Monday, October 15, 2012

How Much is the Doggy in the Window?

Arf Arf.

No, we did not get, nor are we getting a dog. But we did dog sit a couple of weekends ago and the kids loved (most of) it.

Max is a great dog belonging to my friend Monika over at He's a large Yorkie who is a great apartment dog and wonderful with kids. He is also very laid back. I picked him up Friday afternoon and he went home Monday evening. He didn't even blink about saying good-bye to his family and walking home with me. He's been to my place a few times to visit and led me almost to my door without any prompting. While there, he treated the place like home, showing none of the anxiety I would have expected. It did take him a bit to get used to the noise in the hallway. He lives in a much smaller building, with almost as many apartments spread out over 6 floors as we have just on my floor in my building. I think he kept hoping the sounds (particularly the kid and stroller sounds) meant his family was back.

Nathan was over the moon. He loves animals, any and all animals. He's like me that way. Corwyn likes them, but not with the same enthusiasm. Both boys love cats and small animals. But with dogs, Corwyn is more reserved. Not Nathan, from the moment Max arrived, he wanted him as a constant companion.

 There were some logistics to work out. I live in an apartment. Dogs need to be walked. Kids can not be left alone. Happily Max comes from apartment life which is similar to mine (although there are two adults in his place so one can stay with the child during dog walks). According to Monika, he only needed to go out twice a day. I took advantage of the weather and we went out more frequently. Initially, having him there really helped the boys get ready faster (Hurry, Max really needs to pee!). But as the weekend went on, this took a bit longer and longer, and although they never resisted, just dragged it out more each time.

Corwyn loved helping hold the leash to walk Max. Nathan did too, but wanted to hold it on his own. Unfortunately Max has little to no recall and even if he did, he's not my dog so I wouldn't want to test it. Nathan is easily distracted and would often let go of his hand hold. I was not letting him hold the leash on his own (except once we were inside on the way to the elevator). Nathan took an odd pleasure in taking the poop bag to the garbage. Both boys made the appropriate eewwwww sounds when he pooped.

Nathan wanted Max to sleep with him, but Max didn't want to sleep with Nathan because he is too active until he falls asleep. Max wanted to sleep with Corwyn because Corwyn just lies there, but Corwyn didn't want Max in his bed. In the end, Nathan would fall asleep on the floor next to me (I stay in the bedroom until they fall asleep) and Max would fall asleep in Nathan's bed. (after which I moved Nathan to his bed and Max came with me). It worked.

The harder part came with the before bed pee. While we took him out around 6 or 7 each night, it wouldn't be until 7 or 8 until I could get the boys up and dressed to take him out again. So before I went to sleep, I took him outside for the worlds fastest pee. The boys rarely wake during the evening (although by 3am both are usually in my bed) but I really didn't want them awake and looking for me (Nathan can unlock and open the door). This was a bit of a panic time for me, but we made it through the 3 nights.

Overall, the experience was great. It reaffirmed that we could not get a dog until the boys were old enough to be left alone for the late night walk, or I won the lottery and bought a house with a yard. One night last week, I was in the hallway, just outside my door (partly open) talking with a friend. Nathan woke up and I heard him. In less than 1 minutes he was very worked up because he could not find me (our place is small). One morning, at camp, Corwyn and I went to the bathroom while Nathan was still asleep. He woke up. As we were coming back to our room, I saw Nathan already outside, crying because he couldn't find us. No, I can't leave them, even for a short pee break with a dog.

I know so many people who think all kids should have a dog. While I love dogs, I don't necessarily agree. I think a dog needs to fit into the entire family and the family lifestyle needs to allow for it. As mentioned, I can't leave the kids alone to walk a dog and we don't have a yard to just let one out in, so no dog for now. For other families, they spend little to no time at home. Dogs need companionship. Some need TONS of exercise and that is another time commitment. Some are great at holding in pee, some cant go more than 5 or 6 hours. That said, some families and kids are great with dogs.

A dog is a commitment. I know people who suggest getting a dog to teach a child responsibility. Well, what happens when the child decides he/she doesn't want to walk or feed the dog? Dogs are not tools to be abandoned when the experiment fails. But unfortunately, the shelter is full of dogs like this. And what does that teach the child about having a pet? That they can dispose of them? Commitment. If you plan to get a dog then understand it is a family dog. Know in advance that you as the parent will likely do most of the work. Sure there are some exceptions, but don't plan for those. If you get a dog, make sure it's for the right reasons.

So no dog for us, as least not until they are much older. But I knew that once we were past the potty stage (potties take up space), we might consider a cat. We recently applied and were accepted to adopt a cat from the local orphan cat/kitten rescue. We now need to meet some of the foster cats and find the one that fits with our home. Yes, a cat is also a commitment, but unlike a dog, I wont have to leave the kids alone to take care of it's needs. Both boys like dogs but they LOVE cats. And I think a cat is more suited to Corwyn who doesn't like being jumped on or licked. The cat will be a family cat and of course right now, the responsibility will mostly be mine. But over time they can, if they want take over things like filling the water dish, cleaning the litter box (!!), brushing etc.

And for those who think we're "settling" by getting a cat instead of a dog, here's a shot of Nathan who jumped off his bike to go pet a random kitty we saw. He does this with any and every cat cat we see (luckily he's never tried to pet one of the skunks in our neighborhood). Corwyn has this same reaction to cats (although he will hide from big or hyper dogs). And me, I love cats.


K J and the kids said...

Cat people vs dog people.
That was a pretty cute dog....and I'm glad that it worked out.

I agree 100%. Dogs are a huge commitment and it isn't fair to you or the dog if you can't give them the attention that they need.

I've never understood people who get dogs and put them in kennels in their back yard. Locked up all of the time...never let out to play.

We had a neighbor with this GORGEOUS HUGE yellow lab that he NEVER and I mean maybe once a week if that...let this dog out of it's jail. He was a super freak about his yard and lawn. He didn't want the kids playing on it let alone a big dog.

We talked them into letting us a find a home for the poor thing. We did and he is now practically the biggest and most loved lap dog you'll ever see.

I don't know why I told you that story. :) talkative I guess.

Lisa Corriveau said...

I'm more of a cat person--never had a dog--so I don't think you're settling at all. One thing to note about cats though--most of them are not as solitary as people think. It's great to get two cats so they have a companion when you're away. It's really not any more work than one & it's really lovely to see two cats grooming each other, playing & sleeping in a pile. :)

Christine Fretwell said...

Lisa I've usually had more than one cat and would be getting more than one, but I'm hoping to move into a new building (with more than one bedroom) and they only allow one pet.
The cat rescue I'm going through assess their cats and lists some that must be adopted with a buddy, which should be adopted with a buddy and which would be fine as a solo kitty.
My cats have never been aloof and were also social (with just me or with everyone).

Christine Fretwell said...

Lisa, just saw you were local to me. I'm going through Vokra (Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association). I'm going to do a post on them once we have our new family member. Everyone I've talked to said they are good at screening both the cats and the adoptive families. I'll keep you posted!

Lesley Ord said...

While teaching kids to be responsible is great, I think our kids are too young to grasp the complete scope of the responsibility of taking care of an animal. And there are plenty of years for them to learn it later in life when they can actually help. At this point all the responsibility of taking care of an animal would just add to your already busy schedule! We have a dog that only goes out twice a day and I can't even imagine how I would manage walking her without Doug being here to help. Especially those rare occasions when she isn't feeling well and asks to go out late at night when Ewan is in bed. I couldn't possibly leave him asleep 19 floors up while I take her out. Imagine if the fire alarm went off while we were out. Ewan would wake up and freak out because he was alone and I couldn't get back up to him as the elevators shut down and the stairs are locked off to the floors. Makes me shudder to think. No Chris. Save yourself the extra work and get a goldfish instead.