This is my apology to Watson. The baby gets all the attention the dog used to get. The dog gets fewer walks and fewer pets. We used to fawn over Watson. Now all the praise is for the new kid on the block. When Declan is awake, the majority of the feedback toward the dog is negative. Don’t eat that. Don’t step on the baby. Stop whining. Stop barking. No, we’re not stopping to sniff that.
Watson used to be our baby. We showered him with attention, took him on two walks a day, let him up on the couch or the bed to hang out with us. Now, he mostly just gets pets late at night, after Declan has gone to bed. And even then, they don’t last as long as he’d like.
We got him before we were married. He was 18 months old. Now Watson is 7. We don’t have a yard for him. He has gained weight. Sometimes he seems depressed. I feel like I’ve failed him. I always wanted him to have a yard.
Before long, Declan and Watson will be buddies. Already they conspire together. Declan has started intentionally dropping food for the dog. He thinks it’s funny. Watson thinks it’s tasty. Today, they seemed to be pairing up to drive me mad. I left the room for a second and Declan immediately crawled toward a dog toy. He nearly had it in his mouth when I caught him. I put the toy up on a shelf and left the room again, at which point Watson went straight for one of Declan’s toys and picked it up. Seriously, you two?
But mostly Watson seems annoyed by the baby. He understands that Declan is getting my attention at his expense. He tries to insert himself, even sits between me and the baby. But then I just tell him to move. And so he does. And I feel bad.
Even as I write this, he’s staring at me, wondering: Are you going to notice me? Or should I just sleep?
The only response is lip service, but I hope it’s true. One day soon, Watson, we’ll give you more attention and energy than we do right now. And we’ll have a yard for you to run around in. I know you don’t really understand it. But we still love you.