Kern Health jul18 Asthma leader

Humor@Home: 2 Dogs + 2 Kids = 0 Rules

How Having Kids Was a Game-Changer for Our Dogs

You know how when you’re talking on the phone, all of a sudden your kids think there are no rules? It’s like they think you can’t see them because your attention is diverted. Sure, you may raise your eyebrows, make eye contact, and mouth silent threats; but they know you’re not going to do anything to stop their shenanigans—at least not until you hang up the phone. 

Yes, well, it was sort of like that with our dogs: All the rules went out the window when our attention was diverted from the dogs to the kids. Because before there were kids, there were just dogs. We had rules for our dogs. No dogs on the furniture. And no table scraps. There were also rules we set out to have that we never could actually enforce, like no barking at skateboarders, no digging, no chasing squirrels, no chasing cats, no chasing other dogs, no chasing cars. Pretty much no chasing anything. We tried to teach them not to chase or dig or bark. But, alas, they continued to chase and dig and bark.

But they never got on the couches or the beds. And they never ate people food or begged. Our dogs were four and three years old when we brought home our first real baby. They knew the rules. But as the babies grew into toddlers who dropped things from high chairs, it became easier to just “let the dogs lick that.”

And when the toddlers moved from cribs to mattresses on the floor and the dogs jumped onto the mattresses, which weren’t really “furniture,” it was just too easy to let them sleep with the children. You know, to “protect” them at night.

Now those toddlers are big kids on big beds, and those young dogs are old dogs with arthritis who still somehow manage to jump onto those beds and squeeze into whatever space is left between the child and her thirty-thousand stuffed animals.

And now that they know that small people sometimes drop food, they sit next to the table, mouths open, tongues sneakily snaking toward the plates. I ask myself on a regular basis, “Whose dogs are these? They used to be good. They used to just chase and dig and bark. Now they chase and dig and bark AND beg and sleep on the furniture.”

I caught one of them on my bed recently. I asked her, “What are you doing here?” She stood up and looked around, as if to say, “Oh, I didn’t know this was your bed,” and jumped down. The sneak. The other one steals food. One day she stole a loaf of bread off the counter, took the bread out of the plastic bag, emptied the bag onto the floor, and ate half the loaf before I caught her. Another time, she got an entire batch of cupcakes off the counter, ate the cupcakes, and left the paper cups on the floor. Well, one thing you can say about that--I didn’t have to worry about whether or not she would be able to pass all that paper through her digestive system.

If I had it to do all over again, I’d wipe up those high chair spills. I guess I’d still let the dogs sleep with the kids in their beds. It makes them (the dogs and the kids) so happy. But, I draw the line at lifting them onto the beds when they get too old to jump up on their own.

Or so I say right now.

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Tags: Food & Home, Parenting, Pets

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