Puppy Love

I had not one, but two home visits today with families that have recently acquired a puppy.  Both were probably mutts, one short-haired with a sweet face and sad eyes, and the other a teeny, fluffy, Maltese-looking thing.  Both pretty small for little ones to be handling.

At the first visit, the one with the fluffy pup, the not-even-two-year-old kept grabbing the poor thing around its neck.  The child’s mother did nothing to stop this, so I had to show her, several times, how to hold the puppy under its front legs instead.  But my instruction did nothing–every time she picked it up, it was around its tiny neck.  And Fluffy only protested once with a barely-audible yelp.  I swear, if I hadn’t been there, she would have killed the thing, and her mother probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

The second visit was with a slightly older child, but she, too, had a habit of picking the dog up by its neck.  And when she wasn’t holding it around the neck, she was pulling at its front legs saying, “dance,” over and over again, until I thought she would rip something out of place and injure the sad-looking puppy.  Again, I instructed her to be gentle and showed her how to hold the puppy without hurting it.

During both these visits, I had two thoughts*: One, I want a puppy.  And two, we will never, ever get a puppy (or kitten, for that matter) when our kids are this young.  It’s just asking for trouble.  A two-year-old doesn’t understand how fragile another living thing is.  Plus, it’s a lot of work on top of wrangling a toddler all day.

Hubby and I have always talked about getting a dog.  Someday.  Another one of those things that has to wait until we’re settled somewhere, have a house with a yard, and one of us (probably me) has the time and patience to train and care for one.  And while puppies are adorable, I’ve never had one in my adult life, and tend to think getting a mature dog from a shelter is a better idea.  Especially if we wait to get one until after we have kids.

Not that I necessarily want to wait.  Infertility is such a lonely experience, and dogs are such great companions.  I feel like, if Hubby ever does get a job, I’ll be by myself more often and–no offense to my cats (whom I love and am, in fact, sandwiched between right now)–I might need a little company.  I do not, however, think that I can replace my need for a child with a puppy.  Dogs fill an entirely separate purpose.


On an almost-completely-unrelated note, there is a conference in our city this week, and many of Hubby’s friends from grad school are in town to attend it.  We just had dinner with a bunch of them, and I realized as we were talking that A) most of them have kids (and real jobs) by now, and B) everyone there either had cats or no pets at all.

I think there’s a reason for the latter.  Cats are so low-maintenance.  You can go out of town to a conference for a few days and pretty much leave them to fend for themselves.

As for the former, I’m just glad none of them asked when it was going to be our turn.  Apparently they all got it out of their systems when they saw Hubby earlier in the week, though, and even he became annoyed with this question.  And it’s not easy to annoy Hubby.

After this weekend, things should get back to normal.  Hubby goes back to teaching his class and trying to find a job.  I go back to being content with my cats for now.  And we both just keep waiting.


*Actually, I had three thoughts.  The third was that when my brothers and their families briefly lived together, and their children were just a couple of months apart (I think they were three at the time), they thought it would be a good idea to get a kitten.  Until the day one of the kids threw the kitten down the stairs–with a very sad outcome.  My niece, being only three at the time, had a very good excuse for the sudden passing of the kitten: “[Nephew’s name] didn’t catch it.”  Yet another reason I will not be getting any small animals while my kids are still too young to understand consequences.


15 thoughts on “Puppy Love

  1. Ive got 3 dogs,one being a new puppy who is 4 months old and they are the light of my life. I dont know what I would have done without them.Yes,people may think Im using them as a replacement for a real baby,but they arent with them every day and dont understand the joy they bring me.Your right though, I get so mad when I see parents buying puppies for their toddlers with the excuse that they will “grow up together”….

    I also want to let you know I nominated you for an award.
    Have a wonderful day!

    • Thanks! Dogs are just always so happy to see you. My cats, on the other hand, couldn’t care less most of the time. Except first thing in the morning, and then they try to break down the bedroom door! (Hubby doesn’t let them sleep with us.) I’m glad your dogs bring you such joy.

  2. Those stories of the kids with the pets frighten me! I think getting a dog is always a great idea even when you know it can’t fill in a void. Dogs are so wonderful!

    • I knew you would understand! Your dogs are so cute. We always had dogs when I was a kid, but I guess as an adult I’ve become more of a cat person. Only because I haven’t had the space for the kind of dog I really want, though.

  3. So I’ve got 3 dogs, and 2 cats, and a baby due late December… but I think one KEY difference is that our kid will come into the world and from day one, we will be teaching him or her to be gentle with the animals. I think it makes a difference, rather than introducing a difficult subject at the rocky ages of 2 and 3. Also, our animals are older, not kittens or puppies. So they will be fairly patient, but also able to get away if they don’t want to be around the kid. Of course we may run into problems… but I’m probably hyper aware of the stereotypical pitfalls from working at a vet office and seeing children interact with pets. The bottom line is that children and pets are never together, unsupervised. And babies really should never be unsupervised anyway (unless in a safe place like a crib). Does that sound overwhelming? Kinda. But my pets have been with us for a long time and I can’t imagine getting rid of them just because we have a kid coming. Our pets are just that – PETS. We do not think of them as our “kids” (it makes me gag when people call their pet’s their “kids” or “babies”) However I also really understand where you’re coming from. You’ve got to do what makes you comfortable!

    • I’m sure you’ll teach your kids how to play nice with the animals. And in your case, even if you had a puppy or kitten, it’d be fully grown by the time your child is old enough to play with it. You’re a responsible pet owner, and I know you’re going to be a great mom, so I’m sure nothing like what I witnessed yesterday would happen at your house! 🙂

      • Thanks. I hope I do a good job!!! The stories of those two families are SHAMEFUL. They not only do a disservice to the animal (allowing it to be scared or hurt) but a HUGE disservice to their child by not carefully instructing and guiding them. I’ve seen children intentionally drop puppies, because they didn’t understand that they were LIVING THINGS, not toys. Those parents, in subtle ways, are allowing they child to fall into habits of animal cruelty that can become intentional, malicious actions later in life… Those parents also set themselves up for the scenario of the day the dog really gets scared or hurt, and bites the child in an attempt to defend itself. Not only will they end up with an injured kid, but now an animal that will most likely be euthanized as “dangerous” because the parents didn’t do their jobs.

  4. Want someone to talk you into it? I got Scout before I met J in an effort to avoid becoming “the cat lady.” Honestly, I think we would be much more lonely right now if it weren’t for her. Not because she’s a kid replacement, but because she gives us something to do. That said, when I got her, I crate trained her and lived about 5 minutes from my office so it was pretty easy. I can’t imagine doing it now. I don’t think I’ll get another dog when she leaves us, though. She does limit life a bit when it comes to traveling and such. A cat would be better in that regard. How’s that for talking you into it? 😉

    • I couldn’t possibly be talked into it right now, but I’m thinking as soon as Hubby gets a job and we move somewhere, that’ll be one of the first things I look into!

      • I would love a biiiig dog, like a great dane, or something. But it’ll probably be the biggest mutt we can find at the local shelter.

  5. By the neck?! Poor little critters. I’d love a dog too but it wouldn’t fit well into our “lifestyle.” We’re willing to change that for a kid, but not a dog. Once it’s changed, and once we have a yard … bring on the puppies!

    • I know. I felt so bad for those poor little puppies. Yeah, dogs are definitely a lot more work than cats, and we’re also waiting to have a yard. Which may or may not happen, even after we move to wherever we’re moving.

  6. I’m so glad you were able to teach those kids how to handle their pets! it amaze me how clueless or non caring some people are.
    During the last year I have realized how much work and time you have to put aside for a dog. At the same time the house gets very empty when they are not around anymore, going home again.
    I have also heard some scary stories with small children and dogs, things can happen very fast. I guess as BT stated above – they shouldn’t be left unsupervised. Some of the dogs we have for boarding won’t come back if/when we have a child.

    • Yeah, it was pretty horrifying to see not only how these kids were treating their puppies, but how their parents couldn’t have cared less. I’m often tempted to run right out and get a dog, but then I remember how much work they are, and how we just don’t have the space for one. Maybe someday.

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