My first taste of parenting has come in the form of four legs. Matt and I discussed adding a dog to our family long before we ever considered children. When we moved to Georgia we considered getting a puppy but then decided to wait until our move to Colorado to become pet owners. After much research and deliberation, we settled on a Belgian Malinois named Eros. We “adopted” him from a breeder in New Mexico when he was just about one year old. I still remember the excitement and anticipation as we drove 7 hours, through the night, to pick up the new little member of our family. We made all the arrangements to get him in Georgia, so we were taking a risk that he would be the perfect family pet for us. I still remember his little face as he walked outside the breeder’s house to meet us. As soon as we saw him and started playing a little game of fetch we knew he would be perfect for us. Later that evening we arrived back at our home in the Springs and the “parenting” began.
Eros was already a fairly well trained dog, but living the first year of his life on a ranch with 40 other dogs and only two others humans gave us our fair share of challenges integrating him into life at our house. With patience and persistence we have trained Eros to be an excellent member of our family, and within a few months of owning him, it was evident that our lives would forever be changed.
Our weekend mornings usually spent sleeping in were no more, as Eros enjoys waking up by 5:00 a.m. for his morning breakfast and potty break. Our adventures as a couple were tailored to include our four legged friend, and anytime spent away from the house had to be limited to 4-5 hours stints. Along with these changes came a deep love and attachment to the little pup that I would not give up for anything. He really is like our fist born child. Matt and I get excited and proud when he learns a new trick; we worried about him like crazy the few times he has been to the vet; we talk to him like he understands us. Basically, we treat him like another member of the family and have to remind ourselves at times that he is just a dog. Eros was actually the reason I started thinking about children. I thought, wow, if I feel this much love and nurturing instinct for a dog, then maybe I am ready to be a mom.
Well, here we are nearly nine months later expecting our first child and I have to thank Eros for helping prepare me for motherhood. I also have to start planning how I am going to integrate my only FurChild with our new baby. Eros loves being the center of attention in Matt and I’s world, and we love showering him with our love. However, when Baby Schardt comes, Eros is going to have to learn to share his attention with another person. I have a feeling that he is not going to like this too much. I am confident in time, that Eros and the baby will grow up to be great buddies, but it definitely won’t happen overnight. I have been reading some books and articles on Preparing Your Dog for a New Baby, and have been making some changes now in Eros’ life so that he does not resent the baby when it comes home. I also purchased a CD with baby noises (crying, cooing, tantrum, etc) to prepare him for some new sounds he may be hearing around the house, and soon I plan to start carrying around a baby doll from time to time just so he gets used to me paying attention to something else other than him. I will keep you all posted on how this transition goes. I love my Eros and I already love this little baby growing inside me, so I am making it one of my top priorities to ensure that the integration of the two goes smoothly.