have an arrangement: I will chew up his teething toys only minimally, and he will supply Cheerios whenever I stare directly into his eyes.

baby in high chair feeding Cheerios to puppy diary of a dog

The unwritten addendum is that he will also accidentally provide me with veggies and chicken and cheese and — eureka, EGGS! — while he practices using a fork.

There are lots of pros now and not as many cons. No one pulls my tail anymore. I get to play outside when The Babies play outside. I go for car rides every time we take the Alpha to preschool.

They’ve both learned how to throw my favorite ball, and they take much, much longer to fatigue than the older Two-Leggeds (come to think of it, do they EVER fatigue?), so I can play fetch to my heart’s content. Sometimes they even get creative with it.

Bonus: Now that there are other small things to dress, I am officially off the hook for costumes.

girl and boy dressed up in halloween costumes as supergirl and batman diary of a dog

As long as this behavior keeps up, there is a chance I will not move out.

MARCH 2017:
LIFE! It is rich! So, so rich. Those doggone Babies — they won me over in the end.

They take turns holding my leash when we go for walks. They are just as excited to see me as I am to see them. And they give excellent hugs — they’re still learning to be gentle, but someone always wants to pet me these days. I’m kind of a big deal.

I am older, I am wiser, and I am sometimes bone-tired — the days are rich, yes, but they are busy, busy, busy. My job is even more important now. After all, there are twice as many pack members to protect.

But there are twice as many laps to choose from, too.

kids petting puppy on couch diary of a dog

From time to time I remember my list, now dog-eared and outdated, buried somewhere with my puppy papers and my very first collar.

These Babies of mine? They check off must-haves I didn’t even know I was missing.

baby snuggling with puppy diary of a dog

About Melissa

Melissa is a SAG-AFTRA actress and former high school teacher from Michigan who (reluctantly) moved across the country when she was six months pregnant. She is the winner of the SmokeLong Quarterly Grand Micro Contest and a past winner of the Breakwater Review Fiction Prize (selected by Susanna Kaysen, author of Girl, Interrupted), the F(r)iction flash fiction competition, and The Writer's inaugural personal essay contest, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Greensboro Review, New Ohio Review, HuffPost, Scary Mommy, and The Boston Globe Magazine, among others. She has been shortlisted for both the Bridport Prize and the Bath Flash Fiction Award and was recently selected for The Best Small Fictions and the Wigleaf Top 50. Melissa is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

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