Pregnancy

How Dogs Have Prepared Us For Parenthood

The Dogs
The Dogs

Owning a dog is like having a child. They teethe, they rough-house, they have accidents and so forth. So I thought it would be funny to make a list of the things our dogs have taught us thus far that will hopefully come in handy in the near future with baby.

Tank & Dora as puppies
Tank & Dora as puppies

Our two schmedium-sized dogs, Tank and Dora, are truly our first children. They are litter mates and they are mini-pinscher/chihuahua mixes. We received them from friends of ours whose dogs got busy while they were away on vacation. Since they already had three dogs (and now a litter of four) they asked if we would be interested in getting a dog. I had cats growing up and Jed lived in the country with outdoor dogs, so a small, indoor dog was new territory for us. We had an apartment and thought “why not take the next step?” and get a dog (which we technically weren’t supposed to have in the apartment). So we went over and they were all too cute. We decided we would get Dora, a little girl with a big personality. So we told our friends we would take her when she was ready. A couple of weeks later when we were talking with our friends, they mentioned that Tank still didn’t have a home. So of course that pulled at our heartstrings and we said “why not take both”. They will keep each other company while we’re at work and play together. So we came home with both of them. Double trouble. Double fun.

Talk about a learning curve for Jed and I. We didn’t really know where to start or what to do, so we just took it one day at a time. And there have definitely been some lessons learned along the way. But we love them so much and we can hardly believe that they are going to be six years old next Tuesday (April 30th)!

So when we found out we were expecting, we thought “This will be a cinch. We have two dogs, we can raise a baby.” So we decided to put together the following list of how our dogs have prepared us for parenthood:

1. Poop is Already a Topic of Conversation
We keep hearing from friends and family that we’re going to be talking a LOT about bowel movements when baby arrives to make sure everything’s alright. Well, that’s just fine since it’s something that we already talk about with our dogs. I’m not saying we track our dogs movements by any means, but we do have to keep track of when they were last out, did they go when they were out, did they BOTH go when they were out? So it’s not something we shy away from.

2. Have You Heard Dogs Whine and Cry?
Tank is our more vocal pup. He will let you know everything that’s going on. If he’s hungry, if he wants to go outside and on and on and on. He will sit right in front of you and just cry and whine. You can feed him, let him out, pet him, play with him and he’ll still sit and whine. Dora on the other hand only whines if there’s food involved. Anytime we’re in the kitchen making dinner, she sits oh-so-nicely and has this very low cry you can hear that could literally drive you nuts. So while I know it’s not necessarily on the same caliber that it will be with the baby, we know the cry/whine routine and have had the lovely experience of learning how to figure out what it means (most of the time).

3. Patience
I figured this would be best to list after #2 since it relates to it. In addition to being patient trying to figure out what they want when they cry, we’ve also just had to learn to be more patient overall. They are dogs with (very)  limited vocabulary, so they don’t understand what’s going on and why. So we’ve learned the art of patience. Before we put up our fence in the backyard, we walked them three times a day – rain, snow, sun or wind. That took a lot patience, especially when they just wanted to be outside, but you wanted to be inside where it’s warm.

Dora as a pup (when her ears stuck up)
Dora as a pup (when her ears stuck up)

4. We Can’t Have Nice Things
We’ve all heard the saying “You’re the reason we can’t have nice things”. Well, with dogs, that is true and I’m glad I learned it before having kids. This item on the list mostly pertains to Dora. Like Benjamin Button, our dogs apparently do things backwards. Dora never chewed when she was a pup, but now loves chewing on things like as pillows, blankets, stuffed animals (really anything with thread that she can open up). When we bought our house, we needed an area rug for the living room. We picked one out at Pottery Barn and brought it home. (Note: This was also during the time that we were working with keeping them out of their kennel while we were out and about and we had already left them home alone for hours at a time). So we got our new rug, put it down and ran out for a quick errand (literally only half an hour). When we got back, we saw a nice little pile of fuzz and Dora running to her kennel. Yep, she tore a hole all the way through to the bottom of the rug about 5″ in diameter. Awesome. At least is was near the edge, so we could move it and cover it up with furniture. She has also chewed off the corners of our couch pillows and made holes in our blanket on the couch. This has taught us that things are going to happen to our belongings that we can’t prepare for. Our kid will definitely learn to pick up after themselves if they ever want any stuffed animals to survive with Dora around.

5. They’re Expensive
Not as expensive as kids, but still expensive. Between food, vet visits, medication, toys, kennels and other items such as the cost of fencing in the backyard, it all adds up. I will say that I am glad that our dogs are both small (18-20 lbs. each) and have short hair, so we don’t have to take them in to get groomed or shaved. We did have a third dog for a while that needed to be taken to the groomers because he had longer hair, and that adds up quickly. And like kids stuff, there seems to be endless things you can get your dog (that they don’t really need) and sometimes those items are hard to resist because they’re so darn cute. But again, it’s something we’ve learned over the years that will help prepare us for baby.

6. Have to Find Dog Sitters
While they do not need 24-hour care like a child, we still need to find dog sitters when we travel. With cats, you can just leave food and water out for a couple of days and they’re usually fine, but dogs need to be let out and fed (and ours need a lot of attention). Not a huge deal, but something we’ll need to be prepared for with baby so we can get out for a date night once in a while.

Tank as a pup
Tank as a pup

7. Picking Up After Them
Our dogs probably have more toys and accessories than they need, but they do play with most of them. There is something about kids and dogs that when you put everything away, they need to take it all back out again – even if they’re not playing with them. Every time we clean our living room and put the toys in their bin, they go right to it and start taking everything back out. They also leave their toys strewn across the house in every room, so you have to be careful where you’re walking or you might step on a Nylabone, which does not feel good. They are also good about hiding toys in blankets and under pillows on the couch, so you never know what you might sit on.

8. Embarrassing Public Displays
We’ve all been out in public and can’t help but watch or overhear those embarrassing moments of others, especially those that have kids. Well, it’s no different (in my mind) with dogs. It’s embarrassing enough to have to pick up poop, but try doing it with two dogs on separate leashes while they entangle you and try to get you to fall over. Or when they both are trying to go different directions and you’re spread eagle on the sidewalk. Or when you’re chasing them down the block after they somehow got out of the backyard. That’s usually when the cars drive by or neighbor are around to witness. I guess you have to learn to laugh it off.

9. Dogs = Mess
You wouldn’t think two small dogs would be messy, but they are. We know this is only going to get worse with a child added into the mix, but it’s amazing how dirty our house can get with dogs. Especially during this time of year when it rains a lot and we have a muddy backyard. While they don’t shed a lot, anyone with a pet knows how quickly fur can accumulate and get on everything! And it’s not restricted to the house. They love car rides and going on trips with us, so we finally invested in a backseat cover in Jed’s truck to help reduce the mess (or at least keep it contained). Not to mention when they get sick and decide the middle of the rug is a great place to up-chuck their last meal. All part of the deal, right!

Tank & Dora
Tank & Dora

10. Unconditional Love
I never thought I would have so much love for two little animals. Or how much they would love us (I think). They are part of our family and I would do anything for them. I always feel bad if we have to leave them at home when we travel or if we’re busy and haven’t seen them much in a day. If you ever want to know what unconditional love feels like, get a dog. They truly are (wo)man’s best friend. With that being said, it will be interesting to see what kind of impression a little baby is going to make on all of us. But we can’t wait.

So what about you? Did your pets help prepare you for parenthood? Any advice on introducing baby to the dogs? It will surely be an adventure for all of us once baby arrives, so we’ll see how they do. We may raise the baby Jungle Book style and have the dogs raise the baby 🙂 Just kidding, they can hardly take care of themselves. But like with the dogs, we’ll just have to learn to take it one day at a time.

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