On having little kids and crazy dogs.Tuesday, January 13, 2015
One of the questions I was asked on my blog recently is about having a dog and whether I find dog ownership hard with a little kid. Answer? Yes. Dogs require a lot of time and energy, and kids require even more time and energy, and I don't have a ton of time or energy to spare. It's challenging for sure but worth it...but I'll get to that later. Let's talk about the challenges first.
Peter and I leave our house on weekday mornings around 7:20 a.m. I usually get home from picking up Eli around 5:45 p.m., and Pete is usually about half an hour or so later. That means our dog is home alone for more than 10 hours, which I can only imagine is not the most fun. When we're getting ready in the morning, we aren't really spending time hanging out with the dog - we're going full tilt to get everybody fed, cleaned, and dressed in an hour, so the dog is lucky to get a couple of handfuls of food in his bowl and a break to go out and run around the yard for a few minutes. When we leave, he's there at the door until the very last second, I guess saying goodbye before we leave for the day. I don't know what he does all day but I'd like to set up a hidden camera to see it.
So, we get home, and I let Rory out in the yard as soon as we're in the house, because I can only imagine he's dying to get outside. Eli and I usually hang out for a bit and then I start getting dinner ready. Eli and Rory are usually in the kitchen too, and Eli is usually hanging all over Rory, which is actually really sweet. I'm happy Eli likes Rory so much and is so eager to give him some much-deserved attention and play, and I'm grateful that Rory, who's pretty high-energy, seems to understand that Eli is a little person and tones it down appropriately. Eli climbs on him, grabs his tail, hugs him, gets him in a headlock, you name it, and that dog just sits there and takes it.
We eat dinner and Rory gets kicked out to his bed, because we don't need to have a dog hanging around begging during meal time - that's gross. After dinner Pete or I (or sometimes we'll take turns and both do it) will take Rory for a walk around our neighbourhood so he gets at least a little bit of exercise each day. Then he often passes out in the room with us when we're watching TV or hanging out afterwards. That's it. In warmer months we probably do spend more time every day out in the yard with him or going on family walks but lately, it's dark when we get home from work so we're definitely not clamouring to play outside for hours.
Before Eli, Rory got a lot more attention. Pete and I could take him on a long walk whenever we felt like it. We'd put Rory in the car and drive to a park and let him roam around and see some new sights. Now, the four of us are barely ever in the car together because Eli's car seat is humungous, I drive a Honda Civic, and the logistics of dog fur and dog blanket and kid apparatus and snacks and whatnot is a nightmare I'd rather not play out. It's hard to find time to groom him and he never gets to play with other dogs.
BUT. On to the positives. Rory and Eli are best friends. They keep each other occupied when I'm cooking or cleaning up. Rory makes Eli cackle with laughter the way Peter and I can't. He eats the food Eli drops on the floor, on the chair, wherever - he reduces our daily housecleaning time dramatically. Having a dog at home has made Eli super comfortable around animals, but also respectful of them, too - he understands that dogs don't like having their tails pulled or their ears twisted and he knows about asking before petting a strange dog.
And Rory has also been great company for me, too. When Eli was a newborn and we were home all day, alone, Rory was there to hang out with. When Peter's away overnight, I feel more comfortable and safe knowing Rory's in the house with his excellent ears and extremely loud bark.
So, that's it in a nutshell. Dog ownership with a little kid is a challenge but worth it, too. I think it's like everything else in life when you have a kid - the good AND the bad get amplified - so I feel 10 times more annoyed when Rory acts shitty BUT I'm 10 times more grateful he's around because I see how much he and Eli love each other. I grew up with dogs, and I'm happy Eli gets to do the same.