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How a dog’s role changes over the years

Updated on April 15, 2014

He moved to the middle

Oh how things change. I was no longer amused by his shedding, wanting to go outside every 15 minutes, or most of all, barking when someone had the nerve to walk by our home. It was a nice and almost flattering thing before it was waking up a baby! How cute we thought it was that he loved us so much he wanted to protect us from the mother pushing the baby stroller, or the man delivering a package. We must have made him a happy life to want to protect us so much. No, it did not take long for that feeling to change.

My husband was so impressed with me how on my first maternity leave, within a week nonetheless, I was able to get the dog to sit and be quiet just by the snap and motion of my finger. I have to admit I was impressed with myself, and shocked with his quick training. So, life goes on and you may forget until the last minute that you need to board the dog when you go on your weekend trip to visit family, or have to set a reminder to brush him again. Don’t get me wrong, the dog still gets to sleep in our bedroom, and lives better than us, it has just changed. It was about to change even more, as we were expecting baby number two.

He started on top

Recently, I have been thinking about how our dog’s life has changed in the last 5 years. My husband recently took him to the vet for a dental cleaning, and I felt so sorry for him having to be asleep during the procedure. These were feelings I have not felt in a long time since I have a four year old and 15 month old. These two boys take a lot of my time as a working mother and wife. They also have changed how I view our dog on a daily basis.

We first got our little 13-pound, all black puppy from the local humane society in November of 2008. This was one month after we were married. He was so cute and helpless, and did I mention he didn’t shed? He was like our little baby. He had most of his shots, and was very healthy, so we did not go to the vet until a few months later when he needed the rest of a shot he was originally too small for. It was then, the doctor told us it takes about 6 months for a puppy to start shedding. We were lucky though, right? Our precious little puppy wouldn’t start shedding. How wrong we were, but he was our baby so we didn’t mind always brushing him and cleaning up the hair he left behind. That was until we had our first-born one year later.

We still love Baxter

"Mommy, why are you taking my picture? You don't usually take my picture.  I am not so sure I like this."
"Mommy, why are you taking my picture? You don't usually take my picture. I am not so sure I like this."

He ended at the bottom

After a couple years, we found ourselves expecting our second boy. We had updated our carpet to hardwood due to puppy training and baby spit up. I was nesting, and getting our home ready for another new addition. We were again baby proofing our home, and yes, the poor dog found himself slip one more link down on the food chain. He did again accept our baby into his “wolf pack” and I am sure in his mind wondered if he needed to train yet another one of these things how it works in this home.

Our dog was now 40 pounds, and has a very fluffy tail. Of course his constant tail waging only encourages a wee one to “play” with it. All the while, our sweet six-year-old dog lets the baby pull himself up using his strong coat for assistance. He knows that he has to be on high alert, even when resting on the floor. He can go from snoring to up on his feet faster than my toddler can get his tail in his mouth! He doesn’t even seem to mind to have gone from our baby, who received gifts like all the other grandchildren, to an afterthought who has to get thrown a bone here and there.

The point is, after he has slipped down a link or two, he still remains as faithful and loving as the first day he came home. He lies by me if I am sick. Listens to every noise outside to make sure it does not pose a threat, and then follows up with a growl, or bark if it does. He licks the snot off my son’s nose, faster than we can get a tissue (this is so nasty, please tell me I am not alone on this!) Most of all, our precious, shedding, barking, sometimes in the way dog, loves us and runs to meet us at the door every time. So, yes, we do throw him a bone every now and then!

Ways to make sure your pet feel loved

  1. Make sure if you have children they know the acceptable ways to play with your pet. For example, we do not allow any abuse from our children to our dog. If there is any they are quickly corrected. This ensures the dog will be respected and the children will not be injured from the dog defending himself.
  2. Don't forget him on holidays. We are still working on this one, but try to wrap a little gift for them. Make sure if it is a holiday where the gifts are set out you don't set his out until the last minute or you may find it unwrapped quickly!
  3. Take a few minutes each day to pet, groom, or just talk to your pet. As I have been working from home I find myself talking to our dog and I honestly can feel our bond has grown.

Evaluate your pet's role

How much has your pet's role changed over the years?

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