Ever since Nathan and I started telling people that we’re expecting our second child, we’ve been asked two questions. The first one I completely understand: “When are you due?”
But the second one floors me every single time I hear it: “So does that mean you’re getting rid of your dog?”
I’ve always had pets. My parents got a dog shortly after they were married and added a cat to the mix when my sisters were young. After I was born, we added to the zoo: More cats and dogs, fish, hamsters, rabbits, budgies, turtles, guinea pigs, and of course I had my horses! I was taught from a young age that pets are part of the family too – so I can’t even fathom the idea of “getting rid” of a dog just because you’re adding a new human member to your family. I don’t understand people who consider dogs “part of the family – until.” Until they have kids. Until they move. Until they get bored and decide they’d rather do something else with their time.
We got Chloe nine months after we got married. We knew we wanted to have Baby #1 a year after that so we started teaching Chloe to be a kid-friendly dog from the very beginning. It helped that her breeder had young children who were an active part of the socialization process when she was a baby, but we’ve always handled her all over – ears, tail, paws. She’s never been allowed to nip or bite and she’s never been remotely possessive of any of her toys. Of course we were concerned how she would adjust to having Topher in the family when we brought him home from the hospital but we needn’t have worried: He was “hers” from the first second she sniffed his little face. Everyone who came to visit in the days after he was born had to deal with a constantly whining little white shadow at their feet – “Be careful! That’s MY baby!” (It got to the point where we actually had to put her outside when friends came over because we were worried they’d trip over her!) If he was crying in his crib Chloe would pace back and forth between his room and wherever Nathan or I were, whining, until we got up to get him. (It made the limited amount of sleep training we did that much more difficult!)
Chloe and Topher are the best of friends. They play tag and hide and seek, they sit in her bed and read, they dress up in costumes. Topher plays fetch with Chloe and he can get her to sit and shake a paw on command. The first thing he does whenever he gets home is tell Chloe where he went and what he did while he was gone – he usually races in the door so fast that we can’t even get his wet boots off. Topher’s decided that he’s going to start a band when Santa brings him drums for Christmas – Nathan’s going to play his guitar, Topher’s going to play his drums, I’m going to play the piano (Santa better bring me one of those, too!) - and Chloe is going to play shakers.
She may not be the best behaved or most obedient dog in the world, but as far as Topher is concerned – and as far as Nathan and I are concerned - she’s part of the family. Until forever.
*Alyssa from The Curious Pug posted this on her blog a few weeks ago: Dogs are Family for Life – Then and Now Photos of LifeLong Friendships. I don’t think my misty eyes were entirely due to pregnancy hormones …