In my family, if I'm looking at my phone and start whimpering, someone will inevitably ask, "Did you see a picture of a cute puppy again?" The thing is, it's simultaneously a joke and also a pretty good guess, because dogs are amazing and thinking about snuggling them makes me emotional. The same can be said of babies. The combination of the two? I run the risk of actually dying of happiness. For this and other reasons, there are rules for having your dog around my kid.
Despite my overwhelming, manic love of our four legged friends (OMG, and also the three and two legged ones who lost limbs because of disease or abuse: they need even more love! Guys, I'm crying again!), I do not own a dog. There are a few reasons why and none of them make me happy. For starters, my apartment is small and there's already 4 people living here. Honestly, it feels roomier ever since our dearly beloved kitty died, and a cat is way smaller and lower maintenance than a dog. Secondly, my two children are basically puppies that can talk and wear clothes. They're energetic, destructive, messy, playful, and require most of my time, energy, and financial resources. Adding a third, similar creature could be disastrous. Finally, because my jerk of a partner (only slightly kidding) has vetoed the whole affair (and since this is a marriage of equals and we both have veto powers even when one person is being really, really mean and not thinking about how ridiculously cute it would be to have a dog) I'm doing that whole compromising thing which means, sadly, no furry friend for me.
Because I long for a dog, I get really excited when I have the opportunity to be around one, and that includes having people bring them over to my place. My kids get excited, too, and will spend as much time as possible around their new fur-friend. Here's the thing with kids, though: they need to be taught (and reminded, again and again and again) of absolutely everything, especially when it comes to rules of behavior and social engagements. While it's totally worth it to have a friend's dog and my kids in the same place, I will be spending a lot of energy managing my little ones to make sure they don't go all Lenny from Of Mice and Men on your puppy.
So, I'm going to need you to make sure your dog doesn't go Cujo. I'll keep up my end of things, but here's what I need you to do:
If You Have Been Invited To Join My Family, Please Ask Before You Bring Your Dog
I feel like 85-95% of dog owners instinctively get this, but some of y'all really do need to take note. Look, I like, love dogs. But neither my home nor my children are accustomed to dogs. So, if you show up on my doorstep with a potluck dish in one hand and a Pomeranian in the other, you've left me in the awkward position. I'll either lack the ability to say no to you (and hey: I like dogs but a lot of people have serious reservations, anxiety, or allergies when it comes to them) or I'll potentially end up scrambling around, making last minute accommodations for your dog. Or, of course, I'll be preparing my child for the presence of a dog, which can go one of a few ways, and none of them smoothly.
If Necessary, Please Keep A Leash On Your Dog
I'm sorry, but I get judged if I put my kid on a leash, so the onus is really on you to keep Fido in check. Ideally (and not unrealistically) this won't be necessary. Maybe your dog is totally zen and my kids are on their best behavior and not inciting your pup to energetic frenzy. I find this often happens after the first half-an-hour or so, during introductions, and then everyone settles down and gets along famously, no leashes required. However, until such a moment arrives, sorry, but a leash would be nice. I'll wrangle my kid, certainly, but if the only way you can do the same with your dog is to keep it on a leash, so be it.
Don't Assume Your Dog Is Incapable Of Hurting A Child
"Oh don't worry," parents are routinely assured, "She's friendly." I'm not saying you're wrong about your dog being a sweetheart (just wook at dat widdle face!), but I am saying that even a friendly dog can do damage and constantly insisting your dog is friendly, isn't going to keep me from worrying. Certainly it isn't a reason to leave a dog and a child unattended.
Please Clean Up After Your Dog, As My Child Is Not Above Playing With Poop If They Find Some Lying Around
Again, a great majority of dog owners would never dream of leaving dog poo in their host's yard, but nevertheless, I urge you: when you and you dog are visiting a home with children, please pay particular attention to where your puppy might be doing their business. Kids are gross. And excrement? Well, kids do not shy away from poop, so it's not off the menu (and I'm not just talking about the metaphorical menu). I mean kids eat dog poop sometimes. So please, please don't put me, as a parent, in the position to wrestle a dog turd out of my kid's hand or, please no, dig it out of their mouth a week after you've left.
Please Run Interactions Between The Two Of Them By Me, Before You Suggest Anything To My Kid
You may know your dog and their threshold to deal with children, but I know my kid. I definitely know my kid better than my kid knows themselves. So, even if they're all about, say, taking the dog for a walk around the yard with your blessing, or playing fetch, I may see how disastrously these proposals will go before they ever manifest. Seriously, you guys, I'm like a parenting prophet.
Now, chances are I'm going to be totally down with your dog and my kid having an adorable, supervised moment. I will probably take a million pictures of said event and IG the shit out of it. But maybe there are reasons, unbeknownst to you, that whatever has been suggested isn't such a grand plan. In that case, it's best not to suggest it to the kid only to have mom veto it. Yes, dashing capricious dreams for a child's own good is part of my job description as a mother, but it's one of my least favorite aspects of the gig, so I try to avoid it when I can. Help a girl out.
If I Tell My Kid No To "Something" Regarding Your Dog, Please Don't Insist Otherwise Within Their Hearing
Please just trust that I know what I'm talking about. I did not ask to be a mom-prophet. For a prophet's life is fraught with misunderstandings. Easily, 1/3 of the time someone is angry at you, another 1/3 of the time they just see you as an annoying buzzkill, and the remaining 1/3 of the time someone is angry that you did not warn them more strenuously that they should have listened to you.
Please Be Aware That My Child Drops Food. Like, A Lot.
I'm going to do my best to pick up the haphazardly discarded food ASAP, but sometimes a random slice of cheese or chocolate granola bar is going to slip past the goalie, and I don't want your dog to get sick or gassy or whatever. This is just something you should be aware of. Rest assured, I am working my best to handle this entirely on my own, but consider this a head's up that your diligence and assistance, to preserve the well-being of your dog, is appreciated.
My Child Doesn't Know Your Dog Is "Just Playing," So Please Don't Let It Continue
Look, I know your dog is a sweetheart and jumping up on my toddler isn't malicious. I also know that, despite both of our best efforts, this might happen anyway. Please, let's work really hard to keep both my kid and your dog from being rough with one another. Not only do I want to teach my kid to be gentle with our animal friends, but I don't want an overly playful lab 4x bigger than my 2 year old to freak her out and turn her off to dogs forever.
If Your Dog Has Not Historically Gotten Along With Kids In The Past, Please Consider Leaving Them Home Or With A Sitter
For real: live and learn, dude. There will be other times to chill with your BFFs and your puppy, but maybe around kids just isn't one of them. It's going to be less stressful and annoying for everyone involved, including you and your dog.
I Promise To Have Patience With Your Dog, So Please Extend The Same Courtesy To My Child
W.C. Fields famously said, "Never work with animals or children." There's a very good reason for that: both are impulsive, tough to wrangle, and constantly acting in a way that is completely inappropriate in the context of polite society. As a puppy parent and a human-puppy parent, we both have a tough row to hoe. So let's make a deal: we're both going to try out best to make sure our beloved sweeties are kind and gentle with one another and don't leave anything on the floor that, if eaten, will make the other sick. Hey, despite our best intentions, sometimes your dog might knock my kid over or my kid might yank your dog's ear. Let's make another deal: when we try to keep it all together and things go awry anyway, we'll treat each other with graciousness.
Finally, let's make one final agreement: there is very little on this earth more adorable or soothing to the soul than seeing a dog and a little kid getting along.
Come on. I don't care how you feel about dogs or babies: that's the cutest f*cking thing that ever was or ever will be.