Friday, March 7, 2014

Pets are God's way of making sure you can take care of a kid

I have seen it many times.
A young couple gets married, start a new life together but soon have a funny feeling something is missing.
Perhaps a new car will scratch the itch that is nagging in the back of their brain. Maybe a new house, or a move to a different city.
But that odd feeling persists. What they don't know yet is, it is their parental instinct kicking into gear.
They may not even realize it, but it is there – gnawing away at them night and day.
The need to care for some sort of living creature grows and grows.
They do not know it is the swirling waters of parenthood that beckons them to dive in, but they have to do something so they get a pet.
A cat or a dog are the most popular choices.
My wife and I did the same thing. A couple years after we wed, we ended up with two dogs to take care of.
And at the time, we thought the workload of looking after dogs was horrendous. (Yeesh, it is amazing how big of a wimp I was back then.)
Up until that point, we only had to look after ourselves. When we wanted to do something we did it. When we wanted to go out, we went and when we wanted to sleep, we slept.
But now we had these two little black, furry critters to take care of and we had to worry about when they were hungry, or wanted to go out, and good luck if we wanted to sleep and they didn't.
For the first little while, I will admit, it was rather daunting to have two more life forms to take care of. 
But, as time passed, we got into a groove and the loveable mutts were fully integrated into our lives and taking care of them became part of our routine.
We managed to raise them into adult dogs without any serious harm or injury coming to man or beast.
At the time, we did not know we were setting ourselves up for the impending arrival of children.
You get married, start with a house plant (which we forgot to water and it died, oops) then you get an animal (which thrived under our care) and that opens the door for a squeaky little human to make the scene.
It is kind of like a test: if the dogs survive you are ready to move on to bigger things,
So a few years after getting the hounds, Junior was born and suddenly the dogs were just dogs. Until the bundle of joy arrived, the dogs were our kids, but they immediately found themselves relegated to non-human status.
They were still loved members of the family, but our perspective had changed and they simply became dogs.
We quickly learned taking care of dogs was way easier than taking care of a baby. First of all, you can't just put the baby in the backyard and close the door when you want a little break from them.
House training a dog takes a few weeks, potty training a child usually does not even begin for more than a year. And if they doo-doo on the floor, you cannot rub their nose in it.
But like when the dogs invaded our home, it didn't take long for us to make Junior part of the daily routine of life, and after a while we forgot what life was like without him.
In fact, we did it two more times and each time went through an adjustment period as we integrated the latest family member into our lives.
It is a tried and true pattern. Many of our friends started out with a dog, then progressed to children, so when I see a young couple walking a puppy past my house I know what is in store for them, even of they don't.

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