Recently, we brought home a new sister, Lucy. Mom and Dad had talked about adding to our family for over a year and by chance, a gorgeous ruby-red cavalier rescue from the Cavalier Rescue Foundation was brought to our attention. Lucy came home, and it didn’t take long for us all to settle in happily with the new arrangement. Lucy is game for all our activities from walkies, tug of war, fetch to swimming. Other than learning the ropes on potty training, she’s been an easy to fit into our family.
This is not always the case for others bringing in a new furry friend – especially if it’s the very first. Reminds us of a recent experience of a human friend of ours, a single mother, call her Pam, of two tween girls living in the Big Apple. Pam is a very busy executive with a demanding job who, despite having grown up with pets, did not think having a dog was a good idea for her family. She told her children what the demands of having a dog in their home would be, but they were not dissuaded. Pam soon found herself bringing home a shelter dog to their apartment.
The dog was perfect – sweet, kind, loving, didn’t even bark. Yet, it only took three days for the dog to be delivered back to the shelter. The children were exhausted from walking the dog and didn’t know how they were supposed to balance homework, school and their lives to take care of this lovely creature.
Sadly, this is a too common tale – or should we say tail? Ha! But, here’s some advice for parents to test drive the concept of having a dog if the children are asking for one and they are old enough to help with the chores.
1. Responsibility-check. Determine whether your kid(s) can take on the responsibility of having a new family member. Have them take on regular dog walking jobs in your neighborhood or apartment building. Can they stick to a schedule, rain or shine? This requires at least a month of regular dog walking. If they can’t stick it out or don’t like it, you have your answer. Don’t bring home the dog unless you can take care of it without their help – and you are OK with getting little to no help.
2. Dog sit as a family. Start out with weekend dog sitting (for a friend who needs a break, for instance) and then if this goes well, try dog sitting during the working week. How have your children managed with all their other activities? Did you end up doing all the work? If so, if you still get a dog, it will be your responsibility going forward. Make sure you have the time, and that you want to take it on.
3. Make a chores’ list. Think you are ready to take the plunge? Sit down with your family and decide who will take care of what chores and how/when they will be accomplished:
- Daily grooming: coat and teeth
- Poo pick-up/yard clean-up
- Grocery shopping
- Vet trips – consider, too, who will do what if there is an emergency
4. Potty-training. Many rescue dogs and all puppies will need to be potty-trained. This takes time. It also means someone has to be around to take him out regularly and often. Who will be in charge of this?
5. ‘No-no’ on home alone. Dogs are very social creatures. Leaving them home all day alone is irresponsible and cruel to the dog for a multitude of reasons. Don’t do it. You have three choices:
- Come home during the day to visit and walk him
- Get a reliable and caring dog walking/sitting service for the days that you are not home, and or
- Drop him at a great doggy day care for socializing and playtime
Bringing home a dog to join your family takes careful planning so the experience can be a great one for all of you. Thank you for listening.
Remember, dogs are people, too!
Your faithful cavaliers,
Happy and Lady
Happy Lady Productions is an independent, philanthropic publisher of non-fiction, fiction and children’s picture books created by writer Emily Randolph and photographer Dan Merchant. A portion of proceeds from the sale of their books is given to charitable organizations supporting animal welfare and pet therapy programs.
Emily and Dan will also work with businesses and corporations to tailor make creative publishing projects with a philanthropic focus. Please contact HLP for more information.