Over the past few weeks I’ve introduced you to me, my two kidlets, the Hubs, but in my old age (I am turning 40 this year, YIKES!) I seemingly forgot to mention one member of our family. This is Bailey, our first child…
Growing up, I had always wanted a pet, but we never had a cat or dog due to my sister’s supposed “allergies.” That was the official explanation, but quite honestly, I think my mom just didn’t want to have to deal with the hassle of an animal. Many of my childhood friends had dogs and I was always envious of the affection and true devotion of their loving pets and was awed at how protective they were of their charges as well.
When the Hubs and I got married, we knew we wanted adopt a dog. In fact, taking care of one would be our first test as to what kind of parents we might be, baby steps to raising a baby, you could say. The Hubs had grown up with dogs in the midwest but was unable to have one while living as a single guy in an apartment, so he was enthusiastic about a furry new friend. About a year into our marriage, we were ready to expand.
The Hubs and I tried for weeks to adopt a dog from local shelters, but with no luck. Why, you may ask? Because even though we had a nice house, a big yard, money for vet bills and lots of love to offer a desperately deserving doggie, we both worked full-time. The people who ran these shelters, while perhaps well-intentioned, thought it wouldn’t be “fair” to the animal that we wouldn’t be home during the day. I had explained to them that we would have a dog walker come in while we were at work and we would have the entire weekends with the dog, but that wasn’t good enough. It was quite a disappointment, honestly. We didn’t really want to go the “buying” route when there are so many dogs in need, but we were rejected by four different shelters, all for the same reason.
So our next step was to buy one from a breeder. Since we now could pick the breed, we first had to figure out the best kind of dog to get. We didn’t want a dog that was too big, hairy or aggressive (I had a scary experience with a big dog as a child), but we also certainly didn’t want a Paris-Hilton-accessory/barking-rat kind of dog. So, like any good parents-to-be, we did a ton of research and came up with the perfect pooch for us – a cockapoo…a cocker spaniel/poodle hybrid. Our dog would be smart like a poodle, but warm, cuddly & devoted like a spaniel. Best of all, the dog would be hypoallergenic – having hair rather than fur – so no shedding all over the house and no worries about anyone’s allergies.
We were well-aware of the real problem of puppy mills. We needed to find a responsible, humane breeder (not cheap) and after more research we eventually stumbled upon Bailey’s breeder in Wisconsin. Bailey came from a litter of eight. We had hoped to get the chocolate-colored female from the litter but when we inquired, we were told that all the pups were already spoken for, except one, the runt of the litter. The breeder sent us this photo:
And let me tell you, Bailey quickly became daddy’s girl. I think it’s because Hubs picked her up from the airport cargo depot. Hubs took her out of the cage to take a look at her and give her some water. It was just love at first sight for both. Bailey wagged her little tail at her hero and Hubs just melted. To this, day he is always the first person Bailey runs to when we come home, and she is always hanging around in hopes he’ll go outside and engage in her favorite activity-chasing a football. Endlessly. Hot weather, freezing weather, day, night, doesn’t matter. Honestly, it must be instinctual because we never trained her to do any tricks, she just saw the ball one day and literally picked it up and ran with it!
As for me, Bailey and I have sort of a love-hate relationship. I’m much more of the disciplinarian of the household, so I was constantly ordering her to get off the couch, get off the bed, don’t chew my shoes…you know, the usual routine. If I scolded her, she would immediately run over to Hubs for some comfort. But I am her mommy in every way. When she was sick and wouldn’t eat, I hand fed her food with a fork. For her first birthday I even got her a doggie cake to celebrate the day! And like any first child, we took way too many pictures of her! She soon became well represented in any family event, usually giving us a “what the heck is going on here look” for the camera.
In my next post, I’ll tell you about our first serious attempt at parenting Bailey – taking her to obedience classes. Let’s just say, I think we learned a lot about how to raise kids from the mistakes we made with our “starter child”…
Does your family have any four-legged members? Did they arrive in the family before the kids did?