Favorite Child

When my eldest daughter went off to college, we got a puppy.  

The first time we met him, he had his head tucked under the sofa with his little white fluffy tushy sticking out the other end. I think he thought if we couldn’t see his face, he would be invisible.  

I worried about him being skinnier than the rest of the pups.  You could see his ribs and he felt a lot lighter than his littermates.  My husband thought he looked “lethargic.”  But my youngest daughter loved him, so we took him anyway.

When we got him home, our new little puppy wouldn’t eat.  He was too afraid.  My youngest daughter suggested letting him eat out of my hand.  He liked that, so I went through that charade twice a day for weeks.

My eldest daughter accused him of being “her replacement” and that I was developing a mild obsession with my dog. She started referring to him as the "favorite child.”  It has become running joke in the family.  But five years later, she still won't call him by his name.  She just says "favorite child."

It’s really ridiculous.  A parent does not have a favorite.

Admittedly, I do talk about him a lot… but he’s really loveable.
Admittedly, I do take a lot of pictures of him… but he’s really cute.
Admittedly, I do feel bad when I leave the house even to run an errand… but he doesn’t like being alone.
Admittedly, I do buy him special food… but he does have allergies.  
Admittedly, I do have him groomed every month… but his coat is very difficult to maintain.
Admittedly, I do spend a lot of money on vet bills… but he was born with some congenital issues.

But to say that he is my favorite child is just a (slight) exaggeration. He just happens to be perfectly adorable, unconditionally loving and we have a special bond.  

He sits in my office all day while I work.  He follows me wherever I go. When I take a shower, he lays on the bathmat until I get out.  He sits beside me during my meditation. When I practice yoga, he does his downward dog during my downward dog.  

But he is not perfect.  He has a tendency to bark a lot.  Yes, this might qualify him as a “yappy little dog.” Also, when he is outside, he does not respond to the simplest of commands, and he is also a runner.

He does not “come” when you call him.  
He does not “stay.”  
He does not even respond to his name.

Okay, so that is a little bit of a problem.

Most of the time, he stays on our property, but yesterday he decided to roll around in our freshly planted flower beds (that had just been watered).  My perfectly groomed/all-white angel came into the house covered in mud from head-to-toe. No big deal except that it took me an hour and a half to wash him, dry him and brush out the mud.  

So today, when he went outside to do his business, I was careful to keep him out of the mud.  But something was bugging him.  He kept sniffing around the deck.  Something was under there and he needed to find it.  Next thing I know, he’s leaping off the deck and disappearing under the house. A moment later, I saw a shrieking feral cat, followed by a ball of white fluff, and then they were both gone, through the fence and into our neighbor’s yard. I started yelling because I have no idea how far he had run.  We live on agricultural land and the lots are two acres each. There is no easy way to find him. Thankfully, our neighbor heard me and offered to help me search. After 30 minutes, he pulled up with my  “little angel,” covered in mud (again) and with sticky green thistles throughout his coat.  This is wayyyy worse than yesterday’s mud roll.  I was furious.  

He knows he was a bad dog.  He knows that I was freaking out that he might be lost forever.  He knows that he should not have run away.  He knows that he should not get filthy, because it means another 90 minutes of pulling, brushing, washing and drying. It was like combing out broccoli covered in taffy. But he didn’t care. He’s a dog.

Sigh, he’s definitely not my favorite child today.

Unfortunately, the bad dog photo doesn’t do it justice, because even his “mugshot” is so cute.