My Baby Brooklyn
Reader's Digest Canada|November 2021
Now that I’m a parent, I’ve discovered how much my dog taught me about maternal love
Claire Sibonney

The first time my mom came over to babysit Alice, our newborn daughter, for a couple of hours, I guess I could have showered or napped, but all I wanted to do was take my elderly dog, Brooklyn, out for a walk. It was early March almost eight years ago, and as I stepped outside of my Toronto townhouse with her, I inhaled one of my first breaths of fresh air in the two weeks since my baby had been born. As Brooklyn did her little laps around me like a miniature, wiry, white-and-brown tumbleweed, twisting me in her leash, it took me back to life before I was consumed by the exhaustion and relentless responsibilities of new parenthood. I felt free.

I knew this sense of independence was only fleeting. Any opportunities I could spend with Brooklyn—or with myself—since Alice was born, were few and far between. We both had to accept taking a backseat to new demands.

My spry and sensitive Jack Russell terrier, who trembled at the sound of thunder, was no longer allowed on the same bed where I was co-sleeping with Alice. And her wobbly knees made it difficult for her to climb to the third-floor bedroom where I spent most of my time now.

While I healed from a painful childbirth that hadn’t gone as planned, my husband took Brooklyn out three or four times a day, wrestled with her on the floor, and hid treats in random places so she could hunt for them. It was like he was still enjoying those carefree moments of pre-baby life.

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