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Dogs and parenthood do mix — quite nicely

You hear a lot these days about young couples foregoing parenthood and opting for a dog instead. You hear a lot, too, about young couples who take in a dog as practice for when a real baby comes along.

There’s  nothing wrong, in my view, with either.

What often gets ignored though — amid the kind of scoffing the dogless sometimes do at dog peoples’ commitment to their animals – is the fact that dogs, while not the equivalent of a child, do indeed prepare young couples for parenthood.

And that’s just the beginning.

After that, they go on to help those children grow up with a healthy respect for living things, teaching them about love and loyalty. And, after the kids depart, dogs help fill the void –  though usually not the same dog — of an empty nest.

They, like some brands of dog food, in fact, are there for all the cycles of our human lives — including the the onset of parenthood.

Rebecca Dube does beautiful job of describing how her dog helped prepare her for parenthood in this week’s Toronto’s Globe and Mail – in a piece whose writing was prompted, sadly, by death of the family’s beagle, Lily:

“My dog was my baby; and now that I have an actual baby, I see that my dog prepared me for motherhood far better than any of those What to Expect books.”

Rebecca and her husband adopted Lily from a rescue group, altering their lives in  numerous ways — from cleaning up shed hair to shifting their schedules, to dictating where to vacation and where to live — and once Lily got sick, affecting the budget as well.

Lily lived much longer with cancer than the three months her vet originally predicted, long enough to meet the newest addition to the family.

Rebecca writes that, once she became ill, they never questioned the time and money they were investing in her: “She was our baby … And then along came a real baby.

“Our son, Elijah, arrived 10 days early, and we brought him home on a Saturday night. All through my pregnancy, I’d hoped for the moment we finally got, when we introduced Elijah to Lily, and stroked his tiny baby hand against her soft fur. In my greedy heart I wanted them to have years together, for him to laugh at her wagging tail, for her to wait patiently for scraps beneath his high chair. But that tiny bit of grace would have to be enough. Lily died early Monday morning…

“My dog was my baby. She taught me that a slobbery, stinky creature could pee on my shoes, poop everywhere, complicate my life in a million aggravating ways – and at the same time inspire so much love that my heart felt like it would burst with happiness. She taught me and my husband how to go from two to three. She taught us how to be a family…

Rebecca writes that, when Elijah gets old enough to understand, she’ll show him the photos of him and Lily, “and tell him that for a few days he had the best dog a boy could ever want.”

(Photo: Elijah and Lily, Toronto Globe and Mail)

Comments

Comment from Clint Cora
Time May 23, 2010 at 9:42 am

Obviously, in time, they should bring in another dog to show the same benefits to the child.

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