Would you let your dog lick your childs face? This is a pretty strange question, I know. If you have a dog and also have children, you may have dealt with this situation. I personally LOVE to watch it. Let me explain...
My first Loves
Before I met my husband my heart belonged to Reese. We all have a time in our life when we need something to pick us up from a bad fall. My dog Reese came into my life at 8 weeks old and he was the best little pick me up that anyone could ask for. He was my first "baby" and the only male that truly mattered (until I met my husband). One memory I will never let go of is the introduction of Kevin to Reese. When I brought him over, the first thing he did was rough house with Reese but in that moment I noticed that he played with my dog EXACTLY the same way that I played with my dog. If you are a dog owner, you know that we all have our own way of rough housing and loving on our pets. I somehow knew in this moment that I witnessed Kevin loving on my "little boy" that he was a keeper and I could tell Reese felt the same.
Soon after Kevin and I decided to become an official couple we decided that we should find a friend for Reese. After a few failed attempts at looking for a rescue dog, our little Biscuit, fell right into our laps. Literally. I lived in a small apartment at the time and I heard a dog howling for three days straight. On the third day I was ready to go and tell the office that they should check around the building to see if a dog was left alone. That night my husband noticed a white dog behind some fencing across the street from my unit. We took Reese down after dinner and I pulled the fencing apart with enough space for her to come with us if she wanted. Reluctantly, SHE DID! She followed us home, (up four flights of stairs) and slept on my back porch without howling... Well, she began to howl but I told her "NoOoOOo" and THAT was the last time we heard her howl. The next day we checked to see if she had a chip and since she did not, we felt it was meant to be and she has been with us ever since.
Something To Look Forward To
With the two fur babies I could tell that Kevin would be a patient and caring father. I was not worried when we found out that I was expecting one bit. Somehow I knew that our little family would be just fine expanding with a new baby girl. Part of this was watching the dynamic fold and bend with the addition of Biscuit. The relationship with my daughter and the dogs has evolved into something truly beautiful! Biscuit has been a mommy from day one and greets with never ending kisses. When I say never ending that is not an exaggeration, they really are never-ending. Reese has had to adjust to a new baby and now two babies but he has learned a lot! Presently, he is very aware of my newborn son and enjoys laying next to him while napping. Anastacia and Ethan now have two friends waiting for them every day. My daughter has begun to look for the dogs (after she wakes from sleep) every time I open her door. It is the sweetest to watch her face light up as they run into the room and await her departure from her crib.
Over the past two years we have learned a lot about personal boundaries. My dogs are extremely affectionate animals. Remember those never ending kisses I mentioned? Well sometimes they are met with a hand, firmly blocking the spot they are looking to kiss. Let's be clear, not a swat but a palm in place of the space they were looking to connect with. I do not believe in hitting to accomplish anything. I don't think it is a bad thing to allow my dogs to kiss my babies as they are showing their love and devotion but there are limits. It has been an adjustment for my puppies and I recognize this which is why I try not to be too picky about what they can and cannot do. I try to stay as tight to the same rules we had prior to the children and we definitely welcomed a good amount of slobbery kisses, before kids. I have read that pets help to boost immunity from allergies and other illnesses and so I don't harp on them too much when they are close to the little ones. They were never allowed to take our things and therefore we make sure they are aware that the children's things are off limits as well. I think one of the best things about the dogs being in the home with my babies is that they will learn about sharing and caring in a way that is not spoken. Personal space is hard to teach to a child but if you have pets, you watch your little ones fight to keep their bubble in tact. So many teachable moments go into our relationship with these dogs and for that I am truly grateful. Our dogs have truly been a blessing as they are helping to teach social skills, day in and day out.
I know that each animal is different and we have definitely been through some growing pains with ours. It is not easy to keep your bond with your pets as close and warm at all times when you bring children into your home/family. I am happy that our puppies have decided to also love our babies as we love them. Puppy love is sweet! However, nothing is sweeter than watching your babies grow to love your pets and watching your pets grow to love your babies.