Caring for the 4-Legged Kids

This post also appeared on www.capecodonline.com/blogs in the opinion section of the Cape Cod Times, a division of Ottaway Newspapers, Inc.

Let’s face it, before Will was born MJ and I were parents of two dogs.

I credit Fenway and Haley for preparing us for actual parenthood. They are both rescues and although I love them dearly, they both came with faults. Fenway had absolutely no manners and a very large sense of self-entitlement. The pound had no history on her because she was picked up as a stray, but you can tell she was either abused or severely neglected. As a result, she thinks that every time we leave the house we’re not coming back. And when it rains hard or thunders, she is a basketcase. She also barks incessantly at times and demands to sleep not only in our bed, but in between us. And she demands things on her terms. For instance, if she wants to go out to go to the bathroom she lets us know. That’s all well and good. But sometimes she just wants to go out and play outside and we can’t always let her because she digs and is destructive. So she’ll bark, and I’ll squirt her with the water bottle. So even though she realizes she can’t bark, she finds her own subtle ways to irritate me and remind me she wants to go out. Most notably she paces. And paces. And paces some more. She walks in a neverending circle in front of the sliding door, and the sound of her nails on the hardwood finally drives me nuts so I let her out.

And Haley is an attention whore, plain and simple. She needs attention all the time. And if someone is petting Fenway instead of her, she runs right over and butts in. She was very much neglected and her previous owners never paid attention to her. The end result is she thinks we’re leaving for good and never coming back every time we walk out the door. So when we are here she demands all of our love and attention because she really thinks she’ll never get it again.

Needless to say, there was an adjustment period when we brought Will home. Of course we did what all the baby books say and brought home one of Will’s baby hats so they could get used to the smell. And when we finally did introduce him to the dogs, it actually went OK. Fenway took one sniff and seemed to immediately realize she had lost her place on the throne. She sulked away and has been pouting ever since, although she has taken on the role of protector and sits as close as possible to Will at all times. Haley on the other hand, did what she always does. She tried to lick Will’s skin off and demanded to be patted. Overall they’re both really good with the baby, but they have suffered from a decrease in attention from me and MJ lately.

To that end I’ve been trying to pay some more attention to them when possible in the form of an increased number of walks everyday. However, those of you on the Cape may be very well aware the region is suffering from a rare infestation of insect, and they’re everywhere. That’s right, the cicadas have made their once-every-17-years visit and have settled on the woods near our house like the plague.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with cicadas, they are disturbing looking. Check out the picture below to see for yourself. They are about 1-1/2 to 2 inches long, have bright red eyes and when thousands of them gather together they make a sound like a police chase going on nearby. And apparently they’ve chosen my neighborhood as their headquarters. I’m not kidding, it looks like a Stephen King novel outside our condo. They are everywhere!

And while that’s bad news for most people, the dogs are ecstatic. You see, they eat them. Or more accurately, they devour them. It’s been nearly impossible for me to walk my dogs because from the moment we step outside their main mission is to eat as many cicadas as possible. Even more disturbing than eating the dead ones, is when they get a hold of a live cicada. They snap it up and sometimes you can see and hear the cicada still buzzing around in their mouths. That’s gross enough, but walking the dogs is becoming harmful to my health.

I walk them using one leash attached to a double lead, and keep in mind these are two 55-pound dogs. When they set their sights on a cicada, they both bolt as hard as they can towards it, yanking my arm out of the socket in the process. Not to mention they dart to and fro trying to get them, meaning they’re constantly tripping me up. But the funniest thing is when the cicadas are airborne. My dogs, usually two of the laziest creatures on Earth, become doggie ninjas as they jump up as high as they can to snatch the bugs out of mid-air. And as cool as that can look at times, just try to imagine walking two dogs who are trying to run every which way to eat live superbugs and then jumping up and snapping their jaws to get the airborne ones.

Sometimes I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew with two dogs, two cats and a baby. But then one or all of them does something cute and I couldn’t imagine life any other way.

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One thought on “Caring for the 4-Legged Kids

  1. Although I am sorry for your suffering, I am thrilled to hear that we aren’t the only people cursed with a cicada addicted dog. The topper came yesterday- finding the undigested bits of cicadas surrounding a dried pool of vomit at our slider (at least he tried to get outside to be sick)! Those beady little bug-eyes don’t digest by the way.

    My wife took our Lab for a visit to Truro last week, and he was clearly agitated at not being able to flush any cicada snacks from the shrubbery. My wife is concerned that he might need a bug detox by the time this infestation is over…

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