Dogs and cats are often called starter children. They provide pet parents with unconditional love like a child would. They also require attention, food, water and medical care. Pets are a lot of responsibility, especially if you’ve never been able to keep a plant alive prior to getting your pooch or kitty.
For me, having my dog took me a step further in preparation for becoming a parent to a human baby.
My husband and I had a bit of a backward beginning to our relationship. We dated for several months, he moved in and we got engaged. Then about 10 months later, he moved out and began school across the country. We lived on opposite coasts for the first year of marriage. So when I finished school and joined him, things were a bit strained.
Not only had we forgotten how to be a couple, but also the day after I arrived, a third person joined our relationship: our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel puppy.
Emmett was (and still is) my firstborn. I had some time before I started work to house train him and take him to obedience classes. For the first month of our lives in Pennsylvania (he was born in Maryland), we spent every waking moment together.
My husband was getting used to a second year of school and having me in his life again and having a dog in his space. (Keep in mind, the dog was his idea). At the same time, I was getting used to being with him again in a new city and becoming a dog mom. Let’s just say many squabbles ensued.
But my chief complaint was that I felt he lavished more love on our pup than he did on me. I was partially correct. My husband has a much easier time doting on animals and children than he does on adults. But I was also jealous that our dog was getting attention that used to be reserved just for moi.
As time went by though, we began to co-parent our dog. We also began to set aside time for just the two of us, sans canine. This ensured that we were on the same page and neither of us felt that the other was giving our pup all the attention.
In short, we learned to be a family of three. So maybe our child would never learn to speak or feed himself or use the potty. But he was certainly our child.
When our dog was a little over 3 and a half, our daughter was born. My husband and I were tired and cranky but we never once had an argument stemming from feeling left out in our little family. In fact we welcomed the addition.
Our puppy on the other hand, he wasn’t too enamored with being a sibling. To this day, two and a half years later, he’ll still bark continuously at me when I’m holding his sister. And yet, the quiet dog we once new reemerges every night when his sister has gone to bed. So in a sense, we’ve also learned about how to manage sibling rivalry.
I feel blessed have both my dog and my daughter in my life. I believe my little Cavalier has helped prevent us from some making some parenting mistakes, especially where we as a couple are concerned. But like everyone always tells me, every parent makes mistakes. It’s just a matter of time. Ugh.
That said, I still never had to breastfeed my dog. That was a whole new venture I took on. It was also difficult when I could find any nursing tops that were stylish and had great function. I wanted breastfeeding shirts and pumping shirts that didn't look like they were for nursing and pumping. Luckily I took the time to design some. I know my pup can't appreciate that but I sure do!
The information contained on this site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant.