"Get the puppy!" I yell to the girls as Millie takes off with a pine cone in her mouth. "Grab her!"
James and Lisa have a new Airedale puppy. Millie is the new baby in the family.
Puppy loves to chew. She tackles anything that comes within reach of her mouth. The sofa, a hand, the rug, whatever draws her attention. Ah, the trials of puppy raising.
I watch Millie and think how similar puppy rearing is to child rearing. We didn't walk our babies, but who can forget the frustration of potty training. How many new foods were pushed aside or tossed on the floor? How many things found their way into the baby's mouth? We removed things we didn't want destroyed or that could hurt the child. We were up during the night seeing to the needs of the child. We comforted our children when they visited the doctor. And, best of all, we sat next to them and watched them sleep grinning at every little movement and coo. Millie is our new baby.
Dogs take a lot of work. Many have passed through my life time. But each was my friend and a loved one. Lessons were learned from my pets. They gave me comfort. They gave me unconditional love. They were my playmates.
I'm a firm believer in pets for children. However, pets are not always good for the adults. The shelter is full of animals that 'didn't work out'. These once sweet animals are turned away when patience wears out and training is not considered. I wonder what message this gives to a child.
In a time when marriage is so easily dissolved, in a time when we no longer live in the old neighborhoods, a time when kids are faced with many transitions, I'm not surprised that many kids are depressed and confused. We can see through the adult eye, but we cannot see through the child's. I know that during the struggles of my life, my pets have been my confidants and my comfort.
We take in a pet as a member of our family. As a child so fiercely stated when mommy and daddy divorced and gave up the dog, "How can they do that? He's family." For the parents, the decision seemed right. For the child, a family member was going away. Her pal, her comfort, her friend. Perhaps she worried that about her place in the family as well.
I do not condemn those who see the need to give up their pet. However, I do wonder that maybe we give up too easily on those special 'family members'. Perhaps we don't realize their importance to us as well as the children
The puppy chews, the puppy pees on the floor, the puppy doesn't do the things that could make life easier. Yet, in the end, the grown dog resulting from the care and love given by the family is indeed a friend.
Ah, sweet Millie.