Friday, July 08, 2005

Soliloquy: For Guh

I think the first word out of Sabra merits a few words from me:


This is Gus:


I would guess it's common for couples to have a child-pet before they try out parenthood on the real thing. In our case, the child is Gus. I refuse to use a term like fur-baby, but raising the topic of Gus usually turns me into that Looney Tunes monster-manchild that used to love on the reluctant Daffy Duck: "I want to hug him and squeeze him and kiss him and love him and comb his hair..."

Gus came to us four years ago, within weeks of our temporary move to Portland, Oregon. We had a big new house and no bossy pet-hating landlord and it was clear that what we needed to make our domesticity complete was a cat. We went to the pound and checked out plenty of cats, but it was a just-for-the-heck-of-it stop in the small animal room that ended in the misty-eyed bliss that comes with love at first sight. He was stuck in there with a bunch of cute but pissy and antisocial chinchillas, and we just had to bring him home.

Gus was litterbox trained even before we met him. He moved right into our kitchen, with his little box under the computer desk, and Michael proceeded with plans to install a cat door nearby. Gus spent most of his days slacking on the deck and making the squirrels nervous before climbing back in through the cat door/Gus door at nightfall to lie under the woodburning stove while we carried out our nightly rituals of three hour dinners and wine drunks. He made the move with us back to San Francisco, where he weathered the brunt of my pregnancy-induced maternal infatuation with his well-being. I made him five salads a day, stuffed him with yogurt chips, bought him wind-up zoo animals and a little yellow matchbox Hummer to toss around the kitchen. I brushed him and clipped his fingernails much more often than was necessary, and he patiently endured.

As my pregnancy progressed and we began thinking about birth plans and labor strategies, I compiled a little photo album of our best Gus pictures that I planned to meditate on when the contractions became too much. As it turned out, when the contractions started I couldn't bear to look at it. Gus, so calm, so quiet, so sweet, so composed... it just seemed wrong to stare at pictures of him while I was writhing, screeching, wheezing.

I worried that little Gus wouldn't get enough lovin' after the new baby came. It's true that he did get much less attention after Sabra moved in, and I'm sure he was relieved. But that only lasted until Sabra was old enough to take notice of him. Now, "Guh! Guh!" is the morning song we hear from her crib at the break of dawn. Getting out of bed means going straight to the kitchen to give Gus his morning salad, and she wouldn't stand for any variation in routine.

Now that she's more mobile I'm having to step in more often to protect Guh from her copious affection, and now that she's more verbal her vocabulary has expanded to include her other favorite things: "(ba)Nana!" "Cat!" (a stuffed one) "Da!" (never the oft-coached Dada) "ClapClap!" and, occasionally, "Mamamamama." But Gus was her first word, and he was her first love. Which just stands to reason, and just reconfirms that Sabra is taking her place in our little family; Gus was our first love, too. Love ya, Gus!


At 2:49 PM, Blogger Apartment Number One said...

Hi--found my way here from CityMama's blog. Love this post. I've started to have baby fever, but not quite ready to try motherhood in SF--too expensive for us--and waiting for my husband to finish grad school. Recently, we decided we had to have a dog now! We needed something to play with and love...we're still working on getting a dog (dog friendly landlord in process of selling apartment building to unknown-dog-status landlord). Anyway, enjoying your blog.

At 2:41 PM, Blogger llamaschool said...

Hey! My first commenter! I started this blog months ago, but only published it a few days ago. So glad to have some feedback.
Hope your new dog is to you as Gus is to us. Oh, and hope you decide to stick it out in the city when you decide it's time for a human baby. We the maternally minded need more represention 'round here:)

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