Written by Brittni Guariglia
On January 8, 2010, a Craig’s List post caught my eye – beagle puppies for sale at just $75. As a college kid with childhood dreams of having a dog, I saw this as the perfect opportunity. Accompanied by my then-boyfriend, I walked into a house filled with the chaos of a new mother juggling a newborn and a litter of 8-week-old puppies. We both walked out of there, with baby marty in my hands and agreed how crazy it was in there. A new born baby and all these puppies, how could she do it. Little did I know that this decision would set the stage for one of the most profound transitions in my life.
Picking Marty – My Unlikely Constant
After much deliberation, I chose Marty, a beagle with a food motivation that would later become a central theme in our shared experiences. Bringing him home was a joyous occasion – his long ears dangling in the water as he drank marked the beginning of a companionship that would weather the storms of my 20s.
Marty became my best friend, crying partner, hiking buddy, and an unwavering support system through the rollercoaster of early adulthood. His mischievous escapades, although challenging at times, were outweighed by the love and comfort he provided.
The Unanticipated Struggle: From Dog Mom to Human Mom
As my 20s unfolded with numerous relocations and life changes, Marty remained a constant. However, the dynamics shifted when I found out I was pregnant. Hormones raced through my body, and every little annoyance with Marty seemed magnified. Living with my now-husband, Marty was no longer allowed on the bed as well as trying to navigate our new living situation with 4 cats and our cuddles diminished.
The Unspoken Challenges of Transition
This transition from dog mom to human mom brought forth challenges seldom discussed. Creating life, giving birth, and raising a child are transformative experiences, but what no one seems to talk about is the unexpected strain on the relationship with my fur baby. Dealing with Marty became unexpectedly challenging, and the emotional toll surprised me.
Facing Regret and Rediscovering Love
The realization of my lack of affection towards hit me during a summer night when Marty woke up yelping in pain. A vet visit revealed a slipped disc in his neck, a condition that required immediate attention. The guilt I felt for not being there for him in the past year and a half was overwhelming. Fortunately, I found the right vets to help him recover, prompting me to reevaluate my behavior towards him.
A Message to New Parents
If you find yourself struggling to balance the love for your pet child and the demands of a new baby, know that you’re not alone. It’s okay to be overwhelmed and recognize that your dog understands the baby is the priority. The love for your fur baby will return, so give yourself grace if you aren’t there yet.
I know that my son loves Marty as much as I have and this experience has been one that I am forever grateful in figuring out how to refocus the love of our relationship and bring that into our home. In sharing my journey, I hope others navigating the transition from dog mom to human mom find solace and understanding in the complexities of this unique experience.