Friday, February 20, 2009

Here is Your Chance to Convince Me

So, I think it is pretty clear that we have a dog lover in this house. : ) Thank you for leaving Oldest Princess your nice comments after her guest post. She read every one and is so excited about how many people are on her side in her quest to get a dog.

Her birthday is coming up in two weeks, and I've considered the possibility of getting a dog for her. (Grandma, note that I said CONSIDERED not DECIDED to get her a dog) I have so many reservations about doing it, though. I thought I'd dedicate this post to explain why I'm dragging my feet and to see if any of you have advice one way or the other.

I have to be honest. I'm not an animal person. I don't dislike animals at all, I'm just content to be pet-free. I'm perfectly happy with taking care of babies. I think my husband and youngest daughter could be described the same way. But my oldest daughter on the other hand. I don't think she just wants a pet, I think it is a NEED.

But here are my concerns:

- She is so young (only in the first grade) and may not be ready for such a huge responsibility

- I'm so busy with a new baby right now, isn't having a puppy just like having a newborn-sleepless nights, potty training etc.? I keep thinking, "Maybe this just isn't the right time."

- I have no idea what kind of dog to get. I don't like yippy, little dogs that are hyper, but I am intimidated by big dogs and my youngest daughter is, too.

- The dogs I think are cute are REALLY expensive ($500 - $1,000) and I really don't know if they'd make good dogs or not. I think Bichon Frise are adorable. And I like the small breeds that are mixed with poodles. I like the idea of as little shedding as possible. What little dogs would be loving, mellow, and low maintenance? My oldest daughter doesn't care what a dog looks like. She loves them all! But I want a cute one. I'm shallow like that.

- I'm a wimpy city girl who doesn't want to deal with dog throw up or dog diarrhea. I watched my good friend go through these messes and it scared me. I have a hard enough time cleaning up after my kids that I'd take a bullet for when they puke or have poop issues.

- We live in a neighborhood, so a dog wouldn't have a lot of room to run and be free.

Anyway, I want so much to see the look of joy on her face when we finally give her the dog she's wanted for years, but I'm just not sure if now is the right time, and if it is, what kind of dog would be best? I know that all of the responsibility would fall on me if she isn't ready for this, so it needs to be a dog I could fall in love with, too. I know I would fall in love with our dog once we get him or her, I just don't know what to do. What do you all think?


Melanie said...

I will NOT be convincing you because I am in the SAME boat. We recently moved to the family farm, so we do actually have the space now for an outside dog, but ugh...babies are all I can handle! And my oldest is 3rd grade, but I know I will end up doing the yucky work! I keep telling her that if she can't even keep her room clean, how can she care for another living thing??? Good luck and stand strong! I'm interested to hear what kind people suggest, though :)

Kim said...

We ended up getting a dog (lab mix) from the humane society right before I found out I was pregnant with Olivia. Let's say that Dale had her packed up twice to take her back but they were closed, ugh. She chewed up the kids shoes, took 6 months to potty train, ran off on me constantly (but would listen to Dale), peed on my bed which permanantly stained my comforter and gets nervous and will throw up often. I tease people that we should have named her boomerang because for the number of times I have wished her gone, she just keeps coming back. We have now had her for almost 7 years. On a positive note (which it has taken me years to find something positive)she loves me no matter how many times I yell at her or forget her outside. She doesn't talk back to me like my preteen and she is not at all emotional like my one daughter. God has taught our whole family lessons through this dog.

I will say that smaller dogs eat less (less money) and their vet bills are not as expensive. Our vet charges by the weight of the dog. I'm not sure if that is how all vets operate. A shitzu mix is often a nice dog. They have great temperments, are small, cute and if they do shed it is usually in a clump that is easily picked up and thrown away.

Much love,

Anonymous said...

Hmm, it looks like we're convincing you to say no! I'm in the "if you have reservations, don't get a dog" camp. I think you should be legitimately concerned about how freaked out your younger daughter will be by a big, hyper dog. Puppies are an insane amount of work. Pets are costly, and horribly messy, even when they are successfully holding their bowels--pet hair alone messes up your house and stays for years after the dog is gone. And once you have the pet, in my mind, there's no going back (unless it's a killer or something, then you do what you gotta do). Your kids will get attached to the dog, and then you'll feel like a horrible person if you try to get rid of it at that point.

I'm not down on pets in general; I still wish we could get another cat someday (but it's not to be, my husband is completely over pets.) I just think if you have reservations, you should heed them. You deal with your kids' potty needs, their sicknesses, all the time, and while it's not fun, you do it because of that overwhelming love for your kids that makes even vomit not that bad. But for a dog? Every time you have to clean up some nasty ol' mess (and for all her good intentions, the older princess will not be doing that herself), you'll probably be grumbling about that darned dog.

On another note, in our old neighborhood, we had a couple of girls who would do pet-sitting for people, because they couldn't have pets because of their mom's allergies. Maybe your daughter could do that, with help from a parent, of course, since you wouldn't want her going to someone's house herself.

Shanda said...

Sorry oldest princess....

DON'T DO IT! Life's full of it's own challenges with a baby in the house. If you aren't into dogs (yes YOU will be doing all the work) then it will be more hassle than enjoyment. Go visit your friend's dog or offer to dogsit once in a while, but save owning one until she can handle the responsibilities herself or you are more willing to be involved.

Unknown said...

I have to agree with the four previous posters -- Don't do it!!

1. Oldest Princess can't keep her room clean for 2 days. She definitely can't care for an animal.

2. KC refuses to be responsible for a pet and doesn't want one.

3. You have your hands full with a baby & won't be able to care for the dog even though it would be your responsibility 100%. (don't kid yourself into thinking princess or KC will be any real help).

4. If the dog gets sick - KC won't pay a vet bill for more than his doctor co-pay (how much vet care can you get for $10??)

5. You don't have any money budgeted for a dog.

6. You despise dog hair in the house (again - don't kid yourself, ALL dogs shed) - And don't forget the pee and poop IN the house.

7. You can't find a babysitter for a night - how will you find a dog sitter when you go on vacation?

8. KC refuses to be responsible for a pet and doesn't want one. (I know I said that already - just driving the point home)

9.Dogs destroy things + KC gets upset when his things are destroyed = Dog destroyed by KC.

10. See #2 & #8.

Katy said...

LOLOL I like the comments and got a good laugh by them. I have to say I'm with everyone else though! I think pets are cute and fun and playful, but I think we will be getting a fish or a hamster or something a little easier before we dive into the dog thing! Maybe she would be happy with that? LOL

Kim said...

I agree w/ everyone they are a lot of work especially with a baby. I'm not real crazy about pets. We do have a chocolate lab. We got him as a puppy, and he grew up with the kids. He is such a great dog,and so good with kids, as labs are known to be. HE will literally be sleeping on the floor and my 2 year old will be climbing and jumping on him and he won't even wake up. HE takes alot of "abuse" from my kids. SO if you are thinking of a big dog, it might be good to get it while it's a puppy and maybe your one daughter won't be as intimidated by it and get use to it as it grows. They do get pretty big. He was very easy to train. He never woke me up in the night to go outside. If you have a designated kennel to keep the dog in at night and when you leave your house, they are not too likely to mess in their sleeping area, so you probably won't have to worry about that too much. MY biggest thing I couldn't stand was his shedding, but we have white floors and his hair shows more, so I constantly have to keep up with that. WEll I hope that will kinda help you, I'm not sure what little dogs are like, that's just my experience from our lab.

Crystal said...

Oh poor girl. I will agree with all... don't get a dog. I was in COLLEGE (still am) when I got Gates, I think if it weren't for Chad, he would be a bad dog. I just didn't have time. In addition to dog size, my pal had a toy something or other and her dad stepped on it, killing it! (It was a yappy Paris Hilton sort of dog) But I will say, have you thought about a cat? (girl cat) they only poop in on place (which would be easy to teach the kids to clean) don't chew, vomit, need lots of xoxox- they are relax and don't require alot of attention, all the while being an upgrade from an insulting gold fish. So, I say no DOG- yes CAT!

Anonymous said...

How about a rescue dog. I know alot of people who have adopted a dog from a rescue and have been more than happy. I don't think you should get a puppy. They are a huge amount of work. Also, don't let looks fool you. Dogs are like people. It's what's on the inside that counts. Before we got a dog for Charlie I did alot of research. Because of the number of grandkids we have besides charlie I wanted the best dog for kids. Labs won hands down and I see why. Belle is a great dog but I had to work with her alot. Took months, weeks, days and hours. We all love her though. And yes, labs are known to chew up things if they are left on their own for too long. have to watch them constantly. Anyway, probably doesn't help but I do think it's time to get oldest princess a dog. what ever you get go get as many books on that breed as you can find. it helps alot. good luck and gee Beck, We'll all love you no matter what you decide. I'll always think you are a great mom!!!

Crystal said...

PS: I hear that petting a cat is a great stress relief. I always caught my dad ( who reminds me of KC) petting and loving my cat when no one was looking. In fact, he insisted I leave Walter at home when I left for college.

Becky Avella said...

Wow! Thanks for all the feedback! Keep it coming. What do you all think about bunnies?

Sorry Crystal- King Charming and Oldest Princess are very, very, very allergic to cats. KC has allergy induced asthma and can't breathe for a week after contact with a cat. Walter sounds sweet, though.

Anonymous said...

Admittedly, I'm a dog lover, oldest daughter's grandfather, and more than a little sentimental. That said, you're all forgetting some important factors favor of getting a dog. Let me list a few from a dog lover's perspectve:
1. You correctly identify that Karissa "needs" a dog. It's in her make up and clearly not just a passing fancy. It won't "go away!"
2. Dogs are called "man's best friend" for a reason. Short of a human loved one, nothing in life will return affection and provide solace and companionship the way a dog can.
3. In your arguments against a dog, you repeatedly refer to "this may not be the best time". The average dog lives between 7 and 10 years, a few longer. Karissa is 7. Do the math! Now is the only time! It was only yesterday that you were seven, believe me.
4. Anyone who has owned labs and saw the "Marley" movie recognizes the truth of the "challenges" of raising one. I'm a lab lover and wouldn't own any other dog. That said, the first two years of their lives is what you saw in the movie, but the next 7 or 8 years, however many you're blessed with, are blessed with the finest and most loyal, calm, friend you'll ever know. You don't have to get a lab though. There's several other breeds who don't have the "retrieve it, chew it, and destroy it" personality of young labs from the get go. She just "needs" a dog.
5. Dog lovers like me would trade some dog hair, a mess now and then, the occasional vet bill,and the costs of a good invisible fence to assure the dog doesn't bother the neighbors any day for the love and companionship a dog provides for a dog lover. Karissa is a dog lover.
6. Dogs have taught me lessons in life of great importance. Yes, I had to learn some responsibility in the care, but that's the least of the important lessons. I learned lessons of loyalty, of forgiveness,and of patience I couldn't have learned any other way. Especially, I learned about death before I had to learn the lessons from the loss of human loved ones in my life. Don't minimize the power of these lessons in the development of young person's life.

I've rambled here, as I'm prone to do. But, Karissa's love for a dog of her own captured my heart years ago. I'd have bought her one long ago if it wouldn't have violated your parental decision making and I had to stand up for her here. The bottom line is dogs are good for people. They're worth the hassles. While I understand the reasoning behind all the "don't do it" comments of your readers here, none of their reasons holds an ounce of sway for me when I put it on the love scale. Don't deprive her of this opportunity to share the depth of her love with the dog she wants. Grandpa

Rae said...

Oh my goodness! Grandpa has me in TEARS!!! How unfair! How could you not give in to him? I think **we** might have to get a dog now! (Labradoodle is my breed of choice even though I'm a staunch pet-not-needer!) Good luck with your decision...

Anonymous said...

I'd have to admit that it would be a lot easier if KC would share in the raising. Doing it on your own might be as bad as being a single mom. Because Grandpa is such a dog lover, I just yell, "Sonny puked!" and run the other way. In your case it will be KC yelling and running out of the room. :) Are you willing to clean up the mess? Also, I would never get a puppy. A grown small dog will alleviate a lot of the above problems. As much as I want to see Karissa with a dog, the responsibility will fall on you. Boo Hoo.

Anonymous said... is from someone who got the puppy a year ago after being without a dog for 6 years. We will never be without a dog again. The joy and fun that Katie brings to this house is unbelievable. She is a pound puppy. She was 11 weeks old and a Border Collie/Heeler mix. They lied about the heeler, as it is more like a retreiver of some sort. Instead of 43 pounds, she is pushing 65 pounds. I was peterified of getting a puppy at first, but decided that if we got a dog and it was going to be neurotic, i decided it would be because we did and not someone else. Getting an older dog is risky, as you do not know what they have been thru. I know this from personal experience with our first dog. Due to her behavior, we think she had been abused. Even after 16 years, she still had issues with strangers, but never children.

Getting back to Katie - this time we did the crate training. What a difference it made. Katie actually loves her crate. It is a safe place for her. She goes in her crate at nightime and when we are gone during the day. She had an accident or two in the beginning, but caught on very quickly. Club soda works wonders for accidents. My husband was not too keen on getting a dog again, but he eventually gave in. I think she reduces his stress level at times. Alot of the work taking care of Katie does fall to me, because i am home most of the time. We got Katie just after Elizabeth turned 8 and i also do not have a baby crawling on the floor.

What if you wait until next year? You and KC takes some trips to the pound when the kids are at school(Mike and i did that for a few months without saying anything). I think it helped get us both in the frame of mind for a puppy and not an older dog. It also gave Mike time to come around to the idea of a dog again. I was the one pushing for a dog for the kids. This is too big a decision to rush in the next two weeks. Research different types of dogs as we did, get the baby walking and not crawling and get dog food in the budget by next year.

Karissa is welcome to come play with Katie anytime. Amy can come as well to maybe help her get over her fear. Annahlise is no longer afraid of dogs now because of Katie.

Call me anytime you want to talk puppies. Sorry for the lengthy post.

Anonymous said...

Right on grandpa!!! He is so right Beck. Princess is growing up. For all of you out there that believe she will not take care of the dog Ithink you are completely wrong. I have been around these children and their mom and dad and I believe that when the decision is made that princess is the care taker it will happen. Grandpa is right. She is a dog lover and needs one now. Also, my lab is a year old now and has never puked. LOL. Not that she won't but it's not a daily happening.

Anonymous said...

One more thing. To keep them from puking get them a good high grade dog food. Eukanuba is my choice for Belle. Costs a little more but worth every penny. Aunt Dana

Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see the comments turning more "pro-dog!" As a dog lover myself I can't imagine not having one. We've had a small dog with poofy hair and bows, a large rottweiler and many in between. We currently have a lab. You will have good days and bad just like any other member of the family, but at the end of the day it will always be worth it - just like family as well. It sounds like you might want to start with a young but housebroken smaller dog. You like the Bichons and that would probably be a decent choice (it's always harder to get really mad when they're really cute), but I would also suggest spending some time at the pound to see what strikes your eye. They always have a good selection of dogs and mutts have great reputations (just not the pit bull mutt variety, duh).
Sorry for the long comment, just wanted to make sure the dog got another vote!

Daiquiri said...

Well crud.

As you know from our conversations, I wrote a long "don't get a dog" post that mysteriously didn't get published (read: I messed up my comment somehow). Was it providence?

Grandpa has some valid points. There's actually even scientific evidence that people with dogs live longer and happier lives!

I also agree that an older dog alleviates many of the problems that you'd really only have with a puppy. It's not true that you can't teach an old dog. We got Extra as a grown dog, and she's better behaved than the one we got as a puppy! (she probably had some training before we got her I guess).

And listen - for all the whining I do about the dog messes I have to deal with - I believe that I will always have a dog (or 2). They add something to our family, and I think that there are valuable lessons to be learned from having them as pets (compassion, thinking about and caring for someone else, following through when they're counting on me even when I don't want to, death and dying, etc.)

Oh heck. I don't know.

Good ol' KC is making this a hard decision! If you were in it together, it would be different. But if he feels so strongly about it - you have to respect that too. I'm not blaming him in the least - you gotta be honest when you're talking about life changing decisions. Make no mistake...having a dog around will change things. AND all the stories about mom and dad (or just mom in your case, it sounds like) ending up with all the responsibility for the dog that the kiddo had to have...they're all true. You have to be totally committed (and hopefully a little excited?) to take this on.

A bunny would be nice, but it's not quite the same as having your dog run up to you all giddy and joyful and wiggly just because you're...there. A bunny would be sort of like having all of the responsibility without the benefits.

Your totally indecisive and hopelessly unhelpful friend.

Angie said...

Well shoot! After reading all of the other comments I'm not really sure what to say about this whole thing. I guess I will tell you my experience. As you know Becky I brought our dog home when I was 8 months pregnant with #4 and my oldest at the time was 6. First off I want to be very clear about one thing...I love Dash (our yellow lab), he is a part of our family, the kids love him, he's finally passing the "puppy" stage and I DO NOT regret bringing him home that day. That said, I have to say that I would not do it again. At least not yet. I wish I would have waited until Jacob was 10 or 11 and actually able to take the responsibility. My husband does like Dash and he's the one that cleans up after him...I would not be able to do that with 4 little kids running around. I think that it would be really hard to have to take care of the dog and all the kids at the same time. One other thing, I am glad that we chose a puppy and not a grown dog. Sure it was really hard but he grew up having my Zac climb all over him all of the time. I don't think that I would have been as relaxed had I not known where he came from. So, there's my 2 cents. Take it for what it's worth. I know you will make the right choice for you guys. Just remember this too, you have to live with KC and if he feels that strongly about it you might need to listen to his opinion a little more closely. Love you Becky...I know you will do what's best for your whole family.

Anonymous said...

Wow! You know how to get people talking, huh?
First I got to tell you that I am NOT a dog person. In fact, I have been called Cruella Deville on more than one occasion. But, my husband is a dog person through and through. So, a few weeks after moving out of our apartment and into our house, I was looking through the paper for a puppy because I love him. We got Maggie before we had kids (one year to be exact). You are right in saying they are similar to having a baby...for a while you will have to alter your schedule and there will be accidents. It is much like having a kid.
BUT, I gotta say that even though I am a dog hater, (you will not seeing me petting or talking to anyone elses dog), I love her. And yes I grumble when I have to let her out in the middle of the night or she has an accident on my floor, the truth is, I am so thankful she is part of my family.
My kids adore her and she is so patient with them. She lets my 18 mth lay on her, hug her, pull her ears... and my daughter truly adores her.. .she could say Maggie before she could say her sisters name. When I get her out of the crib and we walk in the room and see Maggie she giggles and exclaims loudly, "Maggie, Maggie!" My son brings her in to nap with him every day.
Having a dog has also made my kids much less fearful of dogs which I greatly appreciate.
I recommend you pray about it. I know your daughter has been wanting one and if you are willing to open your heart to the dog for that sake, I say go for it. If you are afraid of a puppy, you could probably find an older dog that is already housebroken. The benefit of puppies though is that you can bond as a family early on. Keep us posted on what the family decides!

Crystal said...

Alright, maybe I have had a change of heart. Perhaps a puppy wouldn't be best, but there are so many great dogs in the pound. When I was a little girl we had a Doberman pincher named Princess. (how funny) And I loved that dog, we had her for seven years, until an untimely death during a house fire in 1995. We lost everything, but the loss of our material belongings were nothing compared to the lost of our dearest family member. She was a great dog, and after reading your Dad's post and talking to your Mom at church, it's apparent that this is no phase. This is a need that should be filled, have faith in your daughter when she tells you that she can do this. I trust that she can. I found this list of things that a dog will teach the oldest Princess :
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride.
Allow the experience of fresh air &
the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.
Let others know when they've invaded your territory.
Take naps & stretch before rising.
Run, romp & play daily.
Eat with gusto & enthusiasm.
Be Loyal.
Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent,
sit close by & nuzzle them gently.
Thrive on attention & let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On hot days, drink lots of water & lay under a shady tree.
When you're happy, dance around & wag your entire body.
No matter how often you're scolded,
don't buy into the guilt thing & pout...
run right back & make friends.
Bond with your pack.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Really, I know she is just a squirt, but lets trust in Karissa to keep her word. Has she done anything to prove us wrong? Whatever you do Becky, I am sure it wil be for the best. Isn't there a saying to that? "Mother knows best?"

Brandi said...

We just got a poodle bichon mix that is very sweet! He doesn't shed and is pretty lazy (not sure if that's a breed thing or just him).

I think they are expensive though. . we got him free from my sister!

PS How about your next topic being "do you adopt or buy a dog" thoughts?

rachel said...

WELL SAID, GRANDPA!! I'm with you! We have had almost every kind of dog you can think of - from a slobbering Newfoundland who had the BIGGEST heart and adored and protected the kids; a Pyrenees; a border collie; a Spaniel; muts; 2 Old English Sheepdogs; to 5 Scotties (I don't recommend one of them for you, however, for several reasons).

My advice to you, Becky AND Pat (because it must be a mutual decision), is to let Karissa have her dog. Your Dad could not have said it better. The love she has for dogs and the love the dog would provide to her cannot be measured. Besides..."dog" spelled backwards is "God". :o) I think He created them for us for a very special purpose, and companionship is the most prized.

I would highly warn you not to get a terrior. They can be flighty, full of energy, thick-headed, and most generally are a one-person dog. They usually require a lot of grooming, unless you lean towards a wire-haired terrior breed that doesn't shed. But, terriors all have pretty much the same temperament.

As I said before, I would stay away from a Beagle for the reasons I listed. They're cute...that's all. I might also warn you not to look towards a Cocker! They are unreliable and can be mean when they get older.

As Aunt Dana and your Dad said, a lab is probably the best family dog you can own. Belle is a great dog, and David and Rachel bought another one before their old lab, Ace, died, and are considering getting another lab. Tick (his name!) is absolutely wonderful, he loves and dotes on the kids, they have mauled him since he was a puppy, and he's friendly with strangers (he will, however, notify them that someone has come into the yard). I can understand not wanting a big dog because you live in the burbs and it would have to be fenced in (all dogs are sociable and tend to wander to seek out company!).

I've never personally owned a poodle, but Aunt Patty's was so sweet, loved to sit in her lap, loved company, and was very loyal. They don't shed. They don't require grooming, tho most people do, and they are easy to feed, care for, and travel with. If you went for the smaller (toy) poodle, I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed. We absolutely loved Suzie! I bought her sunglasses! lol Oh, and I might add that cleaning up after a toy poodle is a lot easier than a bigger dog! I watched a poodle owner use a Kleenex one time to pick up a dropping while I was using a shovel for our Old English Sheepdog! lol

Another thing I might add is that most dogs take on their owner's personality. They sense so much in the way we behave around them and it can severely alter their behavior. Love is the best medicine!

Anyway...that's my 2-bits worth! And your friends' 2-bits are worth about as much! lol Take it for what you want. But I have heard WAY too much about how Karissa loves dogs and wants one of her own. Get her a dog!! She may just surprise you and Pat and be a responsible dog owner! I liked the comment about "doing the math", too! Seven is not too young to learn responsibility and caring for something you own. As long as you and Pat set some ground rules and expect her to follow them, the experience will be more rewarding.

So, Karissa, I'm with you!! I hope you get your dog!!

Love you guys! Aunt Karen

Anonymous said...

Ok Becky. I have one more suggestion from my friend Jo. We are sitting here in palm Springs laughing at some of the comments. Enjoying this immensely. She says to make sure that when you go to chose a dog to take someone with you who understands different traits and breeding. Sometimes some people are able to pick out personality. A mellow dog vs. a nervous one. Also, make sure you know the parents of the dog and better yet see them.
Aunt Dana