Just as the playground banter used to jest, it too, is written:
First came love.
Then came marriage.
Then came the dog.
Some nine years ago, in the span of five days, I married, got a new surname and became a resident on a remote Caribbean island.
After the novelty of the island wore off, I became desperate to find friends to socialize with during my husband’s long work shifts; and, in need of a guard to keep the jungle’s wild out of the garden.
To celebrate our first month and Valentine’s Day, I prepared a lavish dinner and filled the home with twinkling candlelight for my new beau.
In return, my husband surprised me with an orphaned pup to help end my isolation. The evening’s romantic spark was soon snuffed out by high pitched whimpers from her laundry basket bed.
Like a new parent, my daily routine came to an abrupt halt. Days previously spent pining were filled with potty training, visiting the vet, breaking bad behaviour and ensuring the neighbouring monkey troop did not bully the helpless canine.
In time, ‘Carib’ became both the gatekeeper to our home and my best pal. She patiently listened to my island woes and tolerated my off-key singing. We hiked the jungles, walked the beaches and ran errands in town together.
Whereas most island dogs spend their lives tied to a coconut tree “fending off” intruders, Carib was the lucky one who got away. With her passport in paw, she wagged good-bye to her island roots.
Initially, a newborn baby is like a puppy. It eats, sleeps, poops, needs some stimulation and plenty of love. But as your child ages, your years of experience as a pet owner are no longer relevant.
Potty training, even with treats, is not mastered in a few days- or weeks. A daily 30-minute walk is not enough playtime to warrant a long afternoon nap, and by no means is discipline given without some sort of retaliation.
What you do gain though, is an amazing individual who can talk and sing with you. She can also scream NO (at least five times while racing around the bedroom in protest of putting on the second sock). And then with the next breath, she tells you she loves you.
And as she begins to discover the world around her, you watch as your best friend becomes her best friend.
Then they became friends.
These days, Carib is the tolerant elder sibling who acts as an improvised tunnel, a train, the doctor’s patient, and a costume jewellery model. On recently discovering Carib’s nipples, our daughter now likes to milk doggy.
Eloise enjoys holding doggy’s lead on walks and issuing commands in a stern voice, “HEEL.”
She knows doggy barks at airplanes, does not like fireworks, and cannot eat chocolate. Yet, she cannot fathom how Carib is not ticklish under the armpits.
Through all the annoying role play, Carib patiently endures the toddler’s harassing ways without complaint or protest. Protective, patient and playful– Carib has adapted well to her new role, Big Sis.
Naturally with a child our focus has changed, but we make a point to include Carib in our family fun and remind her daily…