When it comes to the battle of the sexes in my house, I am officially outnumbered. In addition to my husband and twin boys, we also have two male dogs. Charlie, who is nine, and Draper, who is four, are both Shiba Inus.
When we found out that we would soon have two new boys in the house, I had visions of them playing fetch (although Charlie has rarely acknowledged a tennis ball in his life), or snuggling together while I read them a book. We soon found that the reality was not so fun and cuddly.
The first phase of their new life with the babies in the house was that of confusion. Something was definitely strange in their world, so their behavior was a little off, but understandably so. But they were familiar with the concept of visitors, so they seemed to prepare to just deal with these intruders until they left.
Then came the realization that they were here to stay. For Charlie, this meant trying to get back to business as usual, with an abundance of naps and an occasional escape (taking advantage of a distracted mom). For Draper, this meant rebellion, manifesting in the destruction of items long ignored, and the marking of (indoor) territory.
This was followed by an apparent state of fear, particularly when the babies were out and about more, and starting to be mobile. He would cower and growl, or just run away. The hardest part of this phase for me (other than making sure he was always far from the babies) was that he would also cower and sometimes growl at me if I approached him. Now I was the enemy, as if he had just determined that I was responsible for this upheaval.
My feelings were hurt, but I eventually realized that this shouldn’t be surprising. I had spent the 13 weeks prior to the boys’ birth on modified bedrest, which translated into Netflix and cuddling on the couch with Draper. Now it seemed that his constant buddy was too busy for him and the Gilmore Girls.
So I gave him space, and we are still super vigilant when he is around the boys. And it is getting better. He is learning to coexist, relax in their presence, and even enjoy the food that is now frequently flung on the floor.
I’m grateful for the lessons that this fluffy nugget is teaching us. Change is hard for everyone. Sometimes we all need a little extra space, time and patience. And if you give the ones you love those things, they will come back around. At least for the food.