This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting. This month our participants are sharing their thoughts and experiences with pets and children! In this carnival, the sheer fun of having a pet shines through the posts. But having a pet is not only a fun or even an educational experience, it is even beneficial to your child's health. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
Visit The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
My story about our elder dog, Romeo, begins when I was 15. My parents were getting a divorce and my mom decided that perhaps a family dog would help ease the transition for my brother and I. So we visited the local humane society, and I fell in love with a little blond puppy with a curled tail, ears that are trying so hard to stand up but just flopped over. He had a diamond shaped white spot on the top of his head, that he still wears to this day.
Romeo could have given "Marley" a run for his money. This dog loved to dig, and he ran away a lot. Even when we filled the holes he dug with cement, he'd find a way to climb on the pile of firewood that was a little to close to the fence and use it to jump the fence. When he got out, sometimes he'd gallantly run around the block, other times he'd wander further.. and even chasing him down with fresh bacon to entice him home didn't work sometimes. And lord, this dog is FLUFFY. He's half Samoyed and the rest is golden lab and retriever.. that makes for a lot of fur.
In 2007, my father passed away from cancer, at the end of my junior year of college. I spent that summer back at home healing with my family, and was going to try to have Romeo back with me in college. My girlfriends and I had signed a lease on a good sized house with a yard, and the hope was to have him there with us. 2 out of my 3 room mates were fine with it - but one really wasn't. It wasn't an option to keep Romeo with my mom either. It tore me apart that in the wake of losing my father, I was going to lose my beloved dog as well. I cried out, what else can you take from me? Selfishly, I thought I deserved to have one thing to work out the way that I wanted it to, and that I had the right to choose what the one wish was.
I spent the rest of the summer thinking of what I can do about the situation. I hoped that I could find someone to foster him for a year, until the lease ended at my current rental and then I'd find an apartment with my boyfriend that allowed dogs.
I placed an ad on the facebook marketplace and hoped for a kind soul to reach out. Someone who would need Romeo just as much as he needed them. Someone who I could trust to take care of him, and keep me in the loop about his well being.
Right at the end of the summer, my hopes and dreams were fulfilled. Today I would have called it 'prayers,' but back then I wasn't the praying kind. A young woman, who lived not to far from my hometown, was looking for a pet. The plan was for her to foster Romeo for the next school year, and then hopefully be in the position to have him back. We talked online, and finally the day came where I dropped him off.
I think that's the day where it all came crashing down. Losing my father had been tough - but he had a 9 year battle with cancer, so it was almost like I had prepared myself for that. But leaving Romeo with essentially a perfect stranger, and hoping that everything would turn out ok (and really having no guaranteed way of knowing that it would) just broke me. I cried for the entire 2 hour drive down to where I was meeting my boyfriend after dropping him off. The memory of him running through the yard, after me, in my rear view mirror still brings tears to my eyes...he didn't know that it was just as hard for me to leave him as it was for him to watch me go.
Eventually life moved on. Romeo's "foster" mom and I kept in touch, she'd post pictures on facebook and send me updates every once in a while. After that first year, my boyfriend and I searched and searched for an apartment that would be feasible for the three of us. There wasn't anything. Some apartments allowed small dogs, but Romeo didn't really qualify, even though he was house broken and by that time well mannered. It was finally worked out that I was going to leave Romeo with his "foster" mom for good. I was so very happy that she wanted to keep him, and I knew that he would have many more happy years with her.
In the next few years, that boyfriend and I got married and both graduated college. We moved into our first 'married' home and got our first out of college jobs. We had talked about maybe one day getting another dog but our current rental still didn't allow dogs.
If there was a time in my life where I felt the hand of God, it was then. I had been so bitter and frustrated when I first gave him away. I didn't understand how the one request I had couldn't have been fulfilled. Shouldn't we get one of those when someone so dear to us passes away? I eventually just had to close my heart to Romeo, and do the best I could to not think about him. Then almost 3 years later, God put him back in my life. It wasn't during a time in my life where I was going through emotional upset and could use a pickmeup. Life was good, my husband and I were so happy, on top of the world. But Romeo's return deepened our marriage and love for one another even more. We weren't ready for kids yet, and he became the perfect outlet for our love for one another. Isn't God's timing amazing? Watching my husband begin to bond with Romeo was the sweetest thing I had ever seen. I watched a new part of his heart open up as the two of them became best buds.
Another year passed and we decided it was time for Romeo to get a little brother. In May 2011 we inducted 2 year old Squirt into our little family. Romeo definitely was accustomed to being an only child - he was accepting of Squirt but very aloof. It's almost taken a year for Romeo to warm up to Squirt; we like to think of Romeo as the old man from UP and Squirt as the little boy.
Now we have our four month old daughter to add to our little circus. She's at the stage where she watches intently when she sees one of them scratching and jingling his collar, and recently reached out to Romeo as he passed by. It's amazing to think that this animal has been through so many of my life changes with me; from coping with divorce, attending and graduating college, mourning the loss of a parent, deepening my marriage and actually getting to meet my daughter.
As the months pass by, we watch Romeo steadily slow down and ease into the comfort of the twilight of his life.. but now and again, he gets that old bee in his bonnet and bounds off after some ducks that landed in our yard.
The Positive Parenting Connection and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- A Pet's Role in the Home School — If a house isn't a home without a pet, how can you imagine homeschooling without one? Erica at ChildOrganics discusses the many benefits of home schooling with pets. .
- Toddlers and Whiskers, Co-existing as One — Mama Duck at Quacks and Waddles explains how to introduce new pets to toddlers and babies
- Children and the Death of a Pet — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama offers suggestions on how to help children work through the loss of a pet. She includes a variety of books to support both parents and children during this tender time.
- 10 Reasons to Be a Foster Family for a Pet in Need — Christy from Adventures in Mommyhood: Mommy Outnumbered gives her top 10 reasons to consider fostering a pet until a forever home can be found.
- Preparing Dogs for New Baby — Jennifer from Mother of the Pack gives advice to new parents for preparing their dog(s) for a baby
- Children, Pets and Death — Lauren at Hobo Mama has walked with her son through the untimely death of their cat, a fascinating and troubling journey.
- The Health Benefits of Having Pets — Laura from Authentic Parenting tells us exactly why having pets is beneficial to your child's health.
- Romeo, My Healing Dog — Bianca at the Pierogie Mama writes about her loveable old dog, Romeo, who at one point she had to give away but a few years later he was placed back in her life when she least expected it.
- 6 Tips to Help a Child That is Afraid of Dogs - Ariadne at Positive Parenting Connection is sharing helpful tips and using play to help children overcome a fear of dogs.
- The Value of Pets - Caroline from Stone Age Parenting writes about how pets have brought so much more than happiness to her life and how she has learned to appreciate and respond to the needs of animals and of humans.