For almost two years I'd resisted a further addition to our family. As some of you may know, I've decided that I'm quite content with three children. However, it wasn't a fourth child I was resisting. It was a dog.
My youngest child, Maya, suffers from asthma and I was worried about the effect of a dog on her condition. So I often argued that although I'd love a dog, we couldn't possibly get one and take the risk of aggravating Maya's condition.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago and welcome into our already busy lives an adorable 9-week-old Pomoodle named Milo. I lost the 'asthma' argument when it turned out that there were certain breeds that were generally safe for asthmatics, Pomoodles being one of them.
The kids are understandably smitten. What I wasn't counting on is that I also would fall in love with the little black bundle of fur. Which is just as well, because puppies are a lot of work and you've really got to love them to get through the first few weeks.
I'm not sure why I finally caved in to the kids' obsessions with having a puppy. Perhaps it was the thought that they were now old enough to look after a puppy and would obtain a number of benefits from having a pet. Apart from the well documented health benefits (reduced stress and lower blood pressure), owning a dog is a pretty good way of teaching children to become considerate and responsible beings. Factor in hours of fun of playing with a very active puppy and you have a formula for happiness. Well, for the kids that is.
Apart from the well documented health benefits, owning a dog is a pretty good way of teaching children to become considerate and responsible beings.
While I was counting on the kids falling in love with Milo and spending heaps of time lavishing their attention on him, I wasn't prepared for the chore of house-training a puppy. Apart from teaching Milo that shoes aren't toys, that Barbie dolls are out of bounds and that dry cement is not a food product, there's the still on-going task of toilet training him.
I thought my toilet training days were over when my youngest, Maya, was toilet trained over 18 months ago. I remember thinking gleefully that I never had to worry about cleaning somebody's poo or having to worry about accidents around the home. It appears that was not to be. For the past couple of weeks I have cleaned up more puppy pooh than I'd like to count, wiped countless 'accidents' and repeatedly disinfected our home. While Milo is improving - he now manages 'to go' on his toilet training mat 75% of the time, his still prefers to relieve himself in my room and most often it's under my bed, in a hard to reach place that has me bumping my head and cursing the moment I agreed to get a puppy (although that only lasts for a moment or two). I thought toilet training a child was hard enough work. Trust me, it's even worse with a puppy!
But apart from house training Milo, I have to admit that agreeing to get a puppy was one of the best things I've ever done. Not only has he brought much joy in to the children's lives, he has also become my companion often falling asleep in my home-office during the day, sleeping in my room during the night and bringing me many smiles with his playful and cheeky nature.
And the good news is that three weeks on, Maya has not had a reaction to Milo's fur and enjoys many hours cuddling up to her 'baby'.
Do you think dogs and kids are a good combination? Do you have a dog or other pet and how has that benefited your children? What is your favourite memory of your child(ren) and pet(s)? I'd love to hear your stories.
Also, if anyone has any tips for toilet training a puppy, please let me know! I could do with all the assistance at the moment! Comment on Ghania's blog here.