Our three dogs are beyond spoiled — as in, they lounge around on leather furniture, eat expensive dog food, and get plenty attention whenever they want.
When they’re outside, they can relax on a heated pad in an extra-large doghouse. If they want to stay cooler, they can stay in the other extra-large doghouse which has a flat roof that doubles as a perch to spy on the neighbors.
And if it’s past 8 p.m., the three dogs join together as a chorus to whine, yip and scratch at the back door.
What’s that? Oh, no, they aren’t being naughty. They’re simply reminding us that we would never want them to sleep outside at night. Our two black Labrador retrievers, especially, were not built to suffer the extreme elements of the Great Northwest. They consider themselves lap dogs; they are meant to stay indoors and shed as much hair as possible on our previously cream-colored Berber carpet.
But it’s OK. As our three human children — who are now ages 8, 10 and 14 — grow up, those fur babies are becoming even more precious to us.
My husband and I recently spent an entire weekend accompanied only by the dogs and our daughter’s two bunnies. It was the first time all three non-furry babies had abandoned us for an entire weekend to stay at friends’ houses.
“Aww, Buttercup says she’ll never grow up and leave us,” my husband said as he gave our 5-year-old black lab a good back scratch.
Meanwhile, our 10-year-old Italian Greyhound, Iggy, was in her preferred location: curled up on a heated blanket on my lap. She might not be the smartest dog, but if the electric blanket isn’t preheated when she arrives in the house, Iggy scratches at it. She’s decided that will get it started.
And then there was Bo-Bo, our 7-year-old black lab, who was doing whatever she wanted to at that very moment, because she’s the princess and we don’t control or keep tabs on her. Ever.
Yes, as the alpha dog, those are the rules that Bo-Bo established a long time ago. We aren’t allowed to change them. Her personality reminds me of a cat. She is much more independent than the other two dogs.
We’re a long way from being empty nesters — at least a decade, or perhaps even longer if my plan to stop time works, and our kids stop growing up so quickly. But that childless weekend was definitely a taste of what our lives could be like sans human babies.
There was far less food to cook. There were fewer dishes to wash. I went for two days without having to wipe up spilled juice, milk or Gatorade from any surfaces. And for the first time in a long time, there were zero arguments about screen time because my husband and I can regulate our own viewing habits.
Other than letting the dogs in by 8 p.m., there were no bedtime routines to follow. I didn’t even have to nag anyone to do their chores. In fact, my house was cleaner than it had been in weeks.
It’s hard to say what life will be like a decade from now, when those human babies leave the nest.
Perhaps we’ll have a cat or birds or different dogs by then. But I’m sure we’ll have some type of critters to spoil, to keep our hearts and minds busy.