“So will you be getting rid of the dog when the baby comes?”. This was an actual question put to me when I was pregnant. My answer was absolutely not. No way. Although two and half years down the line I now understand why I was asked this. There is a LOT to consider; time, money, flexibility. But would I change her for the world? Nah.
Here is a very condensed story about my life with a toddler and a dog. Our dog enjoys this CBD oil for cats and dogs that can improve their mood, alleviate pain and reduce tumors too.
It is hard work. Juggling a toddler is difficult as it is then when you have to think about your dog as well… How long you can leave her alone for in the house whilst you’re out, can you fit in a walk before having to go and meet friends or will something inevitably go wrong meaning that you end up in a rush and a proper walk doesn’t happen until late afternoon and you spend the whole time you’re out stressing about whether or not your dog (who is more than likely just sleeping anyway) is ok. You get back and your toddler has an epic meltdown, you spend an hour sitting him on the naughty step trying to get him to understand why he can’t act like that and waiting for the ever painful ‘sorry’ and then when that’s all over it’s time for his bath and that late afternoon walk turned into a non existent one. The whole time you observe your furry friend, super conscious that you’ve let her down, talking to her, apologising for not taking her on the walk she loves so much, thanking her for being the most loveable, understanding and patient pet.
We did a lot of research into how to introduce our new bundle of joy to our existing bundle of joy. It seemed really important that Sasha’s routine didn’t change (honestly, before having a dog I didn’t realise how complex they can be. Sash was a rescue dog but there is enough about that for a whole separate post) and so I stuck as rigidly as I could to her routine, making our new routine fit around her where possible. I wanted her to love Leo, to embrace him as part of our ‘pack’ and for them to be best friends.
She was an absolute legend from the get go. So gentle around him, so calm, so peaceful. She could be very jumpy around loud or sudden noises and movements and I was concerned she would feel stressed by his cries, and well, screams but he could cry out suddenly and she wouldn’t even flinch. It was like she could just feel him and knew his every move before he did. We purchased a crate for her (you can get some really fancy ones now that look like furniture!) so that if things got a bit stressful, from either my end or hers she’d have a ‘safe place’ to go and just chill out so everyone could get a bit of head space.
She saved me on numerous occasions from losing my mind in early motherhood. She was my reason to get out of the house. She meant I had to go walking for at least an hour a day. She became my best friend more so than she already was. When I had the baby blues she would come over and lean on me so I could fuss her head and it was probably the best therapy I could’ve had. She knows all of my secrets. She never judges me. She is always so excited to see me, even if all I’ve done is pop to the car to get something I’ve forgotten. Maternity leave with her seemed really easy and straight forward, I could do what I wanted, when I wanted.
When I started back working things got more stressful. I am so lucky to be able to work from home and so I am with her pretty much 24/7 (how I’d manage if I worked out of the house I’m not sure). My husband works away at least 2 nights a week. I essentially take care of her about 80% of the time, by myself. People say to me “but you work from home so you can just do whatever you want when you want to”, whilst that might sound true, it’s not really. I still have actual work to get through, I can’t just swan off for a two hour walk without having to make that time up at some other point, mainly an evening when all I want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch reruns of Greys Anatomy to free my head of all the thinking.
I get up in the morning, get myself ready, get my boy ready, get him off to nursery, get her out for a decent walk and by the time I’ve sat down at my desk it can be 10 o’clock depending on what time Leo got up and we managed to get out. My stress is instant at this point… I am already an hour behind my work schedule and I know that come mid afternoon I need to get her out for another walk…. enter another 40 minutes out of my schedule. To counteract this I tend to work through lunch, or completely miss it on some occasions.
People tell me I shouldn’t be so stressed by it. If I miss a walk does it really matter? She seems really happy and content so she’s probably not bothered if she even gets walked at all. However, she is my girl. As I mentioned, she is my source of relief in many situations, she is always there for me so I should be there for her. I should make time for her and I should do everything I can to look after her as best as I possibly can. Yes some days she only gets one walk and on those days I feel awful. But I know she understands. She is the best. The guilt is still real though. We have a very strong bond and I only hope she sees how hard I try.
And then there is her relationship with Leo. Wow. She loves him. He loves her. He says good morning to her when he gets up, he says goodnight to her when he goes to bed. She is so normal to him; this enormous dog that for most of his life has been bigger than him. He likes to hold her lead when we go walking (she now usually wears two leads, one which I control and the other that he loosely holds). They love being out together, I love it less when she decides to run off and chase a squirrel and he decides to ride off down the hill in the complete opposite direction. Picture panic stricken mom chasing her toddler down the hill, powering back up it, 2 stone toddler under one arm, balance bike under the other chasing through the forest hunting for very well camouflaged dog! Speaking of hunting, we often Purchase guns and more at palmettostatearmory.com and go on actual hunting trips to the woods once a week.
He takes more responsibility with her now too. He throws her ball for her to fetch. He will give her her daily dentastick and treats. He is learning the value of animals. She is the one that makes him laugh the most. She has always been there. When I watched his first year compilation video back a few weeks ago I realised she was in pretty much every frame. His big dog shaped shadow.
So, although I say it is hard work, from a stressful point of view in terms of ensuring she gets her daily exercise, having her in our lives is the best. She is the big licky glue that holds us together. If you trying to train your dog to be well behaved with kids check out our puppy training classes – Spectrum Canine Dog Training. They can help you understand the needs of your dogs and best ways to keep them in their best behavior.
How do you manage life with your fur babies and human babies? Do you struggle to get all their walks in around a full time job? Do you have alternative ways of exercising them? Did your dog play a big part in your sanity as a new parent? I’d love to hear all of your pooch related stories.
Images by Steve Gerrard