“Poor Oscar.” I think I’ve heard that two-word phrase about 400 times in the last year. “Poor Oscar. What about Oscar? What will you do with Oscar? Is he going to be okay when the baby comes? Are you guys going to forget about him?” Of all the baby advice and questions we got in the past year — and, yeah, there was a lot — the demotion of our beloved Australian Shepherd was the most popular.
But as I walked around Fresh Pond with Oscar yesterday at 7:30 on a 19-degree morning, I realized something: It hasn't happened.
Oscar is still a huge part of the Briddon pack. Is Oscar our No. 1 priority? Well, no. I mean, we do have this little 12-week-old human living with us now. Despite being tiny, she takes up a lot of our time, energy, and attention. Plus, we wouldn’t be very good parents if we cuddled with Oscar and gave Belle a water dish and heartworm medication. And no, Oscar doesn’t get to sleep in our bed at night anymore. (Yes, Oscar slept in our bed. Feel free to judge us.)
But Oscar is still, unquestionably, forgive the pun, top dog. Here are five reasons why:
- He gets to spend more time with Bridget. Bridget has been home on maternity leave for almost three months and she has one more month to go. In between changings, naps, and tantrums, Oscar has received a fair amount of one-on-one time with his Mom.
- He gets more exercise. Oscar’s favorite activity, aside from eating, is chasing a tennis ball around Fresh Pond. He’d do it all day every day and twice on Sunday if we had the free time and the energy. Coincidentally, Belle loves walks around Fresh Pond, too. (I mean, she hasn’t said so. She loves walks and we assume she prefers a circle around a body of water.) That means more family time at our favorite Cambridge stomping ground.
- He gets fed earlier. As I mentioned, Oscar really likes to eat. He’s one of those dogs who eats his meals in about 11 seconds. He often gags on it because he doesn’t breathe, which is both disgusting and fairly hilarious. And when Oscar wakes up in the morning, he wants nothing more than to eat immediately. In our pre-baby life, that meant about 7 AM. Nowadays, he eats when we wake up at 6 and sometimes 5. Lucky, right?
- He gets more treats. There’s one sure-fire way to make Oscar happy: A treat. He knows that word better than “sit,” “come,” or “stay.” Hell, he probably knows I’m typing the word treat right now. T-r-e-a … see, he just asked for one. So, when Oscar misbehaves now, we take the easy way out and give him a treat. Licking Belle’s face? Here’s a treat. Humping things? Treat time! Barking incessantly at the TV? You guessed it. Let’s get a treat, buddy!
- He gets more bro time. There are certain activities the Briddon girls – Bridget and Belle – like to engage in without the boys. Breastfeeding and bad TV are the top two. (Our daughter cried recently when I turned her away from an episode of The Blacklist.) So when Oscar and I are left out in the cold, we have more time to just chill. Mostly, we bump fists/paws and watch Syracuse basketball on the iPad. It’s pretty great.
I realize, of course, that we’ve been at this (human) parenting thing for only three months. Lots will change. And Belle will continue to drain our time and energy. But she’ll grow to love Oscar. And when she starts eating solid food, Oscar will really, really love her. Until then, he’s doing just fine. In fact, I think he needs another treat …