As a parent do you sort of chuckle to yourself when you see a young couple all about their dog? You think “just wait” because you know that once a baby enters the picture the dog will no longer be treated like royalty?
My high school boyfriend bought me a dog when I was 16. I spent most nights alone at my “apartment” through high school and Sadie was there with me to keep me company. A warm body to hold at night or whenever I was afraid. I loved her like a child. When Zach and I got married and he wanted to have kids right away I said “let’s get another dog.” He’d never had the responsibility of a pet and let me tell you…pets can make great birth control haha. We bought Levi with money from our wedding gifts. I was pumped to be one of those girls who carried around her dog everywhere she went. I bought him personalized clothing. A Coach collar and leash. Ridiculous, I know.
Then I got pregnant with Kye. I was out to prove to the world that our dogs would still be just
as important. Equal members of our family. I worried how they would
adjust to Kye being there and it was actually my second biggest concern
when becoming a parent (my first being breastfeeding). The night Kye was
born Zach and I literally stayed up talking about how the dogs
would be so excited to meet him and how we wondered what they would do.
We even made sure to take extra time and effort when we brought Kye home from
Then Brittlynn was born. There was no concern about the dogs while I was
pregnant. There was no discussing them at the hospital. There was no
formal introduction of any kind when we got home. Heck, we pretty
much forgot they were even there. At this point in our lives the most
attention the dogs get is when we tell them to quit licking on
Brittlynn, to go outside to go potty, or to stop barking. I’m interested
to see what role they will play when baby #3 comes!!! Poor things have had to adjust from being spoiled to being forgotten!
I think there are seasons for pet ownership. Pre-babies, once kids are
older, and empty nest. Right now in our lives our pets are waaaaay
down on the priority list. I’m not saying we don’t love them, because
we do. We also take good care of them. But we just don’t really value
them right now and kinda consider them an annoyance. While they may not
be in my top 5 list of things I value at this phase in life, I DO see
the importance of having pets in the home. There are SO many benefits to
pet ownership, especially for children!
If you google “pet ownership benefits” a TON of sites come up. For us personally the biggest benefit of having pets has been the responsibility factor. Kye’s very first “job” was to give the dogs their treats when we lock them up in their crates. He now also lets them in and out to go potty, is on a constant look out for any accidents (Levi was COMPLETELY house broken but for some reason regressed some when we moved into our new house?!?!), and gladly tells them to “HUSH” whenever they get rowdy. Kye also helps with Zeke (our cat, he’s actually all of our favorite pet right now). He helps fill up Zeke’s food bowls and LOVES to cuddle up with him.
There are health benefits to owning pets as well. It’s been proven that people who own pets and children who grow up in homes with pets are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Pet owners tend to have higher self esteem, achieve higher academically, and live longer. Pet owners also tend to be sick less often overall than non-pet owners.
I often used to talk about what kind of dog we will get when Sadie passes away (she’s about 11 years old so our days with her are probably numbered). Zach would always say “we won’t own another dog until Levi passes away.” That used to bug me and I figured I would find some way to talk him into another dog when the time came. I assumed our precious children would give the sweet eyes to their daddy and we’d end up with another dog. Now, however, I agree with Zach. I think pet ownership is wonderful. There are many, many benefits to owning a pet. However, when you continue to add to your family with more and more children – I think three pets is too many. Zeke is easy. He uses a litter box, he never makes any noise or tries to run away when we open the door. When we travel we can just leave him extra food and he’s good to go. The dogs on the other hand take up a lot of time and energy. They also cost a lot more, especially with how often they need to be kenneled. Don’t get me wrong, we will ALWAYS have a dog. There is nothing like a sweet, loving dog cuddling up to you with nothing but unconditional love to give. However, we probably will never own two dogs again (at least not until we get to the empty nest phase of life!).
I’m thankful that our pets have adjusted so well to having kids at home. They have accepted the fact that we simply don’t have time for them anymore and that they are no longer the queen and king of the house. I’m thankful for what they bring to our family, and know that as our children get older they will play a larger role around here. Zach and I do, however, look back at ourselves and laugh though about how much we adored our pets pre-children. I’m sure there are many people out there who have kids and still spoil their pets…I just don’t think I’ve met any yet!