Why Getting A Puppy When You Have A Busy Family Isn’t A Bad Idea
By Natalie Romero
PHOTO © NoSystem images/Getty Images
Jun 24, 2019
Before we became parents, my husband and I used to spend weekends visiting animal shelters. We would meet each dog in the shelter, falling just a little bit in love, brainstorming dog names, but never walked out with a pet.
We always wanted a dog.
As I type this, he’s pushing his head under my hand.
It was me who put a stop to it each and every time. I worried out loud about the amount of work involved in having a dog. I wondered if maybe it would be better to wait until after we had kids so that we didn’t have to introduce a dog to a new baby.
After our kids were born, it was still me who wasn’t ready. Every time we considered it, I had to be the voice of reason, making note of how chaotic our life was. Balancing two active children with being working parents was proving to be much more difficult than we had imagined. I was convinced we wouldn’t be able to handle having a dog on top of it all.
Then came Duke.
He was very unexpected.
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But as soon as I looked into his little puppy eyes, I knew that our family was about to grow. He may not have been planned, but he was very meant to be.
Turns out, I was right. Having a dog is a lot of work. And in those first few weeks, there were moments when I wondered if we had made the right decision.
In the beginning, he pushed my buttons. He chewed things I didn’t know could be chewed: chairs, ottomans, our dining room table. My heart still sinks every time I walk up the stairs to find big chunks of fluff spread all over our room, and races as I try to determine what it is he’s destroyed now and if it’s going to require an expensive trip to the vet.
But as soon as I looked into his little puppy eyes, I knew that our family was about to grow.
The pee, oh they don’t tell you about the pee. He peed on the floor time and time again. Each time my bare feet stepped in another puddle I would curse under my breath.
I discovered new areas of our neighbourhood during long evening walks spent pleading with him to poop only to have him squat in the bathroom the moment we got home. I quickly tired of cleaning poop up off the ground, although his little wagging tail made it a bit more bearable.
Truth is, it’s not just about feeding and walking a dog. You have to teach them everything. Not to chew, how to go to the bathroom and where, how to be around other dogs, how to sleep on their own and the list goes on and on.
In those early days, I found myself wondering if we were in over our heads.
Then one day, my daughter hurt her ankle in gymnastics. She got herself situated on the couch, ankle wrapped and elevated, when up came Duke. He jumped up on the couch, squirmed in nice and tight beside her and stayed with her until she was able to get off the couch herself.
This is why we decided to get our dog. It was all about the love.
My son cried when we brought him home. My son, who is so rough and tumble, picked up our tiny puppy and spoke to him in such a tender voice and there were actual tears.
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When my kids are sick, he stays right by their sides. If we are arguing, he comes around to make sure we are OK. He senses when something is wrong with any of us and reminds us that we are loved. His mere presence is enough to calm, soothe and lift our mood.
When I hear them playing together, it warms my heart; that mixture of giggles and barks, it’s a beautiful sound.
The pee, oh they don’t tell you about the pee.
There are obvious lessons that my kids learn from having a dog. They are tasked with the feeding and the walking. They are learning how to care for something. Our dog helped them become more responsible, because they couldn’t forget to feed him even one time. They have learned that the whole world does not revolve around them. We can’t stay at the amusement park all day long because we have to get home to let the dog out. They put something before themselves.
The love that this little creature has brought into our home reminds me daily that it is so worth any amount of chores and effort.
The sound of his paws padding down the stairs in the morning, looking for his breakfast, has become a normal sound in our home. The excitement he’s filled with every time he greets us at the door, toy in mouth, when we get home at the end of the day. Even the way he will snuggle himself up under my arm on a Saturday morning to gently wake me up. He is a part of us, and our family wouldn’t be the same without him.
As I type this, he’s pushing his head under my hand. He wants some attention. Regardless of all the work and frustrations he has brought us, getting a dog has been the best thing we have ever done.
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