Puppy Love for our Family

Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.

Before we got engaged, before we bought our home, and before we were even married, Matt and I were scoping out pet options. Originally we had talked about a basset hound. Ree is always posting these drool-worthy (pun intended, ahem) photos of her beautiful babies and I just think they are so precious! But Matt was put off by the potential stink, the howling and the drool. So we continued our search. I wanted a dachshund as my second choice so we looked at a few rescues and breeders, but weren’t quite ready to commit when we found sweet little Nunzio huddled in a cage at the dog pound. She just had to come home with me.

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During our wait period imposed by the pound’s policies, we discovered Vito’s ad in the newspaper and within 48 hours we had two little puppies in our homes. This was a month after we married and a few weeks before we left for Arkansas to watch my brother graduate from college. A week after we returned my mother died. During the short weeks that we had these dogs, people were constantly telling us that we had shot ourselves in the foot by taking these dogs which would dramatically impead our freedom. The morning Mom passed, I had to send Matt home from the hospital so he could let our squirmy little puppies out to potty, for goodness sake!

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But what people didn’t see was how those dogs cuddled themselves right into the very fabric of our family. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I don’t know that I would have survived some of those days without them. While grieving my mother, I would lay on the ground while the dogs stayed to offer comfort. When I was depressed after our first two miscarriages, they snuggled up to remind me I would always have them. When I dealt with HG while pregnant with Liam, Vito would lay in the bathroom with me in between vomiting and whimper his concern. When Liam was born, Vito never left my side (much to the midwife’s chagrin). And when my water broke with Sylvi, Vito, who was sleeping out in the living room, woke up at that same instant and ran back to my bedroom to be with me. All those night feedings and ill babies, Nunzio stayed by my side offering her wise eyes up as comfort when I cried from fatigue and frustration. And when our children started to feed themselves, both dogs were even more attached to our children!

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At this point, we’ve had pets in this house, including a brief dalliance with hamsters (which Matt hated), for eight years. After Nunzio’s passing last September, I honestly pondered if we should get another pet to keep Vito company. But he’s getting old, so the odds of the new pet being lonely and us starting the cycle all over again are high. As a matter of fact, I’ve noticed more and more that after his initial greeting when people come over, he flops down for a nap and cannot be bothered to join in… even when food is presented!

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Our children have been welcomed into our home by our pets, they’ve held onto Vito’s sturdy back as they learned to stand and curled up with them to watch movies. Through our dogs, our children have learned how to be gentle, how to be kind and how to be aware of another’s feelings. Liam cared for and protected our dogs long before he had a little sister to do that for. And Sylvi practically smothers them with her love and snuggles.

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People often ask me what we will do when Vito’s time on Earth comes to an end. Honestly, the answer is mostly likely going to be “find a couple of pugs to fill our home”. As snorty and loud and spoiled as this dog is, he is perfect for our family. I’ll never be able to go for a run with a pug, but the pug is perfect for our family. And perfect for our children. We love our pets, and I love watching my children learn responsibility, awareness (hello! poop in the yard!) and kindness by having them here. And besides, if we didn’t have a pug, what else would I call this blog? 😉

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
  • Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus —Kids, dog, haikus, at

    Dionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.

  • Beanie’s Bunnies — Our Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!
  • 3 Reasons Why Keeping Backyard Chickens is Good for my Toddler — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, started keeping backyard chickens for the benefit of their eggs, but what she wasn’t prepared for was what they would teach her two year old daughter too.

20 Replies to “Puppy Love for our Family”

  1. Aw, what a sweet and touching story! I’m so glad you’ve given yourselves and your kids these memories of such wonderful companions. I feel the same way, where animals need to be part of our life even if it’s inconvenient at times. Love all your pictures, too!

    1. I think some of the best character lessons can be learned from having pets… including how to NOT stab the villain in the eye, even when you’re in the middle of a crazy game 🙂

  2. I think you are right to let Vito finish his life as an only dog before you get new puppies. I have known a couple of families who have managed to get a young and an old pet to live in harmony, but it seems more feasible when there are three or more pets. When there are just two, often the young one annoys the older and makes those final years stressful.

    I’m glad you found the right pets for you!

  3. I loved reading about your darling pets, and the way that they complete your family (well, the way they STARTED your family!). We have had the same experience with our dogs. Not having had a pet growing up, I was unsure that I would be a good dog owner. But I take pride and find joy in training and loving our canine family members, just like you 🙂

  4. It’s so true that pets can support us through rough times and teach our kids so much. I just can’t imagine my life without them, even if someone pooped in my living room this morning. 😛

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