I remember the day our girls received their little furry pet. Their third one. Our “bunny buffer” only lasted so long. Before we knew it, our girls were once again, asking for a puppy.
My husband and I felt it somewhat of an obligatory parental act to get a family dog. We had already potty-trained four humans, why- oh why, would we sign up for more?! But we conceded. Four girls can be so convincing. Four sets of puppy-dog eyes glaring at you?! We didn’t stand a chance.
Precisely halfway through the Year of the Dog, our family acquired a dog. He was, like all puppies, absolutely adorable. This new little guy was slightly round, clumsy, fluffy affectionate and with steel-blue eyes, just like most newborns. He was the exact size of our bunny/. When he popped out of the box his owner brought him in, my heart popped out of my chest. “He’s perfect!” one of our daughters exclaimed. My sentiments exactly.
On his first night in our home, our kitchen floor, (appropriately adorned with pee sheets) was in a well-prepared state to catch all his puppy stuff. He woke at 2:00, 4:00 and 5:30am and refused to go back to sleep…. perfect?!
When I woke again at 6:00am per his insistent crying, our kitchen looked like Armageddon. He had gone everywhere and I mean everywhere except the pee pads. Since then, he has eaten through underwear from the clean laundry pile and too many pairs of my husbands’ Sanuk’s to count. He has gobbled up a section of a sisal rug causing an emergency vet appointment, jumped from the car window and has escaped from our backyard and straight through our legs at the front door, far too many times. But that puppy face, well, it’s a real thing.
But, we have fallen head over heels for our little black and white pup affectionately named, Milo. We love the girl’s attention to his needs before they eat in the morning. They feed him, give him fresh water, play with him, take him out back to do his duties and walk him daily when he needs more than the backyard obstacle course they have made with broomsticks and buckets. They saved their money to contribute to his purchase and all his basic necessities. They meant business when they rallied for our little border collie, mini-Aussie, corgi mix.
Now we are one year into dog-ownership, and though we aren’t out of the water yet, Milo has presented himself to be the very best pup we could imagine for our family. He sleeps when we sleep. He is active when we are ready to play. He doesn’t dig holes through under our fence like those pokey little puppies we all read about for years. He respects my hoards of clean laundry sitting in our family room waiting to be folded and put away. He does tricks and makes our neighbors smile. He loves our kids and all the kids that greet him at the back gate of our daughters’ school. And when I come home, even if I was only gone under an hour, he greets me with butt circles in one direction and tail circles in the opposite direction. I mean really, that’s crazy skills and clearly, the most animated greeting anyone could ever receive from a small furry friend!
However, when sitting on Santa’s lap this past Christmas, our youngest daughter asked Santa with fervor, for a donkey. Yup. That’s what she wanted from Santa. A donkey. She will have to wait for The Year of the Ass. And when this year does come to pass: I will be on parent sabbatical.
Parents, if you are considering a new pet, here are some things I learned.
- Puppies aren’t sold in boxes in front of grocery stores anymore. What?! It’s true. We checked the pound and rescue centers but only came up with chihuahuas and pit bulls and our girls really wanted an Aussie. Craig’s list is the new grocery store puppy platform, that is if you are not committed to a pure-bred.
- If your children want a pet, support them in investing in it before it is acquired. It sets the expectation that your child will invest in the pet’s daily needs.
- We thought about all the reasons we shouldn’t get a dog for months. But, ultimately, purchasing a new puppy for us had to be like waking up and wanting to cut bangs. You can’t over-think it. I’m not saying pet ownership is for everyone, but I am saying if you are on the fence, dig under and go for it, the way those pokey little puppies did. The dessert is in the daily interactions of watching your children care, bond and play with your furry friend. And the icing on the rice pudding cup? You get to, too.