Biet wakes up in the morning and kisses us. Then she fervently searches for Nico (who is usually sleeping at our feet under the covers), squeals with excitement when she finds her, and covers her with kisses and good-hearted slaps on the back. She slyly slips the food she doesn't care for (most often the cooked carrots and pieces of lettuce) into her chubby little hand, slides it down the side of her highchair, and delivers it straight into Nico's mouth. She then happily has her messy hands polished clean, courtesy of one slobbery dog tongue. It drives Gaby and I crazy. It makes Nico's day. Crying meltdown in the middle of the floor? Nico runs to the rescue to lick baby girl's face and the problem disappears into chuckles and smiles. Each day, Biet holds tight onto Nico's back for balance and stumbles across the living room, using her as a real live walker (meanwhile, she has shown zero interest in the two wooden baby walkers we have for her). And now, when we go on family walks, Biet's tiny hand shoots up, grabs hold of the leash, and doesn't let go until we get home. She is kind of obsessed with walking the dog.. with walking her dog.
It hit me the other day: Biet already considers Nico her dog. To her, there will never be a time when she was without her Nico. She will hear about the days, before babies, when Mama and Papa brought home a six-week-old puppy and raised it from a wee little thing into the amazing Nico. She will know that Nico used to be our baby, our pet, but she will never really know that time. Instead she will tell her friends at the playground and at daycare and at school to come over and play with her dog. I imagine that Nico will move into Biet's bed when its time to transition from the crib, sleeping at her feet underneath her covers. I could have never imagined, when it was just Gaby and I, living in a tiny apartment on the Lower East Side, trying our best to house train our wild puppy, that in a few short years she would be the companion and the protector of our daughter. They are just so good together, this girl and her dog.