advice to new parents with pets.

Posted: May 26, 2013 at 6:25 am

jake has been here long enough for me to know that for a beagle, he really is a pretty good dog. the problem I think was…he was living with a really nice family that was overwhelmed with having small children and just did not have time for him anymore.

but here is the thing that I see over and over when people with pets start having kids…somehow they get so overwhelmed that they turn pet care into something much bigger than it really has to be.

I see this struggle to meets the needs of new babies and existing pets with my own kids and how difficult it can be.
gawd forbid the baby has cat hair stuck on a drooly chin….to new parents it feels like bad parenting… it drives new parents crazy and I think so what, it is not like a liittle extra fur is going to hurt anyone. feelings of guilt that they don’t have the time to give the family pets as much affection as they used to…and I think, what does it take to scratch a head in passing, pick them up or bend down for a 30 second cuddle and talk to them while you are pureeing baby food in the kitchen?

and I think this is what happened to jake…the overwhelmingness of new babies and small kids made it seem like his being there was a mistake. so instead of taking a few minutes to invite him up on the bed or the couch for a cuddle while they watched tv with the baby, instead of giving him an extra treat during meal prep and telling him they loved him, instead of taking 5 minutes to toss a ball in the backyard or across the living room floor or engaging in a few minutes of bellyrubs or tug a war….he became emotionally isolated, then physically isolated until he had a ton of non family time to get into trouble repeatedly….and suddenly jake was an insurmountable problem.

cuz here is the thing..i have 100+ animals here who all need something from me and I work full time. so I have learned how to trick them into thinking their emotional needs are met. I chatter at them cheerfully, I give them a few pets and strokes periodically whenever they are before me, I toss them a few illicit treats, and while I am sweeping or washing a floor or refilling their food and water bowls or folding laundry, I good naturedly tease, joke, play with them for a moment or two.

family pets are happy if we are happy …WITH them. they do not insist on 2 hour hikes in the woods if we are just too busy. they do not absolutely have to have hours and hours lounging around on our laps..they just need to know that we LIKE being with them.
yes they shed, and sometimes they occasionally have accidents or puke up hairballs in the house but it only takes a couple of minutes to vacuum a carpet or mop up a puddle and really… we all have to clean our houses at times anyway. even homes without any pets need cleaning. just wait to see what kind of messes a 2 yr old child or 14 year old teenager can make!

loving an animal and being a good caring home does not have to cease just because there is now a baby. baby two or three might still come and families can and do stretch to accomondate the needs of each one so why not stretch a bit for the cat or the dog’s needs too.

the first step is in thinking this thru…what do these animals really need every day…food, water, exercise, mental stimulation, affection…and how can we do it with young kids. it doesn’t have to be hours dedicated each day to this…5 minutes to feed, 5 minutes to clean the litter box or let them out to pee.one minute to scratch behind their ears, 10 seconds to say I love you while looking at them. 60 seconds here and there to toss a ball in the house or pull a string across the floor, 10 seconds to reach across the couch and rub their sleeping bellies. a whole entire day just to notice and speak to them for a few seconds, here and there whenever we can.

the trick is not to resent them..the trick is to convince both you and them, that you are so very glad they are there. new parents can feel less frustratated and guilty while juggling the needs of pets and new babies..they just have to take a deep breath and realize that loving is not that much work and will not take that much time if you use what you already have …kind and caring eyes, hands, and voice…. for a few seconds here and there over the day.

7 Comments on "advice to new parents with pets."

  • Ann says

    yes! thanks for this Carol… i get so sad/angry/frustrated at the ‘had kids, must give up animal’ thinking. we all have busy lives that we fit our animals into – and they give so much back!

  • Penny says

    Off topic, not sure if I can make it up there this morning. Have some kind of bad tummy bug right now. If anyone sees this, could you please let Marta know? I may try to get up there, but could be late. Thanks.

  • Brent says

    Carol, the larger water tank has no tap/spout on it right now. Same as last year it has a crack in it so it won’t hold water. So I removed it,will repair it this week and install it next weelend, oh and both tanks are clean now.

  • Colin says

    Amen, my house is nothing but a pile of fur and my young one year old Hank (dog) had the poops the other night. Didn’t get to it in time and my husband woke up, cleaned it with towels and threw them outside. Hank didn’t even know he did anything wrong so to speak. Living with them means compromise. I wouldn’t change a thing.

    Two young boys, two young dogs and I barely do it right but everyone knows they are loved.

  • naomi says

    PLUS it is SOOOOO important for a child to be raised with pets, it teaches them so much. And gives them so much. My best friend was a mutt named Jaws throughout my teenage years, I dont know where i would be now if he hadnt had been in my life. And believe me, my parents had no extra time, but between us kids and parents, we combined enough of our time to make it work 🙂

  • Excellent blog. I would like to share it with my readers as well. Quality time vs quantity time we may it work too for well rounded balanced companions. Bravo Carol!

  • Cathy says

    I really believe this post should be in The Vancouver Sun (with names changed perhaps). Maybe it would make some people think.

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