How Having a Dog Prepares You for Parenthood.

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In April, my husband and I bought our first home. It is a lovely house, over 100 years old with beautiful wood floors and woodwork throughout the house. It also has a fenced in backyard, which to me meant one thing: we’re getting a puppy. And the following month, we did. We found a Siberian Husky breeder from rural Nebraska in the newspaper and in a Walmart parking lot in Fremont we were given our first puppy, Luna. As you can see, she was adorable. She stole our hearts immediately. She was so soft and sweet and cuddly. She took lots of naps. She was playful and quirky. It was a match made in heaven.

The honeymoon was over about two weeks later. As Luna grew, she became more energetic, and less sleepy. She became less licky, and more bitey. Potty training was hit or miss. She developed a taste for socks, Christopher’s in particular. She made several escape attempts that resulted in heart-attack inducing moments of panic as she ran fearlessly in front of cars, even a fire engine. She desecrated our dining room rug on so many occasions that we eventually gave up on cleaning it and just threw it away.

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Little did we know at the time that Luna was preparing us for the next big step in our lives: parenthood. In July, we found out that we are expecting our first son, Solomon, in March. And I can’t help but notice all of the ways Luna has helped us understand the reality of parenting. Now, I know raising a child is vastly different from raising a dog; you can’t put your child in a kennel for a few hours while you and your husband run errands. However, there as several things Luna has done that I am positive Solomon and whatever children come after him will do.

#1) Destroy beloved possessions.
My husband, Christopher, has a love for old books. He has quite the impressive collection that he displays proudly in our living room, but his most beloved book of all is a large, very old Bible that my mom got him for Christmas two years ago. He loves the ornate detailing on the cover. Tragically, Luna also discovered her love for this Bible, not as a beautiful piece of history, but as a delicious snack. One summer day, I discovered her methodically chewing away pieces of the spine. Terror rushed through my veins as I realized the magnitude of what she had done, the effect it would have on my husband, and the horror of being the one who had to deliver the bad news to him. When Christopher came home, I broke the news to him as gently as I could. He did not speak for half an hour. If you know my husband, you will know the depth of his devastation. It was an amazing display of self control on his part not to pack Luna’s things and ship her out the door. And as time passes, it slowly heals the wound, but I know there will always be a small twinge of sadness at the thought of that Bible.

Luna did not know how much Christopher loves that Bible, she simply enjoyed the rip of the cover and the flavor of over a hundred years of knowledge and wisdom. Likewise, Solomon will break many things in our home without knowing about our sentimental attachments to them. I fully expect him to one day discover my wedding dress in the back of my closet and decide to “make it pretty” with magic markers.

#2) Need to be reminded of the rules 10,000 times.
Luna is not allowed on our couch at home. We bought it at Mrs. B’s Furniture Outlet when we moved in on a lucky break and we are trying to keep it as nice as possible for as long as possible. However, at my parents’ home, Luna is allowed on the couch. Now, I understand that this may be confusing for her, but we have been quite firm about her not being on the couch at home. We know she knows this, because she always waits until we leave the room before she jumps up on the couch. Lately, however, she has become more bold. If you are sitting on the couch, she will come over to you under the pretense that she “wants to snuggle”. She will lay her head on your lap and lick your hands and shove her head under your hand to tell you she wants to be petted. Once you start petting her, she puts her front paws in your lap. Then she snuggles you. Then her back leg begins to slowly creep onto the couch and next thing you know, there she is sitting on the couch with you as if it was the most normal and natural thing in the world. And every time she does it, she gets a spanking.

If Solomon is half as stubborn as I was as a child, he will need constant reminders of the rules as well.

#3) Get sick and make spectacular messes.
On Friday evening, we bought Luna one of those obscenely humongous rawhides in the shape of a candy cane. It was on Christmas clearance at Petco. She was very excited, as were we because we knew it would keep her occupied for some time. She happily chewed it for several hours that evening before we put her to bed. The next day, I let her chew for a few hours in the morning, and Christopher let her chew for a few hours that afternoon. Luna has a sensitive digestive system, but we weren’t too worried because she has had rawhides before and been fine. We were horridly wrong. She had a little bout with her bowels Sunday morning, so we decided to have her skip breakfast to give her stomach a break.

When we came home from church Sunday afternoon, we immediately knew something was wrong. Our house was filled with a putrid odor. Something dark was brewing in Mordor. I went to the basement to let Luna out of her kennel. What I found was straight out of a horror movie. Her entire lower half was covered in mess. It was all over her kennel. There was no where for her to go. She was so sad. We spent the next two hours giving her a bath, cleaning her kennel, cleaning the floor around her kennel, cleaning the carpet where we tracked in mud from trying to rinse Luna off outside, and cleaning up the vomit that was still coming out of Luna. We fed her the tried and true remedy of boiled chicken and rice to settle her stomach and sat with her in the kitchen for about an hour until we were confident she would keep her food down. She spent the rest of the evening sleeping on our feet while we ate a dinner of cereal, trail mix, and edamame. We tried to have her sleep in her kennel in case she had another accident, but after about an hour she started crying, so she spent the night curled up on the floor of our bedroom. This morning she was tried, but decidedly better.

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As we were cleaning and worrying over our sweet Luna, I came to the realization that this was not the last spectacularly disgusting mess we would be dealing with. Children get sick. They make messes. And you take care of them because they are yours and you love them. So while I know Solomon and any of his siblings to come after him will test and try us in ways Luna never will, I can’t help but feel that Luna has helped up stay realistic about taking care of children and overcoming any squeamishness we might have had. We are better people because of Luna, and we will be even better people because of Solomon.

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