I’m sure you remember the night we brought home a baby as well as I do — all the jittery, nervous energy, all the crying, all the unsettled shuffling from room to room. For something so tiny and helpless he sure turned our lives upside down, especially yours. I know. I’m sure you thought you would stay our only “baby” forever. You had the run of the house, went on walks every day, slept on our bed — I even made you peanut butter bacon cupcakes for your birthday. Life was good. Then, on that cold, winter night, we brought home a baby, and everything for you went downhill.
It started with me kicking you off the bed. I was recovering from my c-section and it was the only place I could get comfortable nursing. And boy did that baby nurse. All day and all night I sat propped up in bed with him, nursing and nursing. That bed became our home base and I was mortified when I laid him on the comforter and he came back up covered in dog hair. I couldn’t stand it. He was so new and so fragile; I needed everything he touched to be clean. “I just need one place I can sit with the baby that isn’t filthy with dog hair,” I complained to Dad. And so you stopped being allowed on our bed.
Eventually the couches became off limits because I wanted to sit there with the baby, too.
I’m sorry for the several months you only got to go on walks when Dad was home (which was, like, twice a week). I wasn’t confident enough to push the stroller and hold your leash at the same time. I was nervous you would see a cat and dart into the street, pulling me and the baby with you, or that another dog would start a fight and I wouldn’t be able to keep you safe. My mom skills weren’t developed enough to handle dividing my attention between the two of you, and so the baby won and you got neglected.
I’m sorry for yelling at you so many times when you barked and woke the baby from his nap. I know you think anyone who comes within 30 feet of our front door is trying to break in and kill us. It’s a trait I like about you, actually. It makes me feel safe. But when I’ve been trying so hard for so long to get him to sleep, it shatters my sometimes very fragile mental state when you wake him up. Still, I know you’re just trying to protect us, so I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for kicking you out of the room when we were playing with the baby. You’re 100 pounds of pure excitement and I was terrified you would jump six inches in the wrong direction and squash our little guy like a bug. It’s not your fault you get so excited — at three years old you’re still a baby too. I should have worked more patiently with you to be calm when we were playing with him.
I’m sorry I tried to make up for neglecting you by giving you treats all the time and you gained an extra 10 pounds.
I’m sorry the baby turned into a toddler who thinks your name is No.
I’m sorry the last year has undoubtedly been the hardest of your life. It’s been the hardest of mine, too, but for me it’s also been abundantly rewarding. I don’t think the same can be said for you. For you, it’s just been hard.
So in addition to saying sorry, I also have to say thank you.
Thank you for coming in the nursery every time he wakes up from his nap and giving him kisses through the slats of his crib.
Thank you for doing nothing more than sitting with an annoyed look on your face when he sticks his little fingers in your food bowl and tosses out the kibble while you’re trying to eat.
Thank you for all the gentle games of tug-o-war and slowed down games of fetch that elicit endless giggles and squeals of glee.
Thank you for hardly batting an eyelash when a little hand smooshes your face and tugs on your ears while you’re trying to nap.
Thank you for cleaning all the food off the floor around the high chair, and whatever I missed while wiping his face.
Most of all, thank you for still loving me. Thank you for still getting excited when I come through the door and wagging your tail next to the bed when I wake up in the morning. Thank you for still wanting to be in whatever room I’m in and go wherever I’m going. Thank you for still coming over to check on me in the middle of the night. Thank you for still acting like I’m the greatest person who’s ever lived even though I often treat you like you’re the worst dog who’s ever lived. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.
This is the part where I feel like I should ask for your forgiveness, but what’s sad is I know I don’t need to. You’ve already forgiven me. You forgive me every day. You don’t keep score or hold grudges. You’re the perfect example of unconditional love, and we are so blessed to have you.
In my sometimes awful, imperfect, human way, I love you. And I can’t say thank you enough.
I know you can’t read this letter, but I’ll go ahead and read it out loud to you and probably throw in some belly rubs while I’m at it. I think you’ll get the jist of it.
With love always,