It happens to most of us before crossing the finish line of motherhood. And it usually occurs at the most inconvenient of times. Like right when you’re out of the potty-training years. Or you just bought the white chase lounge of your dreams.
“Mom, we can we get a puppy?” Seems like an innocent enough question…like a nostalgic rite of passage parents everywhere have faced before the kids leave the house. But this is a game-changing decision. Even bigger than deciding whether to sacrifice part of our souls by purchasing a minivan or paying more for a third seat SUV. So, for those wavering somewhere between “heck no, and maybe”… here’s what ya need to know.
Quick disclaimer: This is not one of those fear mongering scary tales veteran moms dump on pregnant friends. “Get your dates nights in while you can!” “Kiss those perky tatas goodbye!” Please. Find a squirrel to scare.
However, as a mom who’s succumbed to puppy-ownership twice now- with one recent success and one utter dumpster fire of a failure, I feel compelled to serve up my best description of the reality you’ll likely face when emotionally bullied by small children to add another being to the lifeboat you’re perpetually keeping afloat.
First, if you have kids like 4ish and under. Don’t do it. I don’t care if your babies cry daily about the puppy shaped hole in your home. Hold. The line. In no state of reality should we welcome a creature who’ll shamelessly dead eye you while peeing right in your favorite sneaks, especially while you’re still wiping the butts of others. It’s just too much.
I made this unfortunate lack of judgement when adopting a puppy when my boys were two, three, and 10. Straight outta Petco’s mobile rescue shelter, “Buddy” was half Australian shepherd and half Satan. And after four months of scrubbing endless poo stains and trying not to commit pet murder when barking through nap time, I sold him on Craigslist. Not my shiniest mommy moment, but it was sheer survival back then.
For friends with kids at least old enough to hold a pencil, here’s what you need to hear:
All your doubts and fears about getting a dog are not apprehension, they’re words of prophecy. All those visions of being the sole member of your household awaking at dawn take the dog out (and every hour after that), and scavenger hunting Easter eggs of poo around your house will continue for a minimum of six months. I write this knowing I’ll for sure get an email or two from a kid-less hipster claiming her “fur baby” was trained in four weeks. Perhaps there’s a unicorn of a collie out there obediently prancing to the pee pad like a show horse at four months old. However, for the rest of us not able to watch 212 YouTube videos on dog care or pay for formal training…it’s gonna be a long, pee-stained road.
And what’s even worse than the hard work and exhaustion is the shameless-and I’m talkin’ Judas betraying Jesus in the garden level of shameless-abandonment from the children who practically swore blood oaths that they’d take full responsibility for their furry sibling. These are just a few actual quotes from my children perjuring themselves before purchasing our Siberian Husky, Luna:
College age son who’s literally never home:
“I’ll have my friends over here more, so I can take it out at night.
…Total amount of nightly take-outs in 21 months and counting:. zero.
“I promise even in the middle of a match (X Box) I’ll pause it when she has to go out.”
…Every verbal response when asked to take the dog out: “IN A MINUTE I’M IN A CAMPAIGN MOM!”
“If the dog cries in her crate at night she can sleep with me. I’ll even start sleeping on the bottom bunk.”
…The dog has slept in fetal position, between my husband and I since day number one. And my husband doesn’t believe in pet co-sleeping.
Now, I might just have the laziest, most manipulative bunch of offspring in the world, but after seeing lots of friends traverse the dubious path of puppyhood, I’d say mamas are the usually the ones who shoulder the load.
However. Shockingly. I will say… it’s all worth it. Despite all the bitterness accumulated taking the dog out on freezing winter nights and refereeing sibling fights over who’s turn it is to walk the baby, there’s just something magical about having a dog in the house. Despite all the blood, sweat, and occasional judgement by neighbors returning your AWOL dog, this baby has united our family like nothing else. Teenage hormones may be a’flowin’ like Niagra, but when Luna’s around, there’s always a source of joy and laughter.
And I will admit, I have come to love this derned dog. I cannot believe how much I care about a 50-pound mammal who tries to eat her own poop. You’d think she too, was spawned from my uterus, as I find myself often sending captioned pictures to my husband at work, introducing her to clients on Zoom calls and saying thigs like “mommy will be right back!” when leaving the house for an errand. And perhaps even creating her own Insta profile. It was Covid, people.
So, the verdict Get the puppy, but just know it’ll be solely yours. I mean, like everything and everyone else under our roof, right? But you can leave this one alone during date nights and there’s always free hugs and no eye rolls. Who saved who? Yeah, not goin’ that far….but Mommy loves you, Luna. xo