When you opt to get a dog before starting your family, there are things to consider. A dog is like having a baby and you need to give them love and attention.
I remember how much my husband tried to convince me to get a dog. He wanted a labradoodle — a labrador and poodle mix.
I’ve had small dogs all my life, and having a labradoodle was the last thing on my mind. We planned to have a dog after our son turned one.
But once Jeff saw a photo of Rocky, a year was out of the question.
Rocky’s baby blues and auburn and white coat made Jeff’s heart melt. He, too, grew up with dogs.
The difference? They were all big dogs.
I was used to chihuahuas and wanted a small toy dog for our firstborn. However, something from my childhood reminded me that a toy dog would simply be a toy for our son.
I was about 7 years old when I got my first dog. She was great, my brother Aldo and I would flip her on the bed and laugh when she’d make faces.
The poor thing was terrified. She lived almost 15 years and hated my brother and me for what we did.
Can you blame her?
Bringing Rocky Home
A week before Cinco de Mayo, I shared a photo with my husband about a family pet that needed a new home.
I asked if he knew anyone who would be interested in taking him on.
Rocky needed a good home and plenty of love, so Jeff said why don’t we give it a try. I knew Rocky for four years before we took him on.
He was a good dog and it was worth giving it a try, so we did.
The night we brought him home, we left for a friend’s party. When we arrived home, there was poop all over the carpet.
On Cinco de Mayo, we celebrated Rocky’s first full day at the house. We had a few friends over and introduced him to the family. They loved him and he loved all the attention — and still does to this day.
Thinking back, his first time alone at the house probably felt like a nightmare for him. We got him Saturday night, partied with him on Sunday and when Monday came we all went our separate ways.
Jeff was off to work and I did the same. We left him home alone.
Jeff stopped by the house during his lunch break that afternoon to find a mess: scratches on the couches, broken window shades and he peed in the kitchen.
The second time, we tried isolating him in the dining room by putting two chairs and a couch in between the dining room and the TV/living room and a chair in between the kitchen and the dining room.
Jeff came home that day, parked on the street just to sneak up on Rocky. He looked through the glass door and found Rocky laying face up on the rug, tongue out as to say “Man, that was tough.”
Jeff laughed, went into the house and saw the damage.
The wall separating the TV/living room was scratched and a hat Jeff had left on the kitchen island was on the floor. It was almost a way to say, “You thought you had me, didn’t you?”
After that, we did what we didn’t want to do — we put Rocky back into the cage he came in. It was big enough for him to stretch out from time to time and we left him water and a cookie while we were at work.
He would cry when we’d leave. It broke our hearts, but what could we do? During Jeff’s early days, I’d rush to leave first so I wouldn’t have to be the one to put him in there.
Eventually, I would have to be the “bad” one on Saturdays when I’d go food shopping.
That’s when I’d cry with him and tell him I’d be quick.
My concern was if something were to happen he’d be stuck in a cage. It didn’t get easier with time.
One afternoon my parents heard my “what if something happens speech” and suggested I leave him out. We left him on the first floor.
Shades were halfway up so he’d be able to look outside. He went to the window when we left.
My parents and I went around the block and saw he was still in the window. I waved and left.
When we returned, all he did was pee on the island — the usual. We tried leaving him alone two more times during the week and he stopped peeing in the house.
I guess he didn’t like seeing us on our knees scrubbing his “territory.”
During the week, Rocky hangs out with other dogs at the dog park. He loves it. I used to join Jeff when I was pregnant with our first. It was like seeing our son play with his friends.
At first, the other huskies wouldn’t accept him because he was several pounds lighter and his coat had been shaved due to too many knots. They’d try to fight him, but with time — and approximately 30 pounds later — the huskies at the park began to accept him. However, by then, he picked up his own “crew” of non-huskies.
When our son was born, Jeff brought home baby items he had worn: his blanket, hat, and shirt. This helped prepare Rocky for what was to come.
He had always been more gentle with me while I was pregnant, but this time, we needed to make sure he wouldn’t get upset with the baby around.
It worked. When we came home from the hospital Rocky came up to the baby and sniffed him. That was all he needed to do to know that’s his new baby brother.
How A Dog Is Like Having A Baby
Having a dog before a child can be a great way to train yourself for a baby. You need to care for both and make sure you give them plenty of love and attention.
Although it’s easier to care for a dog than it is to handle a baby, you can prepare yourself for what to expect since a dog is like having a baby.
Below are 13 ways they are similar:
1. You get used to a schedule.
Caring for a pet can be exciting when you’re looking for tips on how to care for another life. With a pet, you’re thinking of another life and your own. It’s the perfect training for a pet.
2. You’re constantly moving.
Pets and kids require you to be more active. Whether you’re chasing them around or trying to get them to move, it’s important to note that both scenarios — a baby or a dog — will cause you to move more around more than usual.
3. Their happiness becomes your own.
Watching your pup play outside with other dogs or just run around in the grass is similar to watching your child play with friends. It’s exciting and you enjoy the time with both.
4. They will rely on you often.
Regardless of how old they get, both will become dependent of you. It’s what being part of a family is all about — you rely on each other.
5. They will cause you and your partner to work as a team.
Caring for a pup or a child is something that requires all hands on deck. The more you work together, the better they will become.
6. It takes a village as well.
When you care for a dog or care for a child, you’ll need the support of those around you. From family and friends, we’ve always relied on all to care for our pups.
Dog park friends are a blessing!
7. It works as practice for both.
If you can care for a pet, then you can be responsible for a child. The same goes for a pet.