Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.
“It’s not our house without a dog”
Those were the words my children sang to me a few weeks after we arrived in our most recent home at the Coast Guard base in Kodiak, Alaska. I had previously met their “when will we get another dog?” with a simple “maybe soon- we’ll see.” I told them that getting a new dog and training him or her was a lot of work, and that mommy was kind of enjoying not having to clean so often and that our family was still getting used to being in a new home. . . I explained that our housing unit did not have a fence around the yard, and that we already have a dog (just “on vacation” with the in-laws for our tour in Alaska). . . I tried all of the adult logic that I could, and then with one line they convinced me to take yet another trip to the shelter like Hubs and I had done early on in our marriage and see if there was a helpless canine that struck our fancy that needed a nice place to live.
“Mommy, it’s not our house without a dog.”
It’s true, in the most literal sense, and in an emotional way. We have had a dog in the family (at times 2) since I was 5 months pregnant with Abbey. Raven (our now 8 year old lab) lived with us from before Abbey was born until we moved to Alaska last summer. She is now spending time with her dog-grandparents in Wisconsin – we weren’t sure how a move all the way to Alaska would affect her. The kids have never known a house without a dog. And obviously, having a dog in some way meant something to them. . . so we went to the shelter.
We came home with Mya, a pitt mix with a lovable personality, that had sadly been roughed up by the other dogs in her former home. You could see relatively new scars where she had been scratched and bitten, and she was energetic, to a fault. The poor thing really did need a loving home and some exercise and discipline. So, she became mine.
Mya is extremely strong, so I needed a little help training her to walk and obey. A neighbor gave me a pinch training collar and blessed me immensely by showing me how to safely use it to curb Mya’s pulling and teach her that I’m in charge. It was a real necessity in the beginning, but now, after consistent training, she walks and obeys without it for the most part. We got a yard and park training collar for her as well – it shocks if she needs a serious reminder like if she tries to dart out in front of a truck or jump on a child, but mostly, all Mya needs to hear are the positive and negative tones of the collar and she remembers what she ought to and ought not to do. I spend a lot of time training her to obey, and all of our neighbors remark at what a different dog she is now than when we first brought her home from the shelter.
The kids (now 3 and 5 1/2) assist with feeding and watering Mya and they love to pet, love, and play with her. Sometimes, they accompany us on walks, but Mya and I are pretty brisk walkers, so sometimes I walk Mya in laps around the park while the children play. Even though Mya is all muscle, she is very gentle with the children, and I am so happy for it.
In the past 10 months, Mya has come a long way from the neglected and super-hyper puppy that we adopted into a gentle, silly, and loving canine part of our family. It’s hard to imagine what kind of life our sweet dog would have if we had not decided to give her a second chance in our home. I’ll get on a soap box for a second and say that I agree wholeheartedly with Bob Barker: “please spay and neuter your pets!” because there are SO MANY unloved and unwanted pets in shelters all over the world that wouldn’t have been there if their parents had been spayed and neutered.
Some would wonder why I “gave in” to the pleas of the children and got “another dog” to take care of when I could have just stayed dog-less and avoided the cost, stress, cleaning (can you say shedding?), and extra responsibility that comes with being a dog owner. My answer to that question is that it’s not a dog or cat’s fault that they’ve come into the world. It’s not fair for them to be mistreated or to live in a shelter (no matter how humane). Abandoned, neglected, and abused pets don’t deserve to waste away with no one to love and discipline them. If I can help one have a comfortable and useful life, I will. In our married life, Hubs and I have fostered 2 puppies that we found on the street, and fully adopted 2 dogs that bring love, energy, joy and a sense of discipline and responsibility to our home.
So, I guess the kiddos were right when they said in their way-too-grown-up-tone: “But mommy: Our house is not our house without a dog.” Both Mya and Raven have challenged us to give attention, love, and discipline to something other than ourselves – and I think that in a nutshell, that’s a main positive of having a pet.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
- Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
- All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
- Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
- Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
- Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
- Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
- Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
- Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
- HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
- It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
- Canine Haikus —
Kids, dog, haikus, at
Dionna (Code Name: Mama).
- Beanie’s Bunnies — Our Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
- Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
- How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
- No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
- Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!