We have a new puppy!! We had lost our 12-year-old golden retriever several months ago and my husband and I were lonely, but not sure about taking on the responsibility of a new dog.Good Baby girl face At the same time, our youngest son said, “we are a dog family, a BIG dog family”, we need a dog. But I know what having a new dog is like, we have had puppies several times before, and it is really like having a new “toddler” in the house. It is a lot of work, just like parenting. So, I had decided that we would wait awhile until we had really grieved and were ready to “raise” another dog, especially with the holidays and an upcoming wedding.

As we all know, some things happen for a reason, and we received a phone call right before Thanksgiving about a yellow lab puppy, who was five-months-old and had been “returned” to the breeder by a family who had young children. This family had decided that they were just not ready for all of the ongoing work involved in caring for a puppy. As I said earlier, I am older and wiser, and our own family had been through the puppy stages before and it really took about two years to get beyond all of the puppy issues. I could understand how a family might return a dog, and actually respected them for realizing that they and their children were not ready for this commitment yet. Now, I was not sure that we were either.

So, we drive out to preview this puppy, and what puppy do you know of that is not totally precious? They are like any baby, all adorable, but they grow bigger and require more care, I know that being a pediatrician, (children and pets have many similar qualities). My husband on the other hand (who always swears, “we are just going to look”) immediately falls in love with the puppy. He is ready to bring her home, no questions asked. He immediately reminds me that the youngest son’s birthday is coming up, and this sweet lab puppy would be the perfect gift. Especially for a college boy who will be home in a day and will be so happy to have a “big dog” back in the house.!

You don’t need to read any more, as you know what happens next. Puppy comes home that night, is already the love of the house and our son couldn’t be happier. The nice thing about having older children is that he can help with “potty training” this dog, and he does enjoy taking her for a run. He is also getting up early to let her out and feed her (not his favorite”) and he was in the yard with coat and gloves on cleaning up her “poop”. His comment “I didn’t know there could be so much poop from one animal!” There is much joy from owning a puppy and having it become an integral part of your family. At the same time it does require responsibility, and just like children you must set limits and boundaries. We are working on not jumping on furniture (again much like a toddler) and she is really almost potty trained. She can sit on command and we are working on laying down. She still wants to run out the door and into the street (hmmm, safety and toddlers), and I am not sure that she does not have selective hearing, also similar to my own children.

The joys of pet ownership are great, but everyone in the family needs to be prepared for some responsibility. Discuss the challenges with your kids before you get a pet, so that they will help raise the kind of “child” we all aspire to as parents.

That’s your daily dose, we’ll chat again tomorrow.