When my husband and I were newlyweds, he started begging me to get a dog. I grew up with dogs, but I knew the kind of work and sacrifice this would mean including one day, saying goodbye. It was not a decision I came to lightly and I knew that it would involve a lot of work and devotion to this sweet animal who came into our lives and into our hearts.
We loved her dearly, our sweet rescue mix and she took everything in stride: our move to Central New York, the birth of one child and then another, a move to a new house. She came along happily because she was with her pack and that was all that mattered to her. She embraced her role as caretaker of small humans and she loved waiting for the school bus and stealing snacks out of their backpacks.
We had to say goodbye to our first fur-baby in April of 2017 and we were all devastated. She died from a cancerous tumor that was well hidden in her chest cavity and was not discovered until it was too late to do anything about. My children cried out loud when they heard the news that we had to say goodbye to her and there were many nights that they couldn’t sleep because they missed their dog. My then four year old said, “It’s not fair, I was just getting to know her!”
So my husband and I decided after a period of grieving, we would get them another dog. Even though we knew it was painful to say goodbye, we decided it was even more painful for our children to be without a pet. We chose a dog this time that would be right for them as well as for us. We considered personality, size, energy level, how much we travel for sports and vacations, and we knew we needed a hypoallergenic dog to accommodate their asthma and allergies. We also needed a dog that would love us out of our grief. Still, I struggled with the decision. Is that the wrong reason to get a dog…to make your kids happy?
The American Kennel Club says that kids who have dogs have a series of beneficial traits:
(1) They have high self-esteem
(2) They are compassionate
(3) They feel supported
(4) They feel less stressed
(5) They are happier
(6) They are healthier
“The Many Ways Kids Benefit From Having a Dog”
I considered all this and I listened to my children list all the ways they would help me with the new dog. As hard as it would be to have a puppy, I decided to give them the joy (and aggravation) of the puppy stage. This dog would truly grow up with them, I thought, and hopefully one or both of them will be in college before we have to say goodbye again.
So after much research and consideration, we found our puppy and brought her home. My children had so much fun shopping for bedding, collars and toys. This was truly their dog and they took to the role of dog owner gladly. They participated in training sessions with me and helped teach her new skills. So I can’t say it is the right decision for every household, but I do know that for us, our new dog healed my kids’ broken hearts…and mine. They will never forget their first dog, but this one will truly be their childhood companion, and that is a great gift.