Which one of these two adorable creatures is more stressful? The baby or the bulldog?
I'm not sure what tactics are being used to discourage teenagers from procreating these days (I remember pet eggs that needed to be cared for and dolls with the capacity to wail once upon a time), but I'd like to offer a brilliant solution which will definitely start diminishing teen pregnancy rates: force teenagers to purchase and then care for a bulldog.
Once they wipe that infected nose wrinkle for the fifth time in two days after their dog almost kills himself on a tennis ball, they'll think twice about child-rearing.
Purchasing the dog is key; that first financial setback is painful and most definitely not finite in terms of doggie expenditure. Like nursery items and buggy and everything else for baby, it simply represents the beginning of the end of all financial freedom. There are vet visits, hospital stays, expensive, special dog food, vaccines, flea and worm treatments, toys, beds and more. You'll buy insurance, then change it for a better monthly deal, and then realise all of your pet's problems are pre-existing conditions that you will never get paid back for.
I imagine this experience is akin to saving up to send your child to private school, pouring all of your money into this institution and then having your kid get kicked out. Except my bulldog doesn't come out with an education, and at least baby D would, sort-of.
Like Baby D, Bolshy puts anything and everything in his mouth these days. His preference is the dilapidated tennis ball, which he always finds in the park on our walks and then stuffs into his iron jaws to take home and chew.
Why do I allow this, you ask? Well, I don't. But I can't control my dog, and am forced to pursue him around the dog run to get him back on the lead, prized object in mouth. The only positive about this humiliating and stressful experience is that baby D finds it hilarious to see me chasing the dog around like a headless chicken, and giggles gleefully as I fall headfirst and Bolshy escapes my grasp yet again. Defeated, I march him home - tennis ball in mouth - and lock him in his cage to calm him down. No behavioural benefits come from this, but he does chew up and swallow most of the tennis ball.
Bolshy's penchant for tennis balls (and whatever else he's been scavenging, from D's rice cakes to cherries) led to a serious case of bulldog gastroenteritis two weeks ago. The poor kid vomited over 10 times, had a fever, was completely listless and depressed and had to be hospitalised. This is scary when it happens to anyone you love, canine or human, but because of bulldogs' defective respiratory systems, vomiting is particularly dangerous for him because it can lead to pneumonia or other lung-related issues. Thankfully, he swiftly returned to his robust, bouncing self, but not before spending two nights in the hospital.
I love Bolshy, so of course I was an emotional sobbing wreck this whole time. It got even worse when I saw the hospital bill.
Unlike our bulldog, Baby D still only has two full teeth and three half-teeth, so even though she is gnawing away at every book or piece of paper in sight like a little rat, her potential to do serious damage is still minimal (although she is obsessed by the idea of putting Bolshy's rubber toys in her mouth. Ew!). Bolshy, on the other hand, has fangs and lots of teeth. He also has the strongest jaws imaginable (part of the reason this tennis ball problem has gotten so out of hand) and he will chew up everything he can. He is particularly interested in shoes at the moment. Flip-flops, to be precise.
After a particularly stressful day where Bolshy devoured a flip flop (a guest's, not mine) and tried to play-bite three different peoples' toes (not baby D's - he is always controlled around her, miraculously), I threw Bolshy in the sitting room and closed the door so he could calm down. It worked.
Unfortunately, he left a big puddle of over excitement in the middle of the floor. Maybe I should invent doggie nappies?
People on the street stop me and joke that he is my "problem child" when they see him running circles around me while baby D serenely sits in her pram, doing her royal wave. The thing about Bolshy is that he's inherently lovable and the sweetest, cutest guy on earth. He's always good around Diana, and he never barks or displays aggression towards anyone, so in many ways he's a good kid. And I have a soft touch, I know.
He eats things he isn't supposed to, doesn't listen to commands, especially mine, chews up toes and shoes and still loves jumping all over people. And he still has accidents from time to time (whether from overexcitement or spite, who knows?) Anytime he has a bad episode, my in-laws look at me with concern and say, "You know you can't let Diana become like Bolshy. She needs to be disciplined."
See, I told you bulldogs were as stressful as children. And you can fail them too, like I have failed Bolshy. I wonder if Victoria Beckham feels this way about her bulldog, Coco. Somehow I doubt it.