We recently (and impulsively) added a new member to our family in the form of a new pup named Honey.
I grew up with dogs. I still think of and miss my first dog, a miniature schnauzer named Roscoe, and all of the adventures he put us through as a family. Throughout my childhood we had a total of 5 dogs. Abby, the first, was given to the next door neighbor when my mom found it impossible to potty train both a toddler and puppy at the same time. The a-ha moment came when a 2 1/2 year old me walked into the living room with a stack of newspapers, carefully laid them out, and proclaimed “good girl” as I took care of business. Casey, our second dog, a high strung airedale terrier had to go to the mystical “farm” after a vicious run-in with our new neighbor’s cat. After getting some pictures framed one day, my mom came home with Max, a diminutive and adorable ball of black fluff that was a puppy in the frame-shop owner’s litter. It was a “puli” she said, at which point we went to the encyclopedia to look up the breed— and gasped. Look it up and you will see why.
As a new mother, I was suddenly transformed from a dog-lover into seeing pets as foul delivery systems of germs and filth. The idea of bringing a dog into the overly sanitized home we shared with our pure and perfect newborn seemed inconceivable.
My children began asking for a dog as preschoolers. My husband and I knew we would have to reluctantly get a puppy in the distant future. My husband, who grew up pet-less in New York City, did not see nor understand any need to add a dog into our life. When we finally did do it, we said, like many parents do, that it would be when our kids were at an age when they could share the responsibility. This, however, was also the agreement my brother and I had with our parents, and our mom ended up taking on the entire burden—something I was determined not repeat as a working mom already at 110% capacity.
We met Honey in April when the kids and I wandered into the pet store on the first day of spring break. This little chihuaha/poodle rescue pup of 4 months snuggled right into the kids’ arms and wouldn’t leave. I wondered if this might be the time. With our children at the ages of 7 and 10 we had reached a stage where we had some familial normalcy and they could take on some of the responsibilty.
My husband was traveling at the time but I managed to text him during a layover, whereby he responded with a resigned “it’s your call”.
Honey became ours.
I know we lucked out with this dog, who is a good-natured and calm little pup who was easy to house train, and doesn’t require much beyond abundant cuddles and attention. Since bringing her home and seeing the love between her and the kids, I was once again reminded of how much having a dog enhances the experience of childhood.
Coming home to a dog’s unconditional love can instantly make a tough day at school disappear. There’s research showing that kids with family pets have higher self-esteem. Probably because this little creature simply loves them right back, and is there to talk to and play with—free of any judgment or condition. My 7 year old son even reads to Honey when he goes to bed at night. She sits there just listening and resting. Additionally, it’s believed that brushing, patting, or stroking a furry creature can lower stress levels in children.
My sister-in-law who is a dog-owning neonatal nurse also reminded me of one of the least known benefits that pets provide in terms of immunity. Experts say that children who grow up with pets are less likely to develop common allergies and a 2012 study determined that children who lived with dogs were generally healthier and developed fewer respiratory problems or ear infections.
So yes - we are now a family of 5. The kids love little Honey beyond what I thought was possible, and so do I.
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