Are you considering adopting a dog? Are your children begging for a dog? Adding a dog into your family is a big decision, definitely not an easy decision, but it can be one of the best decisions for your family.
Let me introduce you to Bodhi, our nine year-old golden retriever.
I consider him my firstborn, and he is the only reason I even knew that I had the capacity to become a mom one day.
I was never a dog person growing up, considered myself pretty selfish with my time, and never considered getting a pet. However, an opportunity to foster a dog for a family with a special-needs son opened my eyes and heart to the joy of a dog. We fostered Buster, a young and highly trained golden retriever, for six weeks, and my world was changed. I loved Buster and knew that I wanted my own dog the second he left us to live with his family. We found GRREP, the Golden Retriever Rescue of El Paso, and quickly decided on Alvin, a curly-haired, one year-old golden. We renamed him Bodhi in honor of the great Patrick Swayze character in Point Break, and he became my best friend. My husband was in medical school at the time, and Bodhi was my partner in everything and helped me feel safe with my husband’s long hours away studying and then working in residency.
As we decided to grow our family and became pregnant, I was genuinely worried about Bodhi’s reaction to a baby in the house. The transition went well, but I made the decision to not let Bodhi’s life change with the addition of a baby into our household– he still got walked twice a day, plenty of couch cuddles, and was an active member of our family. I will admit that he is not a cuddly dog with children and slightly ambivalent but he is patient and gentle with them. He tolerates the crazy in our house with two young boys and allows them to love on him.
I cannot imagine our lives without Bodhi, and adopting him was truly one of the best decisions we’ve made for our family.
So are you convinced that your family needs a dog too? There are several factors to consider before adding a dog to your family.
- Consider the breed and age of dog to match your family and lifestyle. Our golden retriever requires two walks a day and enjoys an active lifestyle hiking and running at the beach and parks. Our dog is also very large with a loud bark, which I like with my husband’s odd work hours. He is gentle and pretty chill most days, which I also appreciate since my two sons bring plenty of crazy to the table. Do you want a large or small dog? Do you have a yard to help a large dog burn off energy? Also you should discuss the energy level and age of your desired pet. With an older dog, you skip the hard work of the puppy stage, which I definitely wanted to avoid. Bodhi was only one year-old when we adopted him and already house-trained. I do not know how to train a dog so a puppy was not an option for me. You would be surprised by how many shelter and rescue dogs are house-trained or have some training completed, which can make the transition into your home easier.
- Consider adopting. There are so many amazing pets waiting in shelters or foster families that need forever families. I am so thankful for our rescue organization and the opportunity to provide Bodhi with a family after losing his elderly owner. You can even find rescue organizations for specific breeds if you are particular about the breed you would like for your family. You can search most shelters online by age and breed to help narrow down options. If you’re not sure about adoption, you could always try fostering a dog as well. Fostering made a huge difference in my decision process.
- Be ready to commit yourself to your dog. Much like a child, taking care of a dog requires dedication and selflessness. I have dealt with just as much poop and vomit as a dog mom as I have as a mom to our boys. I walk him twice a day no matter what. With a newborn, when I’m sick, it’s raining outside, or just a super busy day, he still gets walked. I am attentive to his physical well-being and notice if he has a fatty lump appear or if his arthritis is affecting his abilities. He is included in as many of our family adventures as possible. He has hiked the mountains of New Mexico, swam in the waves of Florida, and joined nearly all of our family road trips. He is not just a dog, he is our family. You should also encourage your children to join in the care of your dog. They can help feed, bath, walk, and throw the ball with your dog.