How can something so cute make me this sad...
April 9, 2011 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Our dog gives all her love to my husband, but I do the bulk of the work. How do I deal with the hurt feelings?

Our 4.5 month old puppy Belle is quite the handful-- 35 pounds of teething puppy is a lot of puppy. She's very smart and training is going well, though as a Husky/Malamute she's also very stubborn- of course she knows how to sit, and will be happy to do so, provided she also would like to sit.

It's been a challenging couple of months since we got her, and part of it for me is that I'm literally with her all day long. My husband and I own a business; she comes to work with us and spends her day in the office (with lots of trips and walks outside). My husband is the face of the business and manages all the staff and the operations in the shop, and is in and out of the office in the front throughout the day. I'm in the office all day by myself, with Belle. As a result, I do almost all of the walks and discipline and training. I'm the source of the bulk of the treats (mostly in the course of training), and I'm also her playmate for all intents and purposes. I shower her with love and fun and rules and all the things a puppy needs and deserves. We share the duties at home, but that's only about 3-4 hours of each day-- the rest of her day is spent primarily with just me.

My husband is her alpha-male-- this was easy for him to establish as he's an alpha-male in the people world too. It has been harder for me to establish that I'm an alpha too, and it seems to be a work in progress, but she definitely knows that I'm above her in the pack. We are careful to make sure that we are training and disciplining her in the same manner (a united front to prevent confusion). I am the one who feeds her, mostly because I'm the one who's there but also to help establish that I'm just as much of an alpha as my husband.

The source of my sadness is this: she doesn't seem to love me, even though I (by necessity) do most of the work. She adores my husband and really, males in general, but her preference to him over me just... really hurts my feelings. This isn't rational-- I know that this is simply how it's going to be and that she probably prefers males, and that he will always be the "most alpha". He also gets to waltz in and get love and greetings because he's simply not there all the time and he's not the one who's saying "no" all day long. I also know that my care and love for her won't change (and I swear, every time the hurt piles up and I decide "fine, I'll ignore you too, then", I last all of ten minutes of pouting and then I'm back to worrying about her safety, taking her outside, and putting out all that love that I just spent ten minutes being sad about not getting back). So yeah, it's not rational, but this is how I feel and I'm hoping you can tell me how you've dealt with the sadness, because I'm devoted to her health and safety and happiness and am pretty sure that things won't change.

I know that this plays out in many households. Can anyone relate-- and how did you deal with the hurt feelings?
posted by mireille to Pets & Animals (32 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You're reading far too much into this.

I'm in the office all day by myself, with Belle.

This might be the problem. Something to distract you from your relationship with the dog might prevent you from being so deeply involved and hurt by this situation.
posted by fire&wings at 3:24 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Don't have any kids then, they'll break your heart even worse.

Huskies are pretty loyal dogs, they will bond with 1 person to the exclusion of others. If you wanted a dog to love indiscriminately, you should have gotten a lab or a golden.

Get over it and enjoy what you get from the dog and don't be jealous of your husband is the only advise I can give you.
posted by TheBones at 3:25 PM on April 9, 2011

Your dog is not the source of your hurt feelings. Belle is incapable of acting with intent to hurt your feelings. Those feelings are based on your perception of your family's (pack's ;) relationship network and (to an extent) on an unfair anthropomorphizing of Belle's intentions.

That said, there's probably nothing you can change about Belle to improve the way you feel; the change has to be in you and your situation. It's not the dog's fault you and your husband have arranged things the way they are. Belle can't understand your emotions relating to her, but your husband can. Talk with him and discuss ways you can alter the current arrangement so's you feel a bit better about your responsibilities to and relationship with your dog. If part of the problem is your jealousy over joyous reunions, then engineer some joyous reunions with Belle for yourself. Work with your husband so that you don't have to be with her every. single. moment. and you'll be able to enjoy the font of love that is your dog without any jealousy or emotional distress.
posted by carsonb at 3:25 PM on April 9, 2011 [8 favorites]

It would probably benefit you to have a couple of extra sessions with a good trainer just to make sure you are not communicating something to the dog that you are not intending.
posted by Anitanola at 3:32 PM on April 9, 2011

I felt the same way with our German Shepherd. She would go nuts when my husband came home and he didn't even like her much. She was forever going to him for pets and loves and he was just pushing her away.

Then one day I left her home with him and ran some errands. It was the first time she'd been left with him without me (usually we'd both be gone.) When I got home from my trip I found out that she had totally lost it while I was gone. She was pacing around, looking out the windows, whining and whimpering the whole time. My husband said it was really irritating.

She *never* did that when anyone else left. That's when I knew I was really her favorite.
posted by TooFewShoes at 3:38 PM on April 9, 2011 [13 favorites]

this is simply how it's going to be and that she probably prefers males, and that he will always be the "most alpha".

This isn't necessarily so, and don't take it as a given. You may be missing the signals she loves you now, but as you build trust with her and maintain patience, I am certain you will feel loved by her. It takes time, and it may take as long as her growing out of puppyhood. It will also be helped along by the second point...

He also gets to waltz in and get love and greetings because he's simply not there all the time and he's not the one who's saying "no" all day long.

I mean this in the kindest way, and understand that there are work roles involved, but I have to wonder if there's a more fair way to share the day time care of your pup, with more equal roles in her care. It can only help all three of you.

Belle is stunning by the way, and yes, that combination of breeds will be a handful for anyone. I'd also be looking at the things she's responsive to (affection? play? treats? a ride in the car? a playdate?) and bond with her through those things.
posted by vers at 3:55 PM on April 9, 2011

I would lose no time finding and reading the mysteries of Susan Conant:

# A New Leash on Death (1990) ISBN 1557733856
# Dead and Doggone (1990) ISBN 1557734259
# A Bite of Death (1991) ISBN 1557734909
# Paws Before Dying (1991) ISBN 1557735506
# Gone to the Dogs (1992) ISBN 0553297341


In these first books, at least, the mystery plots are merely an excuse to explore the personality of the Malamute-- both male and female (Rowdy and Kimi)-- in great depth. They're lots of fun (so are the dogs) and I'm almost certain they'll help reconcile you to the things about your dog that bother you but that you may not succeed in changing.

I go along with TooFewShoes in thinking that she loves you more, actually, but more as an equal rather than a superior. I'd prefer that, really.
posted by jamjam at 4:20 PM on April 9, 2011

All dogs are different. Some dogs are very preferential of one gender over another. Different breeds tend to have different personalities, too.

In our household, we have a guest dog (about one year running) and she clearly views me as the alpha male -- but showers cuddling and affection on the females. It's irritating in its own way. On the other hand, I have a cat who is 100% devoted to me (he and I were alone in an apartment for most of his first year), and has only gradually expanded his sociability to other household members.

You may be over-thinking this. Or you may have gotten the wrong dog for you two. Or maybe you need another animal, like a cat. I don't think there's one way to solve this, but I suggest that any thought you have of changing the dog is probably futile and can only lead to more frustration.
posted by dhartung at 4:33 PM on April 9, 2011

First, I think you should forget the "alpha" stuff, it just doesn't have much useful to do with domestic dogs, and it tends to set up unnecessarily adversarial relationships. Maybe read some Jean Donaldson, Suzanne Clothier or Ian Dunbar to get a more accurate view of dog behavior.

I think you should take her to training classes (positive and fun, obedience or rally or agility). Rewarding work is the best relationship builder there is for dogs and people.

I sense a bit of a negative tone toward the dog in your post, I'd put money on the dog sensing that too. Dogs like who they like, fair or not, but you can certainly do a lot to make your dog enjoy your company more. The easiest way to convince a dog of something is to make it true - if you want your dog to like you better, find ways to interact with her that she enjoys.
posted by biscotti at 4:37 PM on April 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

Huskies are pack oriented dogs. They are definitely into following the Alpha around. Alpha wins hands down; however, as they grow, huskies will also occasionally challenge the Alpha... That's in their nature. With that said, they will adhere to a greater depth of the hierarchy.

To make sure you don't have any other problems you need to establish yourself as also a dominant party in the house - seriously. You want to be beta, and your new puppy is gamma - with the firm understanding that if you have a baby, the baby becomes gamma and the husky goes to delta.

You won't get followed like your husband when he is around; but the dog will love you and mostly listen to you. That may sound like a bummer, but as the unfortunate Alpha in my house that means I have Delta Squad and Epsilon Squad (The husky was bumped down a notch by our older shepherd) under my feet constantly, bringing me toys, making eyes at the leashes, taking a cane and a hat and tap-dancing in-front of the television...whatever - the point is - they do not give me a break. Right now, I have two large dogs directly under my feet while my wife can easily (as easy as it is for a pregnant woman) get off the couch and walk to any other room...

And to make things clear, there have been times in the epsilon is vying against alpha for dominance routine where i have literally had to pin my dog and bite the scruff of his neck and growl at him to make my point... If she doesn't think you are beta and she thinks she is - that isn't a bad technique to make sure she knows who is in charge.
posted by Nanukthedog at 4:40 PM on April 9, 2011

I don't think you're reading too much into this, it is a reasonable reaction. You give a lot to this creature (you sound like GREAT OWNERS!) and it can be heartbreaking not to get something back out of that. Seriously, dogs can be sexist. They can actually have a lot of -isms, but that's a whole different discussion.

It sounds like you have to be the heavy a lot of the time, and I can see how that might wear on your relationship with her. Is it possible to reverse roles with your husband on the weekends? The other piece to this puzzle is that she's still a growing pup, and it is very possible that this is a phase. I'm a vet, and I've had dogs that preferred my husband at certain times in our life, and then went on to switch allegiances.

The advice to do some classes with her is good, if you think that would be fun for you, too.

Good luck, she's super cute! (hope you have a great vacuum cleaner!}
posted by Nickel Pickle at 4:47 PM on April 9, 2011

Thanks for the answers thus far. To be honest I feel better just for having asked the question.

I suppose I should have mentioned my husband's part in this-- he is very empathetic and we're both trying to find ways to get me some separation from her to make it all a bit less intensive for me, but also to encourage some of those "oh-my-god-where-have-you-been" feelings/greetings (which do happen very sporadically). Ironically, for the first week after we brought her home she was very clingy with me (as everything was new to her and I was the one constant in her day), and my husband was feeling kind of jealous and left out and thought it might always be like that. So yeah, he's very much on my side in trying to find ways to make everyone happier-- after all, he can completely relate to my feelings-- and as we're coming out of the busy season in our industry (we're a 24/7 shop) there will be more and more opportunities for me to get out of the office and the house and for him to take on more of the responsibilities. Based on some of your answers, that gives me renewed hope for making the situation better for everyone. We've got two cats and we can't have children; our animals are our little family.

We decided on a Husky because they aren't one-man dogs-- we knew she would be spending time at the shop with us and we didn't want a protective dog "greeting" the customers. We also live in a super-remote town in the far North where a Husky is very comfortable (I'd go so far as to say ecstatic) during the long winters.

Unfortunately this remote location doesn't have a dog trainer-- the nearest obedience classes are a 5.5 hour drive away. We read lots of books and do research online and we're doing our very best.

I really do feel lighter-- thanks for the advice and the empathy.
posted by mireille at 4:56 PM on April 9, 2011

Then get a clicker tricks book and teach her a new trick every week! Start with Melissa Alexander or Karen Pryor. There are also tons of great resources on the internets.
posted by biscotti at 5:01 PM on April 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

I feel that I should point out that your dog is square in the middle of what I would consider the "furry jerk" stage of puppy-hood. When I was at home with both of my dogs when they were puppies (we have two Papillons), I had a hard time because they weren't as into me as I was into them. That changed dramatically when they were about a year old, though one dog favors me and the other favors my husband. Bigger dogs have a longer time to mature, and I'm not sure where the Husky breed falls as far as adolescence/puppy-hood. Give it a bit more time. Make sure you're consistent and exercise her a lot.
posted by Issithe at 5:12 PM on April 9, 2011

I cannot help you with your specific problem, but I wanted to support you on the choice of breed (or maybe the rejection of other breeds). I am close with several of those everybody-loving labs who *definitely* favor one of their owners. It seems to relate to the sex of the original owner (i.e. the original owner was a woman, therefore the dog seems to relate better with the wife). Incidentally, 'the original owner' I refer to is the one that the dog spent the most time with as a puppy and during training, even though there were other people in the household. So I think it sounds right that Belle is probably closer to you than you think and its the absent parent effect that is showing right now. Puppies like novelty right? I hope this all turns out happily for you :)
posted by Tandem Affinity at 5:25 PM on April 9, 2011

Hang in there. You will see that Belle does love you. She is still a young, growing, learning pup and it's only been a few months; give it some more time.

I can relate. My dog is so loving, loyal, and my partner, even though she is technically my dog and I do 99% of her care, feeding, walking, and training and am with her all day. Oh, but when he comes home each night, such joyous whining, wagging, frolicking, and general doggy rapture. She loves to snuggle with him on the couch, but will rarely do the same with me. For a while I was a bit jealous and sad. I even wondered if I'd made a mistake adopting her, that maybe she didn't like me. And I worried that we weren't bonding, even after several months.

Eventually I realized that she does love me too. I think she shows it differently because she is with me much more of the time, so I'm less "special". Like TooFewShoes, a few times when I left her for several hours with my boyfriend, when I returned I did get the joyous over-the-top celebration and he said she cried while I was gone. And we both notice that she obeys me and listens to me more than him. She turns to me if she is nervous or afraid. These things can be subtle.

I think part of it too was that bonding can take some time. She was an adult when we got her but we did go through a somewhat stressful period teaching her basic manners. As she became better-trained and an "easier" dog, we bonded more because I had more mental energy just to enjoy and love her rather than stress and worry about her, and being with me was more fun for her (like going on outings now that she can behave herself). Sometimes now she looks at me with a doggy grin and makes eye contact, like "aren't we having fun?!" I'm anthropomorphizing there but it feels like she finally knows I'm her person. She still adores my boyfriend with drooling, undying devotion, but I know she does love me as well. Dogs have plenty of love to go around!
posted by spiny at 5:35 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

Get another dog! This one will be "yours", as well as a playmate for Belle and an outlet for her energy. If you do get another one, please adopt :-)
posted by walla at 5:43 PM on April 9, 2011

To spiny and vers: I didn't have the perspective to see that there might be other ways in which she shows a bond with me-- that has made me reframe my thinking. Thank you.
posted by mireille at 6:02 PM on April 9, 2011

Some dogs are just one person dogs. Our dog is: her feelings about my husband go from warm to tepid. When we're both home, she likes to hang out with him in the mornings in bed because he is on the sunny side. She also prefers him in the park because he is happy fun time dad and chases her while I do not enjoy that. When I am gone, however, she utterly ignores him to a degree that is really something. This can go on for weeks on end if I'm on a long trip.

Me however, she loved with an unbridled devotion. I speak, she wags. She follows me everywhere, goes to bed with me, waits by the door when I'm gone, and wags her tail when I so much as cough.

Yes, she has issues and yes she is not a fan of men in general, but really: I am her person.

My husband gets to pick the next dog.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:07 PM on April 9, 2011

No advice, but we have the same thing going on here with an elderly rescue mutt, a very sweet, smart dog. I'm with her all the time, and my husband works long hours away from home. He gets the full roto-tail ecstatic greeting every time, and she sometimes doesn't even look up when I return from running an errand. It helps a bit that he swears she's anxious until I return when I go out and he's there. Anyway, I love my withholding girl anyway, and wish you the best with yours.
posted by Lizzle at 6:26 PM on April 9, 2011

mireille, a year from now, you will look back on this and wonder what your worry was -- true! I am wishing you many happy years with your Belle. You'll see the signs she listens to and is happy and comfortable with you (the ecstatic greeting is more like a release from a panic attack -- no need to miss that, really).

Every dog will teach us to have patience, humility and a sense of humor, they really will.
posted by vers at 6:44 PM on April 9, 2011

My husband and I have a lab, she is 4 years old. My husband is a truck driver and is gone 2-3 weeks at a time, I am the one who takes care of her in his absence. BUT, she absolutely adores him, when he is home she only has eyes for him. When he comes home she goes beserk whining, jumping, etc. I was gone for a week not long ago and my husband stayed home with her, when I came home she was just happy to see me, she walked up to me and let me pet her. My husband did promise me she was constantly looking down our driveway when it was my normal time to come home after work, but he may just be trying to make me feel better.
posted by sandyp at 6:48 PM on April 9, 2011

I have a nearly three year old Husky. At about the 6 month mark I didn't think I would make it, the pup was driving me nuts, still had sharp little puppy teeth, had more energy than I could handle. She also went to work with me every day, I was pretty much with her 24/7 (and still am), however she is SOOOO excited to see my better half when we arrive home......

It will get better...

my words of advice:

Don't get so hung up in that alpha dog stuff. Don't think of "motives" for the dog's behavior, other than attention and food, the dog could care less! Don't see the dog as a person, the dog is a dog, it is responding as a dog, it is NOT a child, you are NOT a parent to the dog. Hang in there, things will settle down in a few months... In reality, it sounds like you're on the right track....

And, Huskies are GREAT dogs, fun, lots of energy, friendly and very smart (too smart sometimes).
required dog photo.
posted by tomswift at 7:07 PM on April 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just n'thing the advice to forget about, or at least de-emphasize, all that alpha stuff. It's pretty irrelevant.
posted by Neofelis at 7:15 PM on April 9, 2011

Is it possibly just a male/female thing? A former girlfriend and I had a pair of dogs: the male preferred her, while the female preferred me. Now, my wife and I have a male, and he seems quite content to sleep in the bed with her, but less interested in doing it with me.
posted by Gilbert at 7:53 PM on April 9, 2011

Part of a dog's job description is to make SOME human miserable.... at least one.

At the same time, they are bound by dog union rules to make someone really happy.

Often it's the same person, but not always.

All kidding aside... it's a dog. It doesn't reason all that much, but it emotes a lot. It's probably not healthy to be captive to the emotional gyrations of a dog, which is like a really smart 2 year old human. Would you try and reason this out with a 2 year old kid?

Wake up every day and think of how bad it would be if this were a CAT! My cats went to a special school, apparently, which teaches them how to rule me while letting me think I rule them. Good luck. Pet ownership is a controlled descent into insanity, followed by the full on version.
posted by FauxScot at 8:21 PM on April 9, 2011 [2 favorites]

When I first started dating my now-husband, my two dogs thought he was mostly an inconvenience. By the time we got married they had firmly established that they weren't HIS dogs. It was downright painful for him, to be constantly around these dogs who were friendly enough, but really didn't light up when he came home or he talked to them, not the way they did for me.

We got a third dog, HIS dog. And it made all the difference! We think we'll probably go the rest of our lives making sure we have a dog to be primarily his dog, and one to be primarily my dog.

So you're already looking at revising your view of whether your (adorable) pup really does love you and just shows it differently, and also if she might grow out of appearing to prefer your husband. If you do eventually determine that she really does prefer your husband and you don't want to just deal with it, it may be worth considering a second dog.
posted by galadriel at 10:14 PM on April 9, 2011

My girl is utterly mad about my husband, and our situation is similar to yours and that of others above: I'm the one who is with her all day, I'm the one who feeds and trains and disciplines. He's the one that she goes batshit over when he comes home. BUT, basically, I'm like the mom and the boss, and he's the fun playmate. If I am gone, she whines and paces incessantly, even though she's with her OMG ♥♥♥♥ SO MUCH SWEETDADDY O' MINE. She can't relax until I come back. I'm her base.

Also, I very much have the impression that according to doggy sociological stuff, since it's very clear that I am the top dog (I don't practice that Dog Whisperer alpha stuff at all though), she's much more careful about what liberties she takes with me. She can be demanding of attention from him, but is more submissive (or willing to be subordinate, I guess I should say; she's not really a submissive type at all, though she appeared that way when we got her) with me; she waits for me to initiate. If I stroke her as she's walking by, she'll stand stock still and soak it up for as long as I'm willing to continue. If I stop, she might lay down (and possibly roll over with her belly up) and look at me appealingly, but she won't push it. With my husband, she'll jump all over and nose him, and stick her head under his hand, paw him, etc. But with him, she also chooses when and if she wants to obey commands; he can be telling her, "sit... sit... Sit!" and if she's not in the mood, she'll just be looking around, like, eh? And if I then tell her to "sit" – she does it.

I think in some ways it's like the typical mom/dad family dichotomy that was mostly the norm in my childhood era; Dad was the more exotic of the beloved parents, because he wasn't around as much as the stay-at-home mom, and he also wasn't necessarily as involved in the mundane, unfun stuff, like cleaning your room and brushing your teeth. My dad made special rituals because he didn't get to spend as much time with us (Sunday sundaes! Saturday walks to the library! great stuff!), and, silly as it sounds to compare, my husband has special (sometimes otherwise verboten) rituals with our dog: love fest on the couch when he comes home! Treats for nothing! Tidbits when he's cooking! But my dog is lying here perfectly calm and lazy and happy at my feet, even though my husband just left to go to a meeting. If it were the other way around, she'd be anxious and upset. (Also not the best scenario, but it's not something I've been disciplined enough to address.)

As for her own culture, she vastly prefers big macho male dogs, and only barely tolerates or dislikes or sometimes hates other females. She also is supremely irritated with young males. She's like the Mean Girl of dogs or something. So, there is some sort of alpha male preference thing as well. But I feel completely sure that whatever she feels about me transcends any male/female kind of preference thing. I'm the anchor of her world, and the fact that we are mutually calm and happy is because there is some mutual agreement about our roles.

I'm willing to forgo being the love object my husband is if it means that I'm providing the necessary structure for her to be good, healthy, and happy. She "loves" me, but it's not a choice, like romantic love. She needs me, and depends on me, and everything in her life is framed with reference to me; I'm like Magnetic North. I'm also kind and patient and loving, but she's a dog, and doesn't make extremely fine distinctions that way. Even a horrible, abusive, neglectful dog owner will very often be "loved" by his/her dog. What I get out of loving her and caring for her is more complicated than achieving affection from a dog, obviously. She was a rescue, so I got to see her change dramatically under my care; I learned over time that she is really quite headstrong and willful, yet she agrees to abide by my rules and cooperate with almost everything I want [98%; Vet visits and baths are slightly iffy]; she pays constant attention to me – everything I do/say/wear, my every facial expression, every sound I utter, is of absolute riveting fascination to her (because this is how she figures out details pertinent to her interests); she's an outlet for my excess love and affection, and my theory is that many/most of us have more love and affection inside than there are uncomplicated and/or willing recipients on the outside.

Don't worry about this, really. Like any child, she takes you for granted. The freedom to take you for granted is one of the essential aspects of love that we grant in a dependent relationship like child to parent, or pet to owner Also, it's so early! Less than five months! You two have so much to go through together. Just as in any relationship, all that stuff – the good and the bad – binds you closer together.
posted by taz at 5:33 AM on April 10, 2011 [4 favorites]

You've gotten great responses here, and I'm glad you feel better already! Just an amplification: she's so so young (and completely gorgeous) so try to resist getting locked in to what's happening now, it's just this part, there's so much more to come! And, I would take a look at feeling "so sad," as if it's all just cruel fate -- this is very much in your control, it's just another puppy-raising challenge, nothing personal.
posted by thinkpiece at 7:27 AM on April 10, 2011

So, quick update:

Last night, after reading all of your responses, I spent some time thinking about all the ways in which she does show a bond. I'm half-surprised I hadn't noticed them before, but half-not: it's easy to lose perspective when you're so damn close to the subject. I realized that I'm the one who she allows to clean her paws with less fuss when they're muddy; that she quietly follows me around the house to lay down near me when he's not around; that I'm the one she brings toys to (constantly, for better or worse); and that I'm the one she hides behind when she's unsure about a stranger. And so many more tiny little things that all add up.

She may grant him the elaborate greetings and is generally more showy with her affection and "listens" to him more, but there are lots of ways in which she shows it to me as well.

Last night I stepped out of my self-pity and taught her a new trick in five minutes flat. My husband couldn't have done that-- and I was so happy and laughing and had a great time showing her something new. Watching a puppy get so excited about "shake a paw" that she tries both paws at once is hilarious.

As for getting a second dog-- our town finally got a Humane Society and I'm starting to volunteer there next week. Should we find a good match for us, we may very well adopt a new family member in the coming year.
posted by mireille at 7:52 AM on April 10, 2011 [9 favorites]

"oh-my-god-where-have-you-been" feelings/greetings

Do you really want to encourage this? Overly enthusiastic greetings with jumping and slobber can be a big pain, and we trained our terrier to greet us and visitors with something less manic.
posted by Ideefixe at 10:27 AM on April 10, 2011

So, I wanted to report back for anyone who might come upon this thread in the future. I've been thinking about writing an update for a while now, and as I sat down to type this I realize that Belle is one year old today.

Everything changed, over time. I'd say it was at around 7 months or so before we started to see a "dog" under all that "puppy". And that dog, Belle as she is now, is extremely sweet and very smart, and the love she shows me is even more apparent now than it was when I began looking for it, upon your advice. There remains an imbalance but it feels right somehow, like Belle is my husband's dog more than mine, and that's okay. A puppy at 4.5 months old is a very difficult thing-- a puppy at 7 or 8 months, is easier, and at one year old I'm madly in love with Belle and we have a really nice life, all of us.

When Belle was 10 months old we adopted another puppy (Maia, an impossibly tiny and beautiful husky) and they get along wonderfully. And yes, Maia (now 6 months old) is currently more mine, more devoted to and attached to me. I love them both pretty fiercely.

I guess I just wanted to say to anyone who ended up with the same feelings-- it gets better. A lot of it in my case was that Belle was very young, I was very tired and lonely and sick of winter and a million things-- but her attachments weren't apparent then the way we thought they were-- the real bonds changed and grew over time. It's like the early attachments were thin lines and the new ones are complex webs developed with shared experiences, if that makes any sense. It got much better than better, really.
posted by mireille at 5:40 PM on November 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

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