OK. I confess. This isn’t a totally original post. About seven months ago, I posted something similar to my Tumblr, which focuses on my life as a new dog mom. I wanted to share it here with a few updates.
There’s some emerging research that suggests that women, in particular, love their dogs like children. Well, yes. Shocker. The research says that our brains respond to our dogs the way we would respond to our children.
Well, if that’s the case, Bailey has given me a pretty clear picture of how I’ll be as a parent.
My kids will be spoiled: I really hope I can keep this from happening, but considering the fact that every time I go to the pet store, I come home with a new toy for Bailey, it’s highly unlikely.
I won’t trust anyone: There is a small handful of people that I trust to care for Bailey for more than an afternoon. Daycare for a human child is going to be a nightmare. On top of that, the look Bailey gives me as I drive away from the house breaks my heart.
I will be slightly paranoid: I really don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but I did buy my dog a light so I could keep an eye on her when she’s in the yard at night. That’s really one step away from implanting a GPS chip in your child.
I won’t be a cry-it-out parent: The first night of Bailey’s crate training, I gave in to her wails and howls, and I let her out. We slept on the floor together next to her crate. A week later, we brought her into our room, and she slept on the floor next to our bed for the next couple of months.
And, in case you’re wondering, this system actually worked out just fine for us. Bailey was housebroken very quickly. She was crated during the day and while she never learned to absolutely love her crate, she was just fine in it.
I will give in to sharing the bed: Originally, I didn’t want Bailey sleeping in our bed. It’s just too small for two people, two cats and a 60-pound dog. This went to hell when we brought her home from the vet after being spayed. She was unusually whiny so we let her up in our room for the first time. After 45 minutes of trying to get her to stay in her own bed, she spent the night in ours. For a few months, Bailey slept with us all night. Thankfully, without any real formal training, Bailey spends most of the night in her own.
If my kid has a nightmare, you can sure bet I’ll let her sleep in my bed.
Training tip: I always make sure I reward Bailey when she goes on her bed voluntarily. I keep a bag of treats in my nightstand so when she hops off our bed and into hers, I toss her a treat. She started this behavior on her own, but now I’m working on reinforcing it.
I won’t handle the exhaustion well. At all: I’m told that the first month with an 8-week-old puppy is much like the first few weeks of parenthood. I didn’t sleep at all and could barely function at work. I was so tired I cried all the time. I felt emotionally broken and thought about taking her to a shelter every day*. I’m really looking forward to that, said no one ever.
*Obviously I didn’t, and my life would actually be a giant mess without this dog, so clearly we got through it.
Maybe I won’t suck at parenting: I would never equate raising a dog to raising a child, but I was pretty damn terrified to raise a dog. I never had a dog and I had an overwhelming fear that I was going to turn her into this aggressive, misbehaved monster. I was sure that I was going to seriously screw Bailey up.
Bailey is by no means perfect, but she’s pretty awesome. People often remark how well behaved she is, especially for her age. So maybe I won’t royally suck at parenting. Maybe I won’t screw up my kids’ lives all that much. Maybe they’ll turn out fairly normal.
Did your pets teach you anything about parenting? Leave me a note in the comments.