How My Dogs Prepared Me For Motherhood

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These are my Velociraptors, as my mother so thoughtfully nicknamed them.

 My husband and I hadn’t been married a year when we adopted Casey,  my now 4 year old Blue Heeler. I fell in love with her the first time I saw her at the animal hospital where I worked. She had been bought for an older lady by her daughters who thought their mother needed a companion. If you know anything about Blue Heelers, this is not the dog for just anyone! (This speaks a lot to breed research before you adopt, but that’s an entirely different subject.) A few weeks after her first appointment, she was brought in to be surrendered by this dear lady. As luck would have it, I was the one who helped her that day. The rest is history.

As for Shelby, well…she was a necessary addition to our family. As I said, Blue Heelers are a special breed and poor Casey was driving us nuts being an only child. So, we went on a hunt and found a little black and tan shepherd mix on PetFinder.com at a local animal shelter. Funny thing was, when we made the 1 1/2 hour trip, we were actually planning on adopting Shelby’s sister. We brought Casey along to make sure they got along. Unfortunately, Casey and Shelby’s evil twin did not get along. Shelby, however, sat quietly on my lap and watched her sister run laps around the front desk of the shelter. It was meant to be.

Anyone who has met my dogs knows how nuts they are. They’re misbehaved, too hyper and when talked to in a high enough pitch, will pee all over your shoes. They escape from the yard, they chase the mailman and eat the strangest things. But they are like my children and I love them. I’ve always told my mom that my dogs were preparing me for having children. However, until I had a child, I didn’t realize how right I was.

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For the last several months, I had become acclimated to rocking my little baby to sleep, ensuring plenty of tummy-time to strengthen his muscles and rejoicing when he discovered he could roll over. We had waiting for a long time to see him crawl for the first time and tried to help as much as we could. Unfortunately, I was unaware of what these milestones were leading us to. My epiphany came as I walked into the bathroom this afternoon, following the trail of Puffs and spilled sippy cup, and discovered my son standing up at the toilet…PLAYING IN THE WATER! I immediately thought of my  dogs. I had scolded them numerous times about drinking from the toilet. “Get your head out of the toilet!” had now turned into “Get your hand out of the toilet!” Same problem, different species. I then began thinking of all the ways my dogs had been conditioning me for motherhood.

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1) Sleep Deprivation. I was a first time doggy mom and had never raised a puppy on my own. (I didn’t quite realize how much my parents had been helping me.) Casey was less than 3 months old when I brought her home. The first few weeks were filled with sleepless nights and midnight walks that eventually led to her sleeping in our bed. Sounds familiar, huh? Yep. Honestly, I think I had better sleep with my newborn than a new puppy. And no matter how bad it got, my son has never slept in the bed with us.

2) Cleaning up. Dogs are naturally messy. I’ve cleaned up more dog pee, poop and vomit than I care to admit. I’ve disposed of dead squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits after they met their unfortunate end in my back yard. I’ve scrubbed butts, brushed squirrel-breath teeth and spent hours picking burrs out of the fur of a dog who insists on exploring. NONE of that, however, could have prepared me for baby messes. Humans are supposed to be cleaner than dogs, right? Well…apparently, not in the beginning. Our first week home with little man, he peed on my Grandmother, my bed, the dog and his own head. Not to mention the spit up (thanks to our few weeks of supplementing formula). And there have  been a few times (explosion, rather) that required an immediate bath (clothes and all) and then a GOOD bleach-scrubbing to the bathtub.

3) Discipline. Two things that apparently fascinate both boy and dog are dishwashers and toilets. The first spanking my son got was because he continued crawling onto the dishwasher and pulling things from the utensil holder. My dogs also are constantly in trouble for trying to clean my dishes as I put them in the dishwasher. Same thing for the toilet. I guess to both hem, water is water. You would think I’d have learned how to prevent this behaving by now…

4) Food. Sadly, my dogs have failed me in this department. From squirrels to insulation, my dogs never meet an object they don’t at least consider trying. Whereas my son is a challenging eater. I’ve already blogged about our disastrous nursing experience but his food aversions don’t stop there. He refuses to drink formula unless it’s warm (almost hot). If it gets the least bit cool, he won’t touch it. He does not like slimy things (i.e. sliced apples in juice, packaged deli meat) or oddly enough, potatoes (mashed or baked). He has discovered how to make his food disappear when he doesn’t want it. And I wondered why the dogs were getting fat!

5) Picking Up After Myself. I have had dogs all my life and one thing you learn quickly is to never leave something valuable in a dog’s reach. One of my dogs loves to eat socks, another underwear. Trash is always up for grabs if available and unless there is a force field around me, there is no personal space when I’m eating. As my son has now become mobile, I find myself finding more things everyday that need to be moved out of his reach. Remotes and phones are his favorite but if there is a cord in sight, he is all over it. Another difficulty is his fascination with the dog bowls. Now, my dogs are pretty good about their food. Shelby has actually let him get food out of her bowl while she is eating without complaint. This leads to chewing on the dog bowls (gross, I know!) and what had become an almost weekly occurrence…dumping the water bowl. Still learning here!

6) Mommy guilt. That’s right. I feel so horrible when my dogs get in trouble, which is probably part of the reason they are such a mess. This has, however, taught me to be consistent with punishment. But there is no greater guilt than punishing your child for doing something dangerous and making him cry. I now understand the phrase “This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.”

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As my son grows and I continue to learn how this mommy thing works, I’m sure I will find more lessons I’ve been taught by my dogs to handle my son. And when I have another, I will know how to handle sibling quarreling. You can break up a fight with the broom, right? Unfortunately, I do realize I will not be able to make them sleep outside!

“Do you hear what I hear?” – the little lamb

Operation Christmas Sheep

Our story begins on Christmas morning. We are up early and packing the car to head to my parents house for Christmas breakfast. The dogs love going to see Uncle Scottie and Aunties Sydney Sophie (my parents dogs), although they are not as enthusiastic about our visits. As we make the turn up the hill, in the distance, a herd of sheep stands grazing in the field. Casey is, of course, an Australian Cattle Dog and anything that looks like it can be herded excites her. She presses her nose against the glass of the car window and begins whining as we pass the field. Shelby leans again the backseat, unconcerned by the passing livestock. Honestly, she is rather unconcerned with most things in life.

The excitement begins as we open the door and the household is filled with clicking doggie feet and barking from a fairly annoyed Sydney. She is in charge of this household and quite bothered by the hellions who interrupted her mid-morning nap. Finally things calm down. Presents can be unwrapped and breakfast can be served.

This is where we should have picked up on the conversation going on amongst our dogs. Now, you may thinks dogs are just dogs and have no ability to plot or plan. If only this were true. These pictures depict the beginning of the end to our blissful family Christmas.

Shelby: Casey, do you see what I see?

Casey: Nope

Shelby: Those look like fun!

Casey: Oooo…I see!! I see!!

Shelby: Think we can take ’em?

Casey: Oh, yeah!

Travis: Whatcha see, Shelby?

Shelby: You see them too! Good, that makes things easier.

Casey: Yeah, dad. I think we need to pee now. Can we go outside?

Shelby: Ok. Operation Christmas Sheep is a go! Be cool…be cool. And remember, you distract them and I’ll do the rest.

Casey: That’s right. More pictures! I’m so go at this distraction thing…and I look soooo GOOD!

Moments later. The yard was filled with yells and screams…followed by falling and flailing. She escaped the yard and headed straight for the fence line. By this time, I was out the door and running towards the woods. I caught sight of her just as she had positioned herself in the trees, stalking her prey. What happened next can only be described as pure madness. One holler from momma and she knew she had been caught. Time to attack! And they were off. From the dog who sleeps 20 hours a day and never shows much interest in anything or anyone, I have never seen such excitement! This was definitely what she had asked for for Christmas! She chased the puffs of fluff round and round the field. Into the fold and back out. Around the tree. Down the hill. By the time everything was over, we were all covered in mud and manure and Shelby had pieces of sheep fur sticking out of her mouth. She had succeeded in excercising the sheep and making mommy and daddy look like complete idiots!

Mission Accomplish!

And what have we learned…

NEVER TRUST THE QUIET ONE!

Doggie Review: The Kong

Everyone that owns a dog knows how important it is to find a toy your dog loves and one that is made well. Now, many owners can buy their dog a toy that will last for years and be their lifetime friend. However, there are others who struggle just to keep the stuffing out of the floor from the last birthday present. This is one reason my dogs got the nickname “the Velociraptors”. From the very beginning, we spent a fortune trying to find a toy that would last more than a week in our house. Then we discovered something amazing…THE KONG!!! (dramatic music)

This is the classic Kong. We purchased ours when Casey was about 4 months old and eating everything in sight. They are labeled as “indestructible”  toys and for “heavy duty” chewers. And I am here to tell you, they are not lying! We have had the same Kong for almost 2 years now. It has been through two puppies, tug-o-war fights and believe it or not, has survived numerous tussles with the lawn mower and has come out unscathed. The great thing about these is that they are not only bouncy and flexible, but you can put stuff in them! There is an opening in the bottom of the toy for treats or, better yet, peanut butter. This will keep your pup busy for hours.

This little guy has truly been a favorite for my dogs. We got one to start out with and had to go back and get another because they loved it so much. Stuffed animals have always been a favorite for the velociraptors – they even stole Santa Claus off the table last year at Christmas. But unfortunately, our stuffed animal friends tend to have a short lifespan once they get to our house. But these Cozies really impressed me. We have had them for two months and just the other day, they ripped one a little. It’s actually a little frustrating for them because they sit and try to tear it apart with no luck.

So, go support your nearest pet store or animal clinic and purchase a Kong. Velociraptor Approved.

Meet the Velociraptors

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am.” – Author Unknown

Meet Casey and Shelby, my “practice children.”

Casey just turned 2 years old and feels as if she is in charge of the house and her sister, as well as my husband and I. Staying true to her Australian Cattle Dog personality, she is strong-willed and stubborn, but the most loyal friend you will ever find. I have never seen a dog act as much like a person as she does. To tell you the truth, I don’t think she really knows she’s a dog.

On the other hand, Shelby, our Heinz 57 pup, seems to always be in the background, planning her escape. I wouldn’t call her an evil genius…

I will keep you updated on their adventures and mishaps as they are discovered. Just take a look at what they have gotten themselves so far…