I read an article a few days ago about a mom who had several children and a dog. I’m not going to link to the article because I believe it was a bait article to get under people’s skin and cause controversy, of which it did and it certainly got the attention of the pet community.
The basis of the article was that this person had gotten a dog as a gift from her boyfriend and she loved the dog unconditionally………………….until she had children. After that she didn’t really care very much about about the dog and found it more of a nuisance rather than a member of the family. I’m actually being very generous in describing the article. The author set a bad tone the way she spoke about the dog and said a lot of things that I didn’t care to read….but I do believe there may have been a little bit of a hidden topic there and to be honest I kind of related to the article and was offended by some of the comments that were left even though I knew they weren’t directed towards me.
So here’s the question:
Do you have to choose between having a dog and having kids?
The short answer from me is no, however I honestly don’t think there is a short answer for this question because there are so many different variables that come into play.
Such as, what kind of dog you have, how many dogs you have, how many kids you have, did the dog come first or did the kids come first, what is the story behind the dog and the kids? What’s your story?
For instance, I have Newfoundlands. A breed that requires a lot of upkeep and attention. A healthy Newfoundland is significantly different than a healthy Beagle in regards to maintenance and cost.
Which is why when I became a mom for the first time I got rid of my first Newfoundland.
This is my story of what happened.
My first Newfoundland and first dog that I could call all my own was named Thunder and I received Thunder as a gift from my sister. Thunder was more than just a gift, he was a soul given to me to help me heal from a bad occurrence that happened several months prior. I was about 22 years old when I got Thunder and I was living with one of my girlfriends in a duplex. We lived downstairs and some “boy” friends lived upstairs.
It was a great party house, but soon after I got Thunder I realized that he had some severe health issues which mostly had to do with his heart and where I was living wasn’t a great environment to raise a puppy in, let alone a puppy who had a sick heart so Thunder and I moved back home with my mom and dad.
Thunder required a lot of medical attention and care and I was told by vets that he wouldn’t live to be past 1 year old because of his heart condition. I lived everyday with Thunder cautiously.
I met my husband when Thunder was about 2 years old.
The following year we got engaged and bought our first house and Thunder came with us.
The year after that we got married and Thunder was there.
Ten months after we got married we had our first child and Thunder was there.
It wasn’t suppose to go down that way.
We wanted to have kids, just not that fast.
We wanted to be newlyweds and enjoy our dogs and blah, blah, blah.
I messed it all up.
You see it had taken my mom 10 years to get pregnant with my sister and 7 seven years to get pregnant with me so I thought this making babies thing was going to take a few years.
It did not.
I’m more fertile than mother.
Thunder was going on just about 5 years old at the time that Bobby was born and we did our best to prepare him for the “new” baby several months before Bobby arrived, but Bobby arrived 2 months early so our preparation time was cut a little short.
I was concerned about Thunder and the baby. Thunder was a lot like Leroy.
Goofy. Uncoordinated. And BIG. A 175 pounds big and…………………….he had limited exposure around kids, not to mention his health issues.
I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to care for Thunder the way he needed to be cared for and that I would wind up neglecting him and he didn’t deserve to be neglected. His heart couldn’t handle being neglected.
I gave it a shot anyway, for one day.
When I brought teeny tiny 6 pound Bobby home from the hospital, I was extremely nervous and an emotional wreck.
We introduced Thunder to Bobby slowly and my husband held Bobby while Thunder sniffed him all over. And drooled, on Bobby’s head, which was a little scary for me….because I was a new Mom and I was worried about germs. (I know…….zip it….I said I was an emotional wreck.)
About an hour later I laid Bobby down in the bassinet and Thunder walked right up and stuck his head in the bassinet and it scared the crap out of me because I thought he was going to eat him. I mean seriously, Bobby’s whole body was the size of Thunder’s head and Thunder could swallow him whole and Thunder was not the gentlest of giants.
Now….. I know that Thunder wasn’t really going to eat Bobby and he wasn’t showing any kind of aggression, he was just being curious, but it was all extremely overwhelming for me.
The big dog. The baby. Me……a mom. I was clueless.
So at that point in time I made the decision to send Thunder back home to live with my parents while I adjusted to being a new mom. He spent the first few years of his life at my parents house so it wasn’t like I was sending him to a strange home with strange people and that made it a little easier but I still cried for weeks about it and I missed Thunder tremendously.
For the next few months we of course visited Thunder and my parents several times and I just got the feeling that Thunder wasn’t all that comfortable around Bobby, and my family agreed, so I decided that it would be best for Thunder to stay with my parents and together we worked as a team to manage his health issues.
I never forgave myself for making that decision and sometimes I think I should of given Thunder more credit and gave him more time to adjust to the new baby. I felt like I gave up on him too fast but I also have to wonder that if I would of neglected him in some sort of way if he stayed, that maybe his heart wouldn’t of lasted as long as it did.
When I got Thunder I didn’t know what the future held for me. I didn’t know that children would be in his lifetime.
Fast forward to now, where I have 2 kids and 2 dogs and life is good.
The difference now is not that I know what the future holds but that I’m more confident in being a mom. I got 2 kids past the age of 3 without any major incidences, which means, even though I overdosed Gracie on cough medicine when she was one, and Bobby ate a jar of Vicks when he was 18 months old , they are both still alive.
Now let’s get a dog!
A big,brown, furry, drooly Newfie!
And that’s what we did, we got Sherman when Bobby was 5 and Gracie was 3. They could both walk, talk and eat on their own and while I was still a mom with 2 kids and life was crazy busy, I was now a confident mom who knew she had the time to care for both her kids and a dog.
For me it was a totally different story to bring a dog into our lives when we already had kids rather than bring kids into our lives when we already had a dog. A Newfoundland dog that is.
Does that make sense?
I get that there are tons of people who have a dog and then have a baby and things are peachy. I get that thousands of people had multiple dogs and multiple kids and all was good with no issues, and I get that millions of people grew up with dogs and were taught respect and the love of animals from them but I also get that there are tons of people who have a dog and then have a baby and become overwhelmed and scared and these people shouldn’t feel like they can’t talk about these issues for fear of being ridiculed and go on being scared, neglectful or lost. Nobody wins in a situation like this.
I joke around a lot on my house that the kids get to go and the dogs get to stay but we need to face the fact, that while I love my dogs like no other, if life threw me a crazy curve-ball and I had to choose between my kids and my dogs, I would choose my kids and from pet lover to pet lover I don’t think I should be criticized for that.
I’m going to give my husband a little time for that to sink in it, since I’ve never actually said that out loud before.
Now we’re going to move on because I don’t want to think that it would ever come down to that, but just in case it ever did I wanted you to know the truth.
Jen, Mom, Dog Lover, Lover of Dogs,
For those who are are interested, Thunder passed away at 8 1/2 years old. He had severe degenerative myleopathy and was unable to use his back legs. I was right by his side the whole time and I’m still amazed that he lived 7 years past what the vets said he would.
As for Plunger, Plunger was here before the kids but after Thunder and did fine when the kids were both born, however, he was a 25 pound Beagle that didn’t let much phase him.
Want to read some other wonderful bloggers opinions on the subject? You can visit my good friends from I Still Want More Puppies and Heart Like A Dog and read their take on it. Both very good articles.
I would love to continue the discussion here and read your thoughts and please share your story if you have one but lets be respectful to one another. If you are not I will delete your comment and just to be clear, you don’t have to agree but you should respectively disagree in a tactful and mature way.