My two dogs are about as different as can be, but I love them both equally. The same cannot be said for how my dogs feel about me and my husband. Our pups, GhostBuster and Marshmallow, make no bones about it: They each have a favorite human.
When my husband leaves the house, our Lab/Golden mix, GhostBuster, runs to the window to see if he can catch a glimpse of the car as it pulls out of the driveway. He lets a pitiful whimper escape his furry throat and then runs to the back door to check if my husband has really, truly left. At this point, I usually clear my throat and say something like, “Seriously dude! I’m still here!”
Even after I remind him that he hasn’t in fact been abandoned, GhostBuster isn’t done mourning the (temporary) loss of my husband. He’ll sigh and collapse by the window until I distract him with duck treats. I’m sad to say my boy has a favorite human, and it’s not me (even though I’m the one who wrote his theme song, buys the aforementioned treats, bathes him, gives him his medicine, and takes him to dog school — not that I’m bitter or anything).
I think GhostBuster’s preference for my husband can be traced back to the very first moment we met at the adoption center. It was my husband — not me — who first suggested we take him to the visitation room, and I believe GhostBuster remembers that. Personally, I’d been imagining a slightly smaller dog, more medium-sized, but I couldn’t argue with my spouse’s logic. GhostBuster certainly was a big boy (bigger than any Labs I’d ever known), but as my husband pointed out, he had the perfect demeanor — and as soon as I looked into his root beer eyes I fell in love with the gangly goof.
I was the one who returned to the adoption center the next day to spring GhostBuster (as my husband had to work that morning), but by nightfall, GhostBuster was already declaring himself a daddy’s boy. I guess I can’t really blame GhostBuster for falling in love with my husband hard and fast. While I was trying to be strict with our new rescue buddy, my husband spent the evening feeding GhostBuster campfire hot dogs (ah, to be so naive about dog allergies) and later decided he should sleep in our bedroom instead of the kennel I’d made up downstairs.
I didn’t know it then, but as I watched GhostBuster watch my husband make up a doggy bed for him, I was witnessing our new pup falling in love with my husband. I’m not going to pretend that it doesn’t irk me a tiny bit when GhostBuster gravitates toward his dad while I’m the one who organizes his veterinary care, does most of his training, and bathes his itchy butt once a week. I will say it’s a good thing we adopted Marshmallow not long after GhostBuster — at least I have one dog who I know without a doubt loves me most.
Marshmallow is a mommy’s girl to the millionth degree, and that’s not my husband’s fault at all — she kinda came that way. A rescue dog from Canada’s Northwest Territories, this little Jack Russell mix had been through a lot before she moved in with us almost a year ago. I met her at the second foster home she’d lived in since arriving in our city, and my husband wasn’t with me during that first visit — he wouldn’t meet Marshy until a few days later. It was clear that Marshy was very wary of men, and that didn’t change immediately after we brought her home. It took some time for her to warm up to my husband, and although he still feeds her breakfast in bed every morning, he’ll never be her favorite person — that privilege is reserved for me.
My Marshy is my snuggly little shadow. If I go to the kitchen, she’s coming too. If I take a shower, she’s gonna sit on the bathmat and wait for me. Everything I do for GhostBuster, I also do for Marshmallow: I’m clicker training her in the hopes of taking her to the same dog school as GhostBuster (now that she’s finally not as skittish), I arrange for her veterinary care (I even had her sedated once on my kitchen table instead of at the vet’s office as it’s so scary for her), and I wrote her a theme song (it’s called “Marshmallow Parade,” and it’s sung to the tune of Prince’s “Raspberry Beret”).
When we first brought her home, I had hoped that Marshmallow would grow to love my husband and myself equally, but some selfish part of me is a tiny bit happy that she still loves me more — I gotta have at least one dog on my side! My husband sometimes sees Marshmallow’s devotion to me as a rejection of him, but I don’t think that’s it at all. I think that in addition to her ingrained preference for female people, Marshmallow is a mommy’s girl for the same reason GhostBuster is a daddy’s boy — she just remembers who picked her out.
It seems like the dogs are choosing to divide the household as “boys versus girls,” but I love them both so much I can’t take sides! It’s like my own mother used to tell me and my siblings: “I love you all the same amount, just differently.”
Whenever I get down about how GhostBuster reacts to his dad leaving, I try to remember how he acts when I get home. I don’t see him run to the window or whimper when I go away, but when I come back he’s right there at the door, wagging his tail just as hard as Marshmallow is wagging hers. Maybe GhostBuster is like my mom — he doesn’t love me any less, he just loves me differently.
Marshy, though, she definitely loves my husband less!
Do your dogs have a favorite human? Tell us in the comments!
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About the Author: Heather Marcoux is a freelance writer in Alberta, Canada. Her beloved Ghost Cat was once her only animal, but the addition of a second cat, Specter, and the dog duo of GhostBuster and Marshmallow make her fur family complete. Sixteen paws is definitely enough. Heather is also a wife, a bad cook, and a former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts pet GIFs on Google+.