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Guest Blogger Jenny Feldon: The Furry Child

On Monday the Daily Fave introduced a special guest blogger: Jenny Feldon, winner
of the "Meaning of Motherhood" essay contest. See Jenny's winning essay, and read her last post today on how Jenny, mom to Eva, is also a mom to her dog Tucker...

The moment when you really feel like a mother is different for everyone. For some, it's that first ultrasound snapshot, or hearing their baby's cries in the delivery room. For others, it comes when a child lifts their arms for a hug, or learns to say "Mama."

The first time I felt like a mother was the day I got a dog. Most people think I'm crazy when I admit this. My mother, especially, has tried in vain to impress upon me that dogs are not children. Tucker may have fur, he may not have thumbs, and he may never learn to say "Mama," but he's been my child since the day I brought him home.

For Eva, it's a good thing I had Tucker first. I made mistakes with him I won't ever repeat. Like dropping him -- twice. When he arrived, he was tiny and wriggly. I was tentative and scared to hurt him. Luckily, he survived. And when Eva came home from the hospital at a mere five pounds, I was prepared. She was wriggly too. But my grasp was firm.

Property damage? I'm a pro. As a puppy, Tucker gnawed a hole in the side of our brand new bookcase and ingested one half of my best pair of stilettos. Getting mad at him didn't help. He was a puppy. He was supposed to chew stuff. Jay and I had to decide which we loved more, the dog or our belongings. We picked dog. So when Eva dumped a cup of coffee into my designer bag, when she ripped pages out my favorite cookbook and threw them in the washing machine, I skipped the getting-mad part. She was just being a baby. We kept the dog. We'll keep her too.

Tucker taught me about food strikes, endless games with the same rubber ball, ghastly messes you have no choice but to deal with. Projectile vomiting. 3am phone calls to the doctor. He showed me how amazing it is to cuddle with someone who loves you unconditionally. He demonstrated how frustrating it can be to have someone deliberately disobey you, and that adults need time-outs sometimes too. Especially when someone's just peed on the carpet.

His life hasn't been all roses since his human sister arrived on the scene. His walks are shorter and less frequent, and often interrupted by tantrums or a romp through the sprinklers. Eva loves to hang out in his bed, investigate his toys, and try to comb his fur. She's in my lap much more often than Tucker thinks she should be, and he usually loses the battle for snuggle time on the couch. But in spite of all that, he's the best big brother around. He protects her from strangers, eats the vegetables she doesn't want, and rests underneath her crib during naptime so she won't be lonely. He tears his own stuffed animals to shreds, but keeps a respectful distance from Elmo.

Having Tucker turned me into a mom. Even when he drives me crazy, even when I threaten to leave him on the sidewalk forever if he barks at the door after bedtime one more time, even on days when it feels like there isn't a single minute when something isn't trying to climb up my leg, he's my child. Fur and all.

We at the Daily Fave would like to say a big thank-you to Jenny for blogging about her journey through motherhood for us! You can continue to read Jenny's wit and wisdom on her blog, Karma, Continued. Thank you again Jenny, and congratulations on winning the essay contest!