*Spoiler alert: You’re never ready. But sometimes you just have to jump in.*
My husband has wanted a dog for a long time. It took me looking through an old journal to realize that his desire for a dog dates back all the way to our first year of marriage, about eleven years ago. That’s quite a long stretch to hold onto a dream deferred!
This year, his wish finally became a reality.
Every time he has brought it up in the past, I was always prepared with a list of reasons why adding a pet to our home would be a disaster. However, this year I could no longer hold off the dreaded day with my flimsy excuses and cautious reasoning. This year, I gave up the battle and finally agreed that my husband should get a dog.
But was our family truly ready to add a new member to its ranks? Here are a few reasons why we were able to confidently (well, cautiously on my end) feel ready for this transition:
1. We have a more flexible schedule now.
One of the reasons for my original caution was the fact that I commute a long distance across town for work and spend ten hours outside of the home on most weekdays. I couldn’t justify keeping a dog under those conditions, locked up in a cage. However, less than a year ago, my husband switched jobs and now has a more flexible schedule that allows him to work from home. Having that flexibility with his work schedule was a key factor in deciding whether we could devote enough time to a new dog to really care for him properly.
2. Our boys have been BEGGING.
My husband isn’t the only one who has been petitioning for a new pet. Our boys are young and they had no idea of the amount of care that goes into raising an animal, but they have been quick and eager learners. It’s key to have children who are old enough to help out with basic care like filling up a food or water bowl, brushing, and opening the back door to let the dog outside. When we go on walks, they fight over who gets to hold the leash to walk our puppy. And the real bonus is that they can all play together in the yard or living room, and tire each other out before nap time and bed time!
I’m not sure I would have enough energy to keep up with our new puppy, but my boys seem to have boundless energy, so it works out really well. Because our puppy is in a chewing phase, it also gives our boys a REAL motivation to keep their toys off the floor and keep the house clean. Before, cleaning was just a chore that mommy enforced unfairly, but now, if they leave their toys on the floor, their dinosaurs and stuffed animals may get chewed and destroyed by the puppy. Our dog is teaching our kids how to have a sense of responsibility and ownership, which is something that I never anticipated coming out of all of this!
3. After kids, a puppy is easy peasy.
Having a brand new puppy, I’ve found, is much like having a baby — except it’s not quite as taxing, and a puppy grows at a much faster rate than a human child. We’re using many of the same parenting skills that we’ve used to help our two boys, and after raising children, it all just seems easier. When we first brought our puppy home, he was not able to sleep through the night and he would often cry in the wee hours of the morning. Before kids, this would have seemed like a nightmare. However, after surviving two newborn babies, I feel more equipped to be patient with a little puppy at 3am. And honestly, our dog quickly moved out of this stage (in the course of a week), whereas my children took months and MONTHS to get there.
We also needed to “potty train” our new puppy, which is something we only recently accomplished with our oldest son. Our son took close to a year to really get it right and stop having accidents, but our puppy figured it out in a matter of days. We used relatively the same methods that we used with our son (taking him to go every hour on the hour), and it wasn’t long before we could stretch the time in between trips and rely on our dog to request to go outside by crying at the door. We’re dealing with chewing right now (which is also a phase that our two boys went through), and while it is annoying and requires diligent monitoring and discipline, I know that like everything else, our new dog will also figure this out and move on from this phase quickly. We haven’t had him long, but he’s already growing so fast, and he won’t be a puppy forever.