May 11, 2014

Happy Mother’s Day

Posted in: Dog

helenaandtoby2

I imagine for a lot of women, a furball is their first experience of motherhood. Clearly, being a mother to a pooch is a walk in the park, compared to being a mother to a child. However, I believe the foundation of raising a great pooch is very similar to raising a great child. You want your pooch to be toilet trained, socialise well with others, not bark, behave in public, be independent, learn not to be fussy with food, respect and understand you and others…and so on. I’m pretty sure most people want these things for their child as well (especially the no barking part).

Here are some reasons why there are similarities between raising a dog and a child.

There is a lot of information out there

Raising a puppy is no easy feat. If you want a great dog, you have to put in great energy and effort. Before Toby came home, I read a ton of books, googled the life out of the interwebs trying to find out all the dos and don’ts of raising the perfect puppy. The more I read, the more overwhelmed I felt and realised there was just so much to learn and there was so much time I had to invest to make sure I didn’t get it wrong and sew bad seeds into the bringing up of Toby. I hear this is very similar to what a lot of new mums do and feel as well, information overload and then an overpowering sense of, what if I stuff it up.

Toilet training can be difficult

While I was studying at uni, my part time job was being a nanny. I loved it and I loved that I got such fantastic insight into the highs and lows of raising a child. I started nannying Cleo when she was 8 months old till the age of 4. During that time, one aspect that was a difficult process for her mum and I was toilet training her. It was difficult, just like it is with puppies. Puppies are full of wee and poo and they can’t control their bladders for what feels like many, many lifetimes. It takes a lot of patience, attention and understanding of the biology of your puppy and the reasons why it takes such a long time for them to be house trained, to take into consideration. The frustration that comes with toilet training a pooch has the same frustrations to toilet training a toddler.

Everyone wants to give you their 2 cents

My friend once said, when she was pregnant, everyone wanted to stop her in the street and offload all their experiences with pregnancy. She said that even now, being a mother, everyone wants to give her their expert advice. She said, ‘Am I really that exhausted that I don’t even remember putting a permanent sign around my neck that says, ‘Hey, please stop me and tell me everything about what you did raising your child. I’m dying to know!’ When I started taking Toby to the dog park as a puppy, the advice that was flying around as to whether to desex or not, how many times a year I should wash him, when to give him a haircut, where he should sleep, what to feed him, to get pet insurance or not, was flying at me quick and fast.

You need to teach them right from wrong

You need to teach a child how to behave, they don’t come into this world knowing what to do, that’s your job. Parents teach their children not to pick their nose and wipe it on someone, not to take their clothes off when they are out in public, not to draw a picture for mummy on the walls. It’s also a parent’s job to make sure they don’t get hurt by teaching them not to put their hand on a hot stove, chase cars, dive into the bathtub. Guess what, with dogs it’s the same deal. You teach them not to chew your shoes, sunglasses, and furniture. You teach them not to bark at every noise they hear, beg at the table, and scratch at the door. You also show them how to stay safe by teaching them commands such as Stop, Wait, Come and No.

You have to be mindful of what you feed them

Nutrition in children and dogs is so important and is something that should be taken seriously. The quality of what is put into any kind of mouth determines the quality of life. Giving your dog a healthy, balanced diet provides nutrients for a strong body. These nutrients give them energy and keep their heart beating, their brain active, and their muscles working in the right condition for a longer period of time. Give them food full of nasty, processed chemicals that lack nutrition and very quickly their value of life goes down hill. Nutrients also help build and strengthen bones, muscles, and tendons and also regulate body processes, such as blood pressure. Good nutrition can also lower your pooch’s risk of developing a range of chronic diseases.

You light up talking about them

Whenever someone asks me how Toby is, I light up and get verbal diarrhoea. I chew their ear off about what Toby did last night, what he did at the park the other day, what he did at Daycare, the new cute little thing he has started to do and so on. Do people really want to hear all that? Probably not, but they did ask and I just can’t help myself. Pretty much every mum in the world lights up talking about their child (that light kind of fades when talking about teenage children, I remember this from my mum) and can’t help but over share with anyone who asks.

It’s cute when they are little, not so much when they’re older

Isn’t it funny how babies and toddlers can get away with so many bad traits because we see them as being cute, but get to a certain age and it becomes annoying and very much, ‘What the?’ For example, a baby spitting out their food because they don’t like the taste is pretty cute but if a 5-year-old child did that? Not so cute. Things that seem really cute that puppies do don’t end up being cute as an adult so it is important to nip all annoying habits and traits in the bud early to make sure all the humans in your life don’t find your fur child annoying.

Obviously, raising a dog does not prepare you for raising a child but it is undeniable that there are many similarities between raising humans and raising four legged humans. Dogs are family, every dog lover will tell you that, there is no denying it. They come into your life and they change you, they become apart of you and the love you develop for them is unconditional. Toby is my family, he is one of the most important parts of my family and I love him with every corner of my heart.

I think I have done a good job raising Toby, there are areas that I could improve on, there are areas that I have let slip, but at the end of the day, Toby is a furball that I am so incredibly proud to call my son. He has allowed me to get a glimpse into motherhood, he has allowed me to feel like a mother and he has made me feel the love that mothers feel towards their children. I always say to Toby, ‘If I feel the love I have for you towards my children, I am so excited to have more of that love flying around this place.’

Whatever kind of mother you are, I hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day and the souls you look after said, ‘Thanks for all you do for me.’ Toby has given me lots of licks today, I’m pretty sure each one means, ‘Thanks for giving me a good life.’

Happy Mother’s Day!