Your kids are begging for a pet. Pleading for a pet. Promising things like picking up poop and walking miles in the rain with their puppy.
P L E A S E. Can. We. Have. A. Pet?
Our kids wanted a dog. The campaigning began a couple of years ago, even after 10 years of telling them that there was NO way I was EVER getting a dog. Ask anyone; everyone knows I was NEVER getting a dog. Ever.
Meet Chloe. Our one year old Havanese.
So how did this happen you ask? I blame my friends mostly. Those active and busy friends we have, they got a puppy. They said it was great. They said a puppy fit their busy family schedule just fine. They somehow had me considering it.
There must have been a lull in the excitement at our house or I temporarily blanked out the past 10 years I swore I would never get a dog. Somehow my mind was changed and we are about to celebrate one year of owning our cute fluffy puppy. And it's been good! Once we got past the puppy puddles on the carpet and accepted the puppy toys all over the house, I can say that our puppy has fit quite well into our active family.
Before Getting a Pet, Do a Reality Check
Be sure to take stock of your average day, the hours spent carpooling to activities, outdoors being active, at work and in school. Realize that no matter how busy you are, the right pet will likely fit right in. Take into account the age of your kids and be realistic on how much they will be able help. Understand that no matter how old or responsible your kids are, YOU will do the majority of the pet care.
Look at All Breeds, Sizes, Personalities and Athletic Ability
For our active family we needed an active pet, big enough to be outside and active but small enough to be portable and cute enough that others would volunteer to pet-sit while we were on vacation or running marathons. We decided on a small dog and chose the breed carefully as well. No shedding, minimal barking, easily trained, good with kids, hypo-allergenic as possible and active.
Be Prepared to Change
When you get a pet things change – some are healthy lifestyle changes and some can make you cranky at times. For starters, you get up earlier. They are furry little alarm clocks!
We walk to school everyday now. Dog needs a walk, kids need to get to school. Both the puppy and our family are benefiting from the twice daily 2km walks to and from school.
Kids are outside every single day - rain, snow, summer sun – puppy needs her daily outdoor play time and kids signed up to do it...remember, kids?
We now do pet friendly 5km family runs. Yes, this family on the run even has a dog that runs. It started when she was 9 months old and I took her out for a 3km run. She never broke stride and by the time she was 11 months old our puppy was running 5 km with me and still looking for someone to play with after. She has since crossed a 5km finish line in 30 minutes in a full Santa Suit. Yes, we dress the dog too. Sigh.
Pack the Puppy
Get one that is portable. Our puppy goes everywhere with us. She hikes, dresses up for trick or treating, has been to triathlons, ski hills, snow tubing parks, parades, camping and to the drive in. She sat on Santa's lap, learned to swim in a lake and loves to kayak, paddleboard, surf, play soccer, and football.
Our active life hasn’t slowed down at all because we have a puppy, in fact, she encourages us to go for even more family hikes and has become quite adaptable to long road trips and taking on new adventures. And the kids are still picking up the poop . . . after we ask them several hundred times.