Friday, March 8, 2013

A Baby and a Dog

           A baby and a dog, many people do not think these two things go together well. I see things very differently. If you are an animal person, having a baby will only strengthen your bonds with your animals and will teach your child to be an animal lover as well. I am not saying if you are about to have a baby to go get a pet. However, if you are an avid animal lover and have a pet I think that unlike many things you will read and be told they go extremely well together if you respect certain rules.
    Vito is our four year old black Labrador Retriever. We have had him for three years. We also have two cats, however, they are for another blog post at another time. Vito is a wonderful dog who we adore. We always have. He is very well behaved, very sweet and very loving. He loves playing outside, particularly ball, he loves chewing on rawhide bones and he loves going to the beach to swim in the ocean and lay in the sand. Pretty much he loves life.
   There was no question when I found out that I was pregnant what would happen to our pets. We knew exactly that they were still part of our family. Pets are not on the same plain as children but they have their own plain. Life with Vito has only gotten better since Xavier has been born. I will admit coming home from the hospital and barely being able to do anything and having a dog can be difficult but so can many other task,s like say, showering. However, here is a list of what is so much better about raising a baby with a dog

        Why Dogs and Babies are The Best!

1) You have an extra set of eyes. Sure Vito does not tell Xavier to not throw stuff in the toilet, but anything huge, like a garbage knocked over, going near the pet food, or opening a door and Vito is there too. You have to be really absorbed in something to not notice your baby and a giant dog missing as well.  Vito always checks on Xavier if Xavier is doing something out of the ordinary.

2) Free clean up! Yup, this is my favorite. I honestly don't know how parents without dogs do it. At least three meals a day Xavier drops tons of food on the floor, the extra chairs and on himself. Yet, after lunch, Vito "vacuums" and there are no crumbs in site.

3)  An extra toy! Xavier is lucky to have a rather large, black, fuzzy toy who will chase him, nuzzle him and even roll the ball back and forth to him. Since we have a lab he also has been known to steal Xavier's squeaky ducks and hide them from Xavier.

4) Xavier has learned to be gentle and compassionate. This is a big one. For having a boy he knows when and where to be a "boy". He knows that a pet demands respect like a person. That our house is also Vito's house. We do not bug Vito when he is sleeping in his bed, or eating. We never hit, kick, or purposely pull Vito. We affectionately, pet and kiss and hug and play with Vito every chance we get.

5) Vito has taught Xavier respect for animals. That Xavier has to respect Vito's belongings, his bed, his red ball, and his food. Those are only Vito's and Xavier is not to mess with them. That even though pets are our family they still have their own likes and dislikes as well.

6) Vito teaches Xavier dedication. It does not matter that you would rather play with your cars. It is Vito's time to play ball or be walked and we do that for him.

7) Most of all I am proud to teach my son that animals are not property. That they are part of your family. You do not get rid of them just because you are sick of them. You don't leave them outside to fend for themselves. Animals are amazing in their own special way and I am so glad that Xavier is learning just that from all of our pets.

   I will also say, that animals help you discipline your child. Yes, you read that. I am not comparing as you cannot compare apples to oranges, but Nick and I learned how to discipline and be a united front when Vito was a puppy. We learned a lot of responsibility and priorities early with a dog, that I am glad we only had to strengthen when having a baby.
    I hope this makes you think about the animals and children in your life and see that there is not as big of a difference as you may have thought. That in the end there is enough love and time to go around for all if you set the right rules and boundaries. Children and animals are a wonderful thing and letting your child grow up with a pet is a great gift for them.

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