Growing up, we always had a pet dog. Sometimes we even had two. My childhood memories are laced with those sweet puppies. I always had a companion when playing outside, and there was always a happy face to greet me when I got home. No matter how my day had been or what kind of mood I was in, those dogs loved me regardless. To say I’m a dog person would be an understatement.
There is nothing sweeter than a child and a dog.
I wanted my children to experience the same love and joy I did with my dogs growing up, so I badgered my husband to death until he finally caved. He’s a dog person too, so thankfully he came around to the idea of a pet pretty quickly. We picked out our sweet pup a few years ago, and while it hasn’t always been easy, we never looked back. Our dog, Bear, is a member of our family. We love him so much that we ended up getting another puppy for Christmas to round out our family. We named her Birdie. Oftentimes our boys put them ahead of my husband and me in level of importance. I know many people are on the fence when it comes to owning a four-legged friend, but I definitely think you should take getting a dog into serious consideration when you have children.
Dogs provide a friendship like no other.
I’ve never met a dog who isn’t THRILLED to see their people every single time they walk through the door…even if you just walked out of it five minutes ago. They are so loyal and make the best companions. Our dogs gravitate to my boys. They want to do whatever they are doing. If they’re playing outside, they’re the first ones out the door. If they’re watching a movie in the playroom, they are piled up on the couch with them. When I go and check on the boys before I go to bed, Bear faithfully bounds up the stairs with me and nudges each one in bed. Those sweet dogs love my boys fiercely, and they love them right back.
Dogs teach your children responsibility. Every one of my boys has a job to do with the dogs, even my four-year-old. Since they both are “technically” their dogs, they are the ones who take care of them. Feeding them, playing with them, filling up water bowls, putting collars on every day…they’re responsible for it. Even though they’re just given small tasks when it comes to Bear and Birdie, they take their jobs seriously. This shows them how important it is to take care of whatever they own. It also teaches them that when they want to be lazy, they still have a job to do — their needs are like a human and they wait for no one.
Dogs teach your children to show kindness and compassion. Dogs teach them how to be caring and protective. If you get a dog as a puppy, it also teaches children how to be gentle. I can’t tell you what a wonderful lesson that has been for my boys. Kids in general, but boys especially, are very rough. When Bear was a puppy, and while Birdie is still a puppy, they have to show a lot of restraint and self-control. If they get too wild, puppies let them know it. That was a tough lesson to learn for everyone. Now my boys treat them like a human. If they get hurt, they are beside themselves. If they think my husband is playing too rough with them, they let him have it. They are so protective of them, and you better believe the dogs, Bear especially, feel the same way about them. If one of them is sick, he never leaves their side. If they are playing out of my line of sight, Bear is the first to let me know if something is wrong. He’s their ultimate protector, and I know Birdie will follow suit as she gets older. It really is a beautiful thing to see.
And finally, dogs teach your children unconditional love. No matter what my boys do, Bear and Birdie love them regardless. If they are mean and grumpy and refuse to pet them, they lay at their feet anyways. If they ignore them, those sweet dogs follow them around until they give in. If they’re having a bad day, Bear is the first one to console them. If they are quick to yell at them in frustration, they forgive the boys immediately. In turn, the boys love both of them unconditionally. In his time in our house, Bear has chewed up several of their toys, stolen food off their plates, ripped the stuffing out of stuffed animals, and eaten more than one dirty diaper. I know Birdie will be the same way. Even though they get mad and frustrated with him, it doesn’t last long. They see how quickly he forgives them, so they do it in turn. He’s taught them to never give up on someone (or something). I know many adults who could use a dog to teach them the same thing.