01 December 2011

Woe is Mojo

The Mighty Mojo!
Mojo.  Sassy, snuggly, attention-craving and selectively obedient Mojo.  He was the first bundle of joy we welcomed into our family.  Rescued from the menacing streets of Alabama and later discovered by us in an ad posted on Pet Finder, he came to find tranquility on our semi-out-in-the-country property abounding with squirrels, deer, and feral cats.  Our windows are scribbled with his nose art and the corners of every room collect what he sheds.  But we don't mind--he has a personality unmatched by any pooch we've ever met.  Even his apperance is unique: a 30-pound shrinky dink German shepherd with giant bat ears and a nub where his tail should be.  Ol' Mo can be instructed to wait for a treat lying within snapping range for over a minute.  He understands the difference between "upstairs" and "downstairs".  He even knows how to use his "inside voice" when commanded to do so.  We have spent much of our time, energy, and attention to bring happiness back into this mischievous mutt's life, and he returns the favor ten-fold.  Life in the Wynne home is good.
Wynne, family of 3.
He wasn't a natural swimmer when he was introduced to the ocean, but he sure loved running through the sand and surf!
"This is how I curl up in front of the fire.  It's also my 'come hither' pose."

And all it took was bringing home a baby to cause the walls of Mojo's little Utopia to come tumbling down.

Mojo went on a mini-vacation at his favorite dogsitter's house while Michael and I were in the hospital delivering Mallory.  Tamela, who is also one of my co-workers, trains dogs on the side and is quite the Mojo fan.  At Tamela's place, Mojo can run free in her fenced-in back yard with her three dogs and is even allowed to cuddle up under the covers with her and her husband in their bed (he's not allowed on the furniture at our house).  She has to nip his behavior, though, when he goes near her cats.  He would most certainly try to nibble on a feline if she didn't draw a distinct line in the sand for him.

But since Tam had to jet to Tennessee for her son's wedding before we returned, she dropped Mojo off at our house just a couple of hours before we came home with our still-steaming baby girl.  Michael and I had speculated how the meeting of canine and neonate might go.  Would Mojo greet her excitedly because that's how he greets us when we come home?  Would he suspiciously sniff her and turn up his nose?  Would he make for the hills, where he could live in peace and harmony with his little squirrel companions?

Let's just say now that we're 6 weeks into this parenting thing, Mojo probably would benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and a hard cocktail.

While we spent the first several days with Mallory trying to figure out what each cry meant and how to handle real-life sleep deprivation, Mojo's behavior spiraled from sunny to sullen.  He sought refuge in the folds of the sleeping bag we lay out every winter for him, piling its puffy flannel layers over his body to shut out the disparity in the doling out of attention.  Every time we would look up from a feeding, there was Mojo's butt, hanging out of the sleeping bag, his pitiful sighs gently expanding the fort around him.

"At least my sleeping bag loves me..."

We carried out our pet parent duties as we should: fed him, took him out for potty breaks, gave him treats to reward good behavior.  We'd pat his head if we walked past him and tell him he was a good boy from across the room.  Yet, Mojo carried himself around the house in a depressed state that would make Eeyore turn to his Hundred Acre Wood buddies and ask, "What the hell is wrong with that guy?"

Well, Mallory was what was wrong.  (Yeah, I know that sentence reads weirdly).  But it was the truth.  Mojo, who had been the proud owner of all of our attention, was now feeling jipped.  He had been the "only child" for two years before Baby Nerd came along, and he did not enjoy sharing the spotlight.  Excuse me: giving up the spotlight would be more accurate.  Mojo did not understand that a baby's needs would take priority over his while we learned the ropes.  His little doggie mind did not comprehend that all of this was merely temporary, that once we hit our stride, we would have more time for him.  We were doing our best to meet his needs, but it wasn't even close to good enough by his standards.  He sure let us know how he was feeling...

For each time we'd hold a napping baby: "I'm going to sleep in my sun spot in the office."

For each time we promised, "Just one more minute, and I'll take you outside!": "That's what you said 5 minutes ago…"

For every meal we set down for him: "You snuggle the tiny human while you feed it…"

And every time Mallory made herself heard, Mojo would give us the stink eye and a piece of his mind.

If she cried: "Make it use its inside voice!"

If she was being held by one of us: "You used to hold me like that..."

If she soiled her diaper: "But I'm not allowed to poop in the house…"

It didn't stop there.  A pile of baby socks under our bed.  A shredded (but not soiled, thank God) diaper on our bedroom floor.  Toilet paper from the guest bathroom trash can shredded in a trail.  Mojo was acting out.  At this rate, it wouldn't have surprised me if we had woken up one morning to Mojo standing at the door with his sleeping bag rolled up and a hobo bindle over his shoulder.  We needed him to feel wanted and loved again.  We would have to use the baby to win him back.

So from where our butts were making imprints on the couch as we held our newborn, we started calling Mojo over.  We let him smell her and lick her ears.  Every time he acted calmly around her, we'd rub his ears or chin and tell him he was a really good dog.  His chest puffed out at the thought.  "I AM a really good dog!"

Then we started engaging him during Mallory's tummy time.  Actually, we didn't have to make much of an effort to get him interested.  You see, Mojo considers the floor and anything that touches it to be his possession.  We believe this is why he steals socks.  So once Mallory was laid on the floor with her blanket and a couple of toys, Mojo came running over to see what had entered into his world.  Michael and I carefully monitored their encounter.

Mallory wiggled on her blanket, arms and legs poking the air.  Mojo was instantly spellbound, and his excitement showed via the wagging of his stumpy tail.  He approached her little pink face, smelling every inch of her head.  When his tail wasn't accurately broadcasting how excited he was, his tongue would do so by thrusting out of his muzzle and covering her cheeks.  Mallory just squinted and continued to kick.  Mojo circled her, licking her arms and legs until we finally told him it was enough.  He then laid down next to her, deciding it was time to vocalize his feelings through high-pitched howls and yelps.  It was hysterically funny to watch.  Mallory couldn't play with Mojo or show him affection, but he was absolutely smitten with her.

We had our jolly mutt back.

Now when the baby cries, Mojo shows a look of concern or runs to her playpen.  He finally realized he's just tall enough to prop himself on the side of the playpen so he can sneak a peek at her.  When we have tummy time, he lays on Mallory's blanket (which we usually have to ask him to move over to make room for us).  The cutest effort he makes for Baby Nerd is when brings her one of his toys.  After all, she has her trinkets.  I guess he figures playthings are for sharing.  Mallory is going to give him a run for his money when she graduates from tummy time to toddling!  He will love her more because she'll finally be mobile.

And in the middle of the night, when the room is dark and I am up feeding and changing Mallory, Mojo strains his tired eyes to watch my every move.  He lets out a sigh from his bed as if to say, "I'm still here."  After putting the baby back down, I walk over to his corner of the room, kiss him on his forehead, and tell him he's a damn good dog.  He's going to make Mallory one happy little girl as they grow up together.

"The tiny human cried!  Let me see what is wrong."

"Is it tummy time again?  Want to play with my hippo?"


4 comments:

Sue said...

Your story and photos truly warmed my heart, Vikki. I believe that Mojo was always meant to be with your family. you have truly brightened my day with this news. I hope you all have a magical and blessed Christmas with your new, beautiful daughter.

Amanda Jones said...

Aw I loved reading this :). I'm glad you didn't give up on Mojo, you know a lot of people get rid of pets after having kids and it's so sad! A sweet and inspiring story you have here with Mojo & Mallory :)

A. Hab. said...

I laughed so much while reading this entry! At first...when you used the past tense to refer to how Mojo was the first bundle of joy, I was arming myself against what would surely be a sad sad post. But I am delighted that 1. Mojo is alive and well, and 2. he seems to be adjusting to Mallory really really well.

I was going to ask you what you did with him while you were delivering and how you did the introduction thing--this post helps. :) Robert and I have just started to have the "where will the dogs go?" conversation, and every great idea I think I have ends up with one of us saying, "Oh...yeah...that wouldn't work...." Our vet has recommended that we send the dogs to "daycare" for a week or so, since we don't have a fenced-in yard. That's extraordinarily expensive, though. But it also seems a bit much to ask a friend to take on two additional canines (both of whom are in the "large dog" category). So...we're still not sure. Maybe a week away is excessive? I don't know. If you could do it over again or if you had had the option, would you have still had Mojo greet you at the door when you arrived from the hospital or would you have retrieved him some days after y'all got home?

V-Dub said...

@Sue--Thanks so much! I know how much Mojo means to you. You were an excellent foster mom for him. I would bet he misses being around your horses and goats. Maybe we could have a reunion at some point in the future!

@Amanda--There was no way that Mojo was getting kicked out once the baby arrived. Well, unless he tried snacking on Mallory…

@A. Hab.--We were glad to have Mojo waiting for us when we got home. It felt as close to a "normal" coming home as we could get. Plus, we were so hesitant to leave those first several days with a newborn. It was a blessing to not have to fetch him from his sitter's!

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