Not much has been said about the Former Congressman Chuckles around here lately, and it’s not because he isn’t still a huge important pacing and whining part of our lives. We love him now just as much as we did before the baby was born, and because we consider him a member of the family he is required to make sacrifices just like the rest of us: The Family has had to learn how to function on much less sleep; The Family has had to learn how to shower and poop faster (to be honest, only One Person has had to learn how to poop faster because The Other Person never really pooped slowly, and there was one afternoon last month when the frustration level in the house almost blew the roof off, and The Other Person who poops quickly actually yelled at the One Person who poops slowly and said, LIFE IS DIFFERENT NOW. YOU MUST LEARN TO POOP MORE QUICKLY.)
Chuck’s sacrifices are much less significant than the ones Jon and I have had to make, but that is the nature of a dog’s life. When I am reincarnated I want to come back as my dog and live a life full of sausage treats, naps, more naps, even more naps, and afternoons spent rollicking at the park with my other dog friends. I would be willing to bet that my dog has the best life of any dog that has ever lived. He sleeps in a warm, dry house on a fluffy bed every single night of his life; he’s fed gourmet dog food twice a day and is slipped a bounteous amount of yummy treats throughout the afternoon; he gets to run full speed across large open fields every evening, or at least every other evening, and then he gets to come home to belly rubs and ear scratches and EVEN MORE TREATS. Never once has he had to pay a bill, change a diaper, or unload the dishwasher.
The biggest sacrifice he has had to make is going from three walks a day to one walk a day, and during the first month of Project Leta he was lucky to get three walks a week. But the level of treats has remained constant, and he’s never been denied a belly rub or snuggle. He will always occupy a certain space in my heart as my first baby, the first time I had to give up a large portion of my personal freedom to take care of another creature. In many ways he helped prepare me for the knocks and bruises of bringing a human baby into this world. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to boil him in a large pot of chicken broth when he starts whining about that third walk I don’t have time to take him on. There has been more than one night in the last three and a half months when I have wanted to serve Chuck and a side of french fries for dinner.
I do have to give him credit, though, for transitioning into siblinghood with absolutely no problems. We thought that he might resist Leta’s presence in the house, but he has never once indicated that he is jealous or angry about having to share our attention. If anything, having Leta in the house means that there are more cues for outdoor walks, and walks to Chuck are like Doritos to Mama. Before Leta was born Chuck knew that I was about to take him for a walk when I put my socks on. Socks meant that there would be shoes which meant there would be reaching into the drawer for a poop bag which meant grabbing the leash off the back landing which meant WALK WALK WALK WALK! Even now I can’t put on a pair of socks without Chuck hearing the cotton stretch around my ankles and immediately running from his bed in the basement at the other end of the house to my side, tail wagging, eyes hopeful, thoughts of trees to pee on dancing through his pea-sized brain.
Now I can’t even change Leta’s diaper without Chuck’s ritual pre-walk hysteria, because a diaper change might mean putting Leta in the car seat which might mean putting the car seat in the stroller, and OH MY GOD THE STROLLER. When he sees the stroller he reaches spontaneous orgasm. When I gave birth to Leta I also gave birth to the stroller (talk about pain!), and Chuck couldn’t be more thrilled about his brother with the wheels and cup holder. If it were up to Chuck I would have a hundred kids because then I would have a hundred strollers and that would mean hundreds and hundreds of walks and that’s so many he can hardly count that high!
Yesterday evening we were preparing to go to the park and I had just set Leta in the crib so that I could put her pants on. Chuck had already caught on to the pre-park cues — the dog can sense us thinking about looking at the door — and I turned to him and asked him, “Where’s Leta? We need Leta to go to the park.” And what followed was one of those moments in life that reaches into your heart and squeezes it so tightly that you momentarily black out from the cuteness. Chuck scrambled into her room and began looking everywhere for her. He looked under her crib, under the dresser, in the closet, behind the changing table. He searched the swing and then back under the crib, searching and searching. And then he could smell her in the crib and he sat up right next to it, his nose pointed firmly in her direction as if to say THERE SHE IS THERE IS LETA CAN WE GO TO THE PARK NOW HUH HUH CAN WE?
And I realized in that moment that right now, here in this small desert corner of the world, I have a dog and a baby and a husband who is willing to learn how to poop more quickly and this is all I ever wanted. I am so wonderfully lucky.