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Sunday, September 27, 2020

What It's Like Having a Dog, Two Years Later


This summer was 2 years from when we brought our dog, Snickers, home. Getting her, while something I've wanted my whole life, was a more or less "split second" decision. One day I'm talking with my son Lee about getting a dog, the next day I talked with my therapist about whether or not it was right for that stage in my life, the next day I found her, and the day after we brought her home. I wasn't incredibly prepared for it, and some people, when making a spontaneous decision such as that, end up regretting it, and then try rehoming the dog not much later. Which makes me sad, because that is traumatic for the dog, not to mention for the family. But fortunately, spontaneous and all, getting a dog was absolutely the right decision for our family, and I couldn't ask for a more perfect dog. After 2 years, and off the "honeymoon high" I just wanted to share some of the ups and downs about having a dog in our family.

First of all, the biggest thing is the love. Having a pet like Snickers just means there's an extra being to love in the home. No, I don't consider her my baby- I had four babies, and raising them is quite different from having a dog. But I don't love her any less, it's just a different love. The kids all adore her, though if I had to specify, I'd say Rose and Lee probably spend the most time with her. But she is an integral part of our family, and I've never regreted for one second getting her.

One thing that can be a little challenging, to be honest, is taking her out for enough walks. We have a yard which she is able to use, but she really should be taken on longer walks more frequently than she gets. It's always a fight to get the kids to take her out for walks, and I can be lazy too. That, if I had to be honest, is probably the most "difficult". Add to that the stress of lockdowns and quanrantines, it makes this challenge even bigger.

Sometimes, when Snickers doesn't get enough walks, or even sometimes when she does, she gets up to trouble. She's eaten my daughter's stuffed animal that she uses for bed, as well as her replacement stuffed animal. She chewed up my favorite shoe. She chewed up a few other pairs of shoes. She ate some groceries that were left on the table. Chewed off some dolls fingers and feet. And yes, when this happens I get annoyed. And my kids get annoyed. But I remind myself and them that she's an animal. Animals do things like that. And she's an especially curious and bright dog. And to stop her from making trouble, she needs to be given enrichment opportunities along long walks, games, be taught tricks, anything to make her mind work. And also not keep things in her reach if we don't want her to get to them. I've told my daughters that if they don't put away their toys, things like that happen. It's a natural consequence, not something Snickers does to be "bad". So if I had to pick the most difficult part about having a dog, its probably the responsibility of making sure Snickers has enough richment and the house is in order enough for things to not get ruined.

Speaking of Snickers getting into things she shouldn't, twice already I got home and found she ate foods that were dangerous for her. The first time I needed to call a vet for an emergency visit (and pay for it) but fortunately she was ok. The second time the vet instructed me over the phone what to do, to force hydrogen peroxide down her throat, to make her puke up the bad stuff. That wasn't pleasant. I almost vomited from cleaning up her vomit. Also, occasionally, she vomits in the house, and I need to clean that up. My kids asked me "Mommy, are you mad at Snickers for vomiting?" Definitely not, I told them. She's a creature and sometimes creatures don't feel well and they throw up, and just like I wouldn't be mad at my kids for throwing up, why would I get mad at Snickers? Again, like with her chewing up things she shouldn't, this is something for me to learn, to keep foods that are dangerous for Snickers out of her reach.

She is such a soft and cuddly dog and loves to cuddle on my bed with me, with the kids in their bed, on the couch, etc. Her fur is soft to touch, she's one of the softest dogs out there. It's hard for me to pet other dogs after touching her, because no one has fur quite as soft as hers. But she sheds. My clothes are usually covered in dog hair. (That's because when I don't get around to putting away the clean laundry fast enough and just leave it on my bed, Snickers decides to sleep on it.) My couch has dog hair. We have random fluff balls on our floor from her fur. I really need to by myself something like SleekEz.com's dog grooming tool to remove her shedding hair from her as well as the furniture.

Our costs for having her have not been significant. I pay for the veterinarian as needed, which fortunately hasn't been too expensive. I have a sinking fund in my budget to pay for that, since pet insurance isn't really a thing where we live. We don't just feed her raw anymore, but a combination. She gets pet food supplemented with lots of stuff from our kitchen, and she's grown a lot, and is an great and healthy shape. Her one "health issue" is that she has cherry eye, which I've written about before. But though the first many times she got it we were able to massage it back in, at this point it won't go back in no matter how much its massaged, and we can only get rid of it via surgery, about $250 dollars per eye. I asked the doctor if it was something cosmetic or if it bothers her or is bad for her health, and the doctor told me it is just cosmetic. Because of this, I haven't rushed to do the surgery, but am saving up for it/will do it when money is a bit less tight. But it is an expensve with having a dog.

There have been discipline things that have come up with my kids regarding the dog, when some consider the dog a toy as opposed to a living being with feelings, and then the other kids trying to defend the dog and fighting with the kids. So we've worked with the family therapist about how to deal with this issue, which isn't a "dog issue" but a parenting issue, and fortunately that has very much improved. The good thing about this "issue" though is how much the kids all love the dog that they end up being posessive of her. But I do try to remind them that Snickers has feelings and can express them, and can defend herself.


Speaking of which, I could not ask for a kinder dog. Snickers has a heart of gold and the patience of a saint. She is so full of life and exuberance, and literally is the epitome of the word joie de vivre. Whether it is her excitement when she sees us coming back after being gone (even if only ten minutes) or her being thrilled to go for a nice long walk in nature, when I'm feeling down, seeing how full of joy and life she is, ends up being contagious and it just can't help but make me happier. She loves to lick us and show us her love, and even knows how to "give me a kiss" as seen above.

I am so glad that Snickers is part of our family. Bringing her home was probably one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Do any of you have pets? Was it a long, well thought out decision, or something spontaneous? How has that worked for your family? Ups and downs?

3 comments:

  1. I don't have any pets now but when our children were young we had plenty. We got the 15 month old dog from the animal rescue kennels. I was pregnant with our son and had an 18 month old daughter. It was thought out and she was a darling, so good natured and gentle with the children. After she died my husband couldn't bear the emptiness and the children crying so he went to the kennels, saw a dog which looked like our first one and brought it home. It was a disaster and he had to go back for lots of reasons. We didn't get another dog but our son has had two retired greyhounds and our daughter has had 5. The last one died last month but she will get another one soon. The guinea pigs were a great success along with the cat, the rat, mice, gerbils and caterpillars. The rabbits were not so good. Your dog sounds lovely.

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  2. I love having another breathing being in my house. I tell myself each time that the resident animal dies, "no more." And then, I find my way to the animal shelter and bring home another un-appreciated critter! Current one is Raphael, a cat that was destined for euthanasia after being adopted and brought back/rejected from three other homes. He is a beautiful cat, just needed a quiet home after living in a hoarder house with 30 other cats fighting for food. It sounds that Snickers is a "one dog" critter.... as long as Snickers is "Top Dog," no problem!

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  3. we lost both of our dogs to cancer this year. They completed our family. We miss them so much. We will be moving across the country in several months. When we get a new home we will definitely be getting some new fur babies. I am so happy that Snickers has been such a blessing to you and your children!!!

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