Please note that everything I am about to write is anecdotal. I am not an expert on parenting, pets, psychology, or anything else that would lead you to believe my opinion here carries any merit. But what worked for me might work for you and if you’re on the fence about getting a pet or three, maybe this is the push you’re looking for, but every story is different.
Before we had kids, my wife had a little 20 pound pug mix named Lacey. The ugliest thing you’ve ever seen and a royal pain in the ass.
But we loved her.
She was 14 when my wife got pregnant with our two kids. (The dog was. This isn’t one of those stories.) Needless to say, there were never any conversations about needing to rehome a small deaf and blind dog at this stage of her life because of the kids. Why not? Because we are firm believers that your pets are every bit a part of the family as any of us. Within a few months of their birth, Lacey had taken a turn for the worse and it was time for her to visit Doggy Heaven where hopefully she’d get a bit of a makeover and meet a nice boy dog.
As far as I was concerned, this was it. No more pets. We have enough responsibility now. (Read: we lose enough sleep now.) My wife was in full agreement….for a couple of weeks. Scouring rescue websites became an obsession. Finding the perfect dog became her mission. She showed me a couple she loved and I cringed.
Having always grown up with small dogs and having a lack of understanding of bigger dogs and bully breeds, I was relatively distraught over her interest in pit bulls. Not in my house. Not with these infants. Are you crazy?!? While I successfully staved off the first couple she picked out, she was able to convince me to check out a beautiful ridgeback hound named Bambi. Still, a 70 pound dog in this house with two little infants??
This isn’t happening, but I’ll humor her.
We brought the girls in their infant car seats into the foster home and kept them “safe” on a couch. Bambi came running in and at the time, a 70 pound dog was basically a horse to me. But she was calm and sweet, and my heart pretty much melted when she rested her head on each of their laps in the car seats. Should this have terrified me? Maybe. But it didn’t.
I was sold.
Fast forward 2.5 years and the family has grown in paws only. Bamber (formerly Bambi) has been the sweet and protective big sister of these girls from Day One. She has her barking fits, her energetic runs through the house, etc. She’s knocked the girls down a couple of times. But never once has she shown any aggression towards her baby sisters. Also, here’s a spoiler…a DNA test revealed she’s not a ridgeback hound, but a mix of tons of bully breeds (Doberman, German Shepherd, pit bull, and a couple others), which for me solidified the bully breed myth.
We did feel that Bamber exhibited a bit of loneliness, especially when we gathered in the play room that she was too big for and shed too much in. Enter another rescue dog, but this time a puppy! My brilliant idea to get a puppy. Rocket (formerly known as Bubbles) was a Border Collie mix who was playful and energetic and hopefully the Yin to Bamber’s Yang. Another spoiler alert…Maury Povich’s DNA results came back as mostly pit bull, which did not surprise us. Rocket, more playful than Bamber, kept everyone on their toes, chewing baby toys and getting into trouble. But again, just another sweet dog that our girls fell in love with when they weren’t crying about their stolen toys.
We even currently have a short-term 100 pound Golden Retriever named Boomer who the girls for some reason love too, despite the fact that he’s eaten everything imaginable. He eats their food all the time, and he drives me crazy when he keeps eating my sandwiches and even my skirt steak once.
The girls poke and prod and pull tails once in a while, but we’ve taught them to be very gentle and respectful of dogs (as gentle and respectful as a 2.5 year old can be). I think having the dogs has given them some lessons and feelings that we as parents can’t do on our own. They have learned much better how to interact with not only their own pets, but also others’. They have developed an unconditional bond with these pets at such a young age. The dogs have provided the girls with endless laughter and fun long after Mom and Dad were tired out and down for the count.
So that’s 3 dogs, 2 kids, and 1 crazy house. It can definitely be chaotic. There’s work involved. A lot of work. Sometimes the pets are more work than the kids even. I have relatives who are scared to come over (and I completely understand). We haven’t quite gotten the dogs used to company and so there’s always a 15 minute period of energy/fear/barking/jumping that is tough to wrangle.
But honestly, I can’t imagine my family any other way at this point.
They’re all my family and I love them all. It’s not an easy decision and it’s not for everyone. But the girls and the dogs have learned to all get along in their own way, the same way kids might socialize in a park or daycare. For us, it’s been a joy to watch all of their relationship flourish. I just wanted to show you my story as I think it may be relatable. At least one dog could be relatable. It gets exponentially more nuts the more pets you get (you know, kinda like having more kids)!
Do you have pets in your family? Tell us in the comments! If you DON’T, we want to know who cleans up under the dining room table?