I have realized that it has been a long time since I have blogged about the dogs in our family and the inspiration for the title of our blog Ruff Ruminations. Another blogger was considering recently adding a furry member to her already very full household and it inspired me to write a bit more about our life with kid and dogs.
We have two dogs. Our first dog came after much convincing (about 4years) and moving into our own home. Brian never wanted a dog and I have always wanted one. We had one briefly growing up but she was hit bit a car while we were on vacation and we were never able to convince my mom to go for it again. In fact I was so adamant about owning a dog that I told Brian in no uncertain terms that if there was not a puppy in our future then there was no future!
And so we welcomed Rebar into our home. We got her as an 8 week old puppy from a lady in Okotoks who had a purebred labrador female that her husband desperately wanted to breed so their vet matched them up with another family with a pure bred male labrador. Rebar was the low price of $400 from the bargain finder as she would not be a registered purebred. I chose her because she was big, and cute and seemed to like me. I faked sick that day to drive out to Okotoks and pick her out trying to surprise Brian but the surprise was ruined when he called me to inquire about the large cash withdrawl from our account! In any case he came home that night to a new puppy who was just to darn cute to resist. Below is my absolute favorite photo of Rebar. She is an old soul even though she is 6 years old and she has always been calm, docile and loving from the start. Her sweet nature permeates so much that I have had strangers stop me and ask if she ever breeds. But we got her fixed at 6 months so no, even though the vet remarked she had an extra long uterus (not sure what we supposed to do when we heard that, ask for it to be put back?).
Little Miss Mardi Gras, or Mardi for short. Came into our lives because many of our friends with dogs did a fantastic job convincing us two was better AND easier than one. This is a bold faced lie! And the reason I tell everyone why we are sticking to one kid! Fool me once...Basically there is no guarntee the dogs will play together or require the same level of exercise. And like our dogs they could end up with opposite personalites. But they are figuring it out and Rebar, true to her nature, is very much like Nana from Peter Pan. She is motherly with Grady and Mardi, always stepping in when needed.
In any case Mardi is a rescue from Hurricane Katrina, she is a the product of the abandoned dogs roaming the streets when their families had to leave. Mardi is and was a handful, but she is my favorite (I know your not supposed to have favorites, another good reason for only one kid!) She just has such personality! Mardi will never start a fight but she sure as heck will finish it and doesn't take kindly to anyone stepping out of line! Unfortunately sometimes the slightest growl or over zealous sniff from another dog can set her off. Lucky for us she listen well and we are very aware of her triggers. We are proactive about when and how we walk her off leash and do our best to ensure nothing happens (so don't judge!) Mardi is so very protective that I had to stop walking her when I was pregnant because she was extra on edge. There is just something about her eyes that are so expressive, you swear she is trying to communicate to you! I don't have a favorite photo yet of Mardi but here is one that shows her off pretty good.
Pros to Dogs and Kids:
-they play well together once they learn to play together
-Grady loves to pretend to be a dog and fetch is as exhausting for him as for the animals
-they bring unconditional love to your family
-they teach how to care for someone
-they show us the importance of being a group
-they clean up the little messes
-they cost more than you expect sometimes
-they don't always like the kids
-there are many places you can't take them, even while camping. E.G. On far away vacation, the beach, to other people's homes
-kids and dogs together mean lots of mess. Spilled food, broken toys,shedding, kids attempting to "feed" dogs etc
-it is hard to walk dogs with a toddler because inevitablly someone doesn't get enough excercise
I'm sure there are more things to add to each list but those are some basics. Other things I have learned:
-babies and dogs are a good mix, because you can put babe in the stroller and exercise the dogs and the dogs are very watchful of the baby. For example Rebar used to follow whoever was hold Grady if it was not me to make sure they were doing the job right! She was definitely out of sorts the first time he was fed pumped milk from a bottle.
-kids age 2-5 and dogs don't mix the kids are too unpredictable for the dogs and you are too used to how good the dog was when the kid was a baby.
But I won't give up the dogs unless I absolutely HAD to. We have zero tolerance to snapping by the dogs and hitting by the kid. Growling is encouraged, in fact we had to teach Rebar to growl because she was so sweet she didn't know how, but it is necessary to allow Grady to understand they dogs have had enough. I look forward to the many years we have left with Mardi and Rebar!