Growing up with a furry sibling by Olya Tsikhanchuk
For all of you who don’t have pets, warning, after reading this article you might want to buy one.
My husband and I started talking about a dog ever since we defined our relationship as serious. Both him and I love animals. He grew up in the countryside and it sort of came natural. I grew up in post-soviet Belarus, in a multistories buildings neighbourhood, where many homeless dogs and cats hanged around. When a child, I hardly looked at it as an issue, rather a great opportunity to foster a fluffy friend and take care of it. Imagine, a gang of ten kids finding a cat a day and making sure it gets to eat and a cosy place to sleep. Of course, all of these homeless cats and dogs were free spirits and never stayed long with us, just came to eat occasionally. I suspect they ate from all the kids from all the blocks and were quite happy. At least I choose to believe so, forgive me my naivety.
Anyway, returning to our family getting a dog. We wanted a “real dog”, not small dogs (we do sometimes ask ourselves now “why, God, why!?), we wanted a fluffy dog, we wanted an active dog (“why, God, why to these two questions”!!!), but most importantly, we wanted a child friendly dog. So, 7 months after we had moved in with my husband, we got Lumi. A fluffy little polar bear by looks - samoyed by breed - wild wolf by soul. And here is the reality check — a puppy is A LOT of work! Just so you know… I did not sleep taking care of her at night, before she leant to hold her and not to relief herself in the house. During the day she was always demanding attention. She wanted out non stop, she was barking, she was playful, she was a child! And I did think I am losing it (oh little did I know back then, that was before we got a real human baby). But it was all constantly improving. After 4 months nights got better, we all just cuddled in our bed. Yes, I know, we are not the best and the most disciplined dog owners. We were too weak, when lump looked at us with her puppy eyes and was like “woof woof, I am cold, hug me and let me sleep on your pillow” we were like “ok!”.
Almost two years later, we got Alfred, a lovely little human baby of ours. We brought him home and I was terrified. How will it go now? How will lump behave? I mean being new parents you are lost, you are not sure of anything, you are just in the “unknown” zone. First two weeks I cried every day. Lumi was crazy. She wanted to sniff the baby and I was afraid she can squeeze him, cause she was a 25 kg dog that is almost as long as me on her back paws (I am 170cm). Lumi had been our first baby so she was jealous, and was showing it by being demanding. My husband was out with her constantly. And I was writing to our breeder if there is any way she could help us with advice. She took it bad and was suggesting foster families, but we did not want to get rid of a family member. We wanted to have that picture perfect family, where the dog and the kid are best friends, so I was not ready to give up… or was I? Days passed, weeks, Lumi got her mens, which explained a lot her behaviour. It was not only a new family member in the house, she was just a hormonal female, probably reacting to my hormones too.
And now it is where the story gets happy! Alfred is 2 years and 4 months today, and Lumi turned 4 in mid January. I officially have relaxed and trust the dog! She is the kindest with him. They play together chasing games, he wakes up and always asks about her, when I pick him up from day care with Lumi, he is super happy to see her, he eats and she is always beside him licking his hands and picking up all he drops on the floor (we literally have a “clean” floor after we have eaten). Now, many of you will ask questions about hygiene and all that… I am not an expert, I just think that just like my parents paediatrician allowed me to play with homeless dogs (HOW!!!) I know I can let my child grow up with a dog that he calls sister. I do think our immune systems are better if we dare to be exposed to germs. Those of you who would want to argue - just check how many bacteria and stuff your smartphones and iPads have on, you still give it to you child, right?
Now, I do want to share with you some benefits and not so benefits of having a dog. Hopefully, this will help you in your decision to get a pet and which one.
- a lot if love: our dog is the best hugger
- peace in the family: if we start to fight, Lumi is always in the middle and literally puts her paws on my husband´s mouth!
- a lot of activity outside: that keeps us healthy
- a lot of laughs: dogs can make you laugh for real
- kids love dogs: whether it is to play or to cuddle with, or to look at when we pass by. Many kids stop and debate of lump is a dog or a polar bear. We always support the polar bear version.
Not so benefits:
- puppy is like a baby
- you need to find a babysitter if you leave for a day or for a vacation
- say good bye to your tree floor (some people say good bye to shoes too, we never did)
- be ready to walk your dog in any weather (cats and fish are better options if you are afraid of cold and rain)
- pets can get sick and it breaks your heart
- Hair everywhere!!! (if you have a hairy dog. Not always, but in the period when they shed)
Points to consider when you choose a dog:
- make sure you read a lot about the breed!!!
- talk to your partner a lot about it and you both agree it is pet for both and the responsibly if on both shoulders
- count in economical aspects. Pets cost, their food, toys, insurance.
- read books and talk to people who have pets how to take care of them, teach them discipline, and what are the pros and cons
- find a good vet in the area
- think about children and how it will work out if you have kids or are planning on getting them one day
Good luck making the right decision!