There’s a Lot to Do to Prepare for a New Baby, So We…Got a Puppy
From conversations with family and friends, it seems that most couples spend the last few weeks prior to welcoming their first child preparing the house, reading parenting books, and putting sleep in the bank. My wife, Vicky, and I, however, decided on an alternate path and bought a 14-month old, nearly 80-pound Bernese Mountain dog.
Vicky’s rationale for this decision was that we could train the dog during our winter vacation, and when she started on maternity leave, could get the dog on a schedule. Although I was hesitant about bringing a baby and dog into our life within the span of two months, Vicky’s points seemed valid, and her sob story about being denied a dog as a child was the final nail in the coffin: We were getting a dog.
While my ostensible reason for getting the dog was to support Vicky, I was also interested in trying out on the dog some of the parenting principles we had been reading about. We asked friends for advice, reflected on our own childhoods, and discussed, at length, the different ways, both good and bad, that our friends and siblings were raising their children. The foundations of our parenting philosophy included providing ample time for “awakening,” a philosophy espoused in Pamela Druckerman’s fantastic parenting book, Bringing up Bebe; creating rules and sticking to them; and not spoiling our child. We also agreed to not be blinded by our child’s anticipated brilliance and beauty.
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Our actions during the first six weeks as dog owners, however, looked nothing like our decided-upon parenting philosophy and portended serious issues for how we would raise our child.
The foundation of our parenting philosophy crumbled before we even picked up Sierra from the breeder. Although we have two couches and enough comfortable rugs to host a sleepover for every animal living within a mile of our house, Vicky ordered Sierra a memory foam bed that is supposed to alleviate joint pressure for large dogs. That the dog had yet to move into the house but had a more comfortable bed than my own was an ominous sign. Much like the months leading up to our wedding, packages piled up outside our apartment during the weeks prior…