May 9th, 2014
by RedRover Education Manager Karly Noel
Have you read The Huffington Post’s “16 Ways My Dog Has Made Me a Better Parent” by Kathryn Kefauver? It has inspired me to reflect on the different ways my own pets have helped make me a better parent.
When I was seven months pregnant, a small tan dog was found abandoned near the RedRover office. Little did I know that this sweet little stray would become our family’s “fur-st” son – our forever dog. My husband named our dog Louie.
Louie has taught us many things about parenting, and his lessons have helped us prepare for our human bundle of joy. Here are four lessons I have learned from Louie:
1. Sleep is overrated. When given the choice between catching up on sleep or watching Louie or my son sleep, I choose to spend my time just watching them and marveling at how beautiful they both are. And, since both have an incredible knack for waking up in the middle of the night to have their various needs met, sleep has become a thing of the past and so far I don’t miss it…much.
2. Greetings and goodbyes are important. Louie greets me with such enthusiasm and is so happy to see my husband or me after any time we are apart. Even a two-minute separation brings him to tail-wagging hopping excitement! He also seems to do better when we leave him alone if we have prepared him ahead of time for our absence and tell him goodbye (and maybe throw in one of his favorite peanut butter treats to gnaw on when while we’re gone). My son, too, seems to transition better when he knows what to expect and is also delighted to see us and greets us with his huge baby smile when we return!
3. Respect others’ processes even if the process is a bit icky sometimes. We process and learn things differently. Louie seems to live by a motto that goes something like, “It is impossible to truly know about something unless you try to eat it.” To this mother’s dismay, Louie and my son try to put everything in their mouths. I’ve come to recognize their need to explore and at the same time, try my best to shield them from dangers, keeping a constant eye on them both with my practiced skill of the “finger sweep” to remove miscellaneous objects from their mouths!
4. Unconditional love is truly unconditional. I don’t recommend getting a new dog when you are pregnant. But if the opportunity presents itself, I do recommend being open to it. It could turn out to be one of the best decisions you make. My infant son and Louie are growing up together. Louie is our “fur-st” son and because he entered my life, I am a better mother for the many lessons he has taught me.
Happy Mother’s Day to mothers of human children and non-human children everywhere! I hope you feel as lucky as I do to be a mom.
Read more from RedRover:
Happy ending stories about animals we’ve helped through RedRover Relief >>
What’s wrong with talking animals in children’s books? Tips for parents and educators >>
Life at RedRover: Karly and Louie >>
How have animals helped you in your life? Leave a comment below to tell us how!