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It’s a Dog’s Life for Many Moms

Every mother should own a dog, even if her child is allergic and has to sleep in a tent in the backyard. (I’m referring to the kid, of course, and not the canine living outdoors). If a mother’s love has no boundaries, then her need to nurture extends to the four-legged kind as well. My toy poodle Luci is an integral part of my family—more so than some of my blood relatives—and she poses for all of our holiday cards. Weighing less than a gallon milk jug, my fluffy apricot pup provides the kind of comfort, companionship and unconditional love that no one else comes close to. I can’t remember the last time my husband licked my face or my kids brought me the newspaper without expecting an allowance in return.

I didn’t always feel this way. I never had a pet growing up, except two hamsters, a crawdad and a goldfish. So when my kids begged me for a dog of their own, I tried to convince them otherwise and bribed them with an iguana. I even wrote an article for the Pet Gazette on why I didn’t want a dog, including the fact that my husband Scott suffered from animal-induced asthma. Plus, my kids are finally potty trained and sleep through the night—why would I want to start over with a puppy at this time in my life?

Then everything changed one fateful summer day three years ago when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sunday edition landed on our driveway, and we don’t even subscribe to it. I remember the strange sight of Scott sitting at the kitchen table in his flannel boxers with his head buried in a cereal bowl and the classifieds. I assumed he was circling ads for Toyotas, not toy poodles. After breakfast, I knew I was in trouble when he walked out the door with a grin on his face and the newspaper rolled under his arm. His last words to me that morning were, “Don’t worry, honey. I’m just going to look at the new puppies. I won’t buy any.”

Needless to say, when Scott showed up at our friend’s pool party later that day with what looked like a bloated hamster in the palm of his hand, my heart melted into my margarita. Like any proud papa he announced, “It’s a girl!” Everyone rushed to see the six-week-old puppy with a little pink tongue and stub of a tail. We wasted no time giving the funny little redhead her name when everyone agreed, “We Love Lucy!”

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m crazy about my dog, or maybe they just think I’m crazy. When Luci was the size of a Beanie Baby, I carried her around town before Paris Hilton made it hip to wear a pooch inside a designer purse. Luci and I dined together at Cardwell’s on the Plaza, shopped for back-to-school snacks at Sam’s Club, and picked up the kids in carpool line everyday. Maybe I love her so much because she satisfies my baby fix without the hassles of diapers, pacifiers, and colic. To be honest, I would rather carry a pooper-scooper than a bottle.

Unlike my children, my dog will never grow up. Luci loves to nap anywhere and anytime. My kids would rather torture me than go to sleep. Luci lets me hold her like a favorite stuffed teddy bear and smooch her face whenever I want. My kids are embarrassed when I kiss their forehead in the school parking lot. Luci is always in a good mood and ready to play. My kids ride a daily emotional roller coaster, being best friends and worst enemies in the time it takes me to make a peanut butter sandwich. When I baby talk to Luci, she looks me in the eye and cocks her head like she understands. My kids speak a language all their own and tune me out after only a few sentences. Luci still bathes in the kitchen sink. I’m lucky if my kids wash their hands without being reminded. Luci follows me around wherever I go and sits patiently next to me in a chair when I write at the computer. My kids seem to disappear whenever I need their help with anything. I rarely discipline Luci because she usually learns from her mistakes, like when she chewed an electric cord and then literally flew across the room in shock. When my kids fight with each other, I send them to their rooms for punishment, but it never seems to make a difference for very long. Luci snuggles every night in my cozy bed surrounded by fluffy pillows and down blankets. If my daughter wakes up in the middle of the night, she lays on the floor next to me.

After a stressful day, when Luci jumps into my lap and curls up like a roly poly, she is as warm and soft as a cashmere blanket. In moments like this, my dog pampers me like a long soak in a tub of Calgon, a one-pound Hershey bar with almonds, and a glass of Chardonnay all rolled into one furry animal. Nothing is more relaxing, except maybe a day spa, and like that is going to happen.

“The Mishegas of Motherhood” is the creation of Ellie S. Grossman, a St. Louis freelance writer and stay-at-home-mom who never stays home. Her stories are inspired by the real life of her family, including her two children, toy poodle named Luci, and her husband, but not necessarily in that order. Feel free to send any comments, prayers or recipes to ellie@mishegasofmotherhood.com.