Last week I introduced you to Bailey, our cockapoo. Bailey means a lot of things to our family – she’s a loving pet, a trusted friend and our “starter child.” Because before we had the kidlets, raising Bailey up from a pup was the first stab at this whole parenting thing for Hubs and me.
Bailey was a smart and sweet puppy. She took to toilet training right away — just a few weeks of marching around outside at all hours until she pooped was all it took! She had a lot of energy, even for a puppy-but we quickly found she maybe wasn’t listening as well as she should to her new mommy and daddy. As new “parents” we needed a little expert help. At first, we actually brought in our own low-rent “dog whisperer,” and while she tried her best, she was no Cesar Millan. So once she had all of her shots, we enrolled Bailey in an obedience class. The six-week “puppy education” course promised to get us off on the right paw by teaching her good behaviors while helping us to establish a strong bond with our pup. The Hubs and I were excited to teach her basics like “sit” and “stay,” plus how to socialize with other people and dogs. Like any newly married couple, and proud new “parents,” we wanted to do this training together.
There was our first problem.
Poor Bailey had the two of us literally “barking” orders at her as we each took turns during the lessons to train her. I was the stern taskmaster and Hubs was the sweet encouraging one. Bailey was clearly confused by our different parenting styles and the end result was a big flunk out of obedience school. The only command she responded to was “park it.” For that lesson, Bailey had only one person training her (Hubs took her to that lesson, I was on a business trip) in one consistent way and ingrained it in her brain.
So we learned an invaluable lesson: that as parents, we needed to be in sync and find a middle ground between our two styles in order not to give our future children conflicting messages. FYI…this is still something we struggle with. When we catch ourselves being out of sync on something with our kidlets, we try to take it off-line and discuss it without them around, so they don’t know that we don’t agree!
Now Bailey isn’t the most obedient dog, but she can sit, lay down and definitely knows how to come to the kitchen when it’s dinnertime. We did all the everyday things parents do with their kids…..
We took her to the beach:
And even dressed her in the cutest Halloween costumes:She never ran away or out of the house and into the street, so the Hubs & I figured we had the doggy parent thing down enough to feel a bit more confident about our next big project: having kids!
When I got pregnant with our son, Bailey would not come near me. She totally would snub me, or if she did come near me, she would immediately pee. I guess she was marking her territory – like “hey kid in there, I was here first” – or just doing it out of spite. We were worried that Bailey wouldn’t adjust to the baby and we would have to sadly adopt her out. The night our son was born Hubs brought home a blanket from the hospital to let Bailey sniff. Bailey went totally crazy, her tail wagging, all excited and wound up sleeping in her little dog bed with it. Much to our relief, when we came home with our son we were thrilled that Bailey loved him as much as we did. Maybe she finally realized she was getting her own new playmate! We repeated this entire scenario for kidlet number two, but once our daughter came home, Bailey went back to her old self.
Bailey is now six years old and entering middle age – I guess that makes her 42 in dog years, haha, she’s older than me now! – but she’s still a puppy at heart. She NEVER slows down. She’s constantly chasing squirrels, chipmunks and birds in our yard. She hasn’t caught one yet, and I’m not eager for her to do so! The kidlets are getting older and are starting to interact with her more…and sometimes, not so nicely. But Bailey is very sweet and patient, always wanting to “give kisses” to the kids. No matter how much they pull or tug on her, she’s NEVER growled at them or put her teeth on them. It’s like she knows they are kids, her “brother & sister” even, and though they annoy her sometimes, she needs to protect them.
With all the craziness of raising two kidlets plus the Hubs and me with full time jobs, Bailey sometimes has to take a backseat. However, we try to make it up to her – taking her out for some extra playtime, long weekend walks, and plenty of treats (she loves chicken strips!). When she’s at the kennel, vet or groomer – Hubs & I always say how strange it is not have Bailey around. She is truly a member of this family, and the house would seem empty without her.
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