Well, if you know me, you were probably expecting a post of this nature eventually.
Here’s a little fact about me: I love animals. Always have, always will. For as long as I can remember I have loved cats, dogs, and any other furry creature I came in contact with, saw from afar, or learned about. Having a pet of some sort has just been a part of my growing up.
One day, I finally became old enough to have my own pet, and of course, I wanted a large dog. For my 15th birthday I got a gift certificate from my dad for the Oregon humane society. As soon as I possibly could, I dragged my mom to the humane society to pick one out. The first dog I thought I loved was a giant blood hound, until we got it into a visiting room and the dog ignored us completely, instead he sniffed his was around the room and when he was done he gave a big shake of the head and drool flew everywhere.. Mom immediately said “no.” As we walked out of the visit room my mom saw this sweet yellow dog that was pressing herself against the kennel door, begging for pets. Her name was Nyah. She was skin and bones, dandruff falling into our hands as we loved on her. She was about a year old and 60 pounds. We met with her and immediately loved her. Even crazier, when we brought Rags, moms little yorkie, he liked her too! So I got my 5 dollar dog. She was the best thing that ever could have happened to me at that time in my life.
Fast forward 6 years, Nate and I have our own place. We also had 2 cats, Charlie Monster and Flomar, whose names we came up with the first time we met. Charlie, a maine coon we adopted from the humane society, and Flomar, a Siamese we got off Craigslist. We were happy with our little family.
Then I acquired Sarge. I rescued him as an oily, flea ridden mess of a kitten who approached me from under a car in a parking lot. Of course, thanks to my sometimes inconvenient passion, I scooped him up, took him home and bathed him, then gave to him to my dad after a month or two of fostering. However, soon circumstances changed and my dad had to move to a place where he wasn’t able to keep him, so Sarge moved back in with us. He quickly became my “Mitten”.
Last November my mom passed away and I claimed her two dogs, Rags and Andy, two 12 year old yorkies.
So, we have a 6 animal household. AND A BABY.
There are lots of people out there who think that raising a child with animals in the house is risky business. There are people out there (and I know this based on the phone calls that I have received at the vet clinic I work at) that think it is okay, even normal, to euthanize a pet because there is no longer space for him in the home, or because he is all of a sudden extremely annoying to them. It’s an unfortunate fact that some people think that the animals they have welcomed into their home aren’t family members, but props in their family portrait.
When I got pregnant, I wasn’t worried about the dogs not liking the baby, I was excited to be able to share the relationship I had with Nyah with my baby! I was excited for my baby to grow up with access to cats and dogs, and learn how to love a pet at a young age. A Facebook friend of mine who is pregnant recently posted a status expressing her frustration about certain people in her life continuously mentioning their thoughts about her giving up her dog when the baby comes. This broke my heart, because apparently her dog is just a sweet, innocent black lab. Some people just assume that all dogs are going to be a danger to a baby. Don’t get me wrong, even the sweetest dog could be accidentally dangerous if left with a baby without an adult present, but come on people.
Anyways, once Paxton arrived, I was so excited to introduce him to the pets. However, we got home, and other than a few sniffs, the pets were pretty much unimpressed. As Paxton has gotten older, they are somewhat more interactive, Nyah will occasionally give him a lick. Mitten, however, is pretty taken with him. He likes to snuggle up with Paxton when he’s feeling friendly. Of course I was extremely cautious about Paxton sleeping, making sure cats didn’t have access to him, in case they were feeling a little too cuddly, but as he has gotten older we have been more lax about that because he is so good at waking up if he is uncomfortable, though we still kick cats out when they get close to his upper body when he’s asleep.
I think that there are lots of benefits to raising a pet with a baby. It helps reduce the risk of allergies. It socializes the pets so they will be comfortable around babies, making them (hopefully) gentler animals overall. You are giving the baby an opportunity to learn how to love pets, as well as the opportunity to give them responsibilities at a young age. You are potentially raising future pet owners, and if there is one thing I’ve learned from working at a vet clinic, it’s that the world could use more loving pet owners. I couldn’t be happier that I’m raising my baby in small zoo, and I have a feeling that one day, Paxton will thank us for it.