Confessions of a stay at home dog mom

This one is for all the dog lovers out there. I have become one of those “dog-moms” – you may know the type. We’re the ones who talk to their pets as if they are children and thinks everything they do is photo worthy. So, if you don’t get the “pupsession”, you may want to skip today’s column. Still reading? You must be a fellow dog lover – or maybe you just want to know what makes us tick.

We’re pretty easy to spot. It’s the protective cover in the back seat of the car. The leashes and poop bags hanging from hooks in the garage. The “chewy” boxes on the porch.  And inside the house: baskets of chew-toys, canisters of dog treats, pet beds, dog gates – and for those with elderly, or incontinent canines, even pee-pee pads. Possibly the most telling clue; the flurry of dog photos on social media posts, up to and including separate pet Instagram accounts!

In fact, I probably follow more pet Instagram accounts than humans. I find them uplifting and entertaining. And there’s no competition or FOMO with a pet post. They make me smile, laugh or go “aww” and then quickly share with my friends and family.

Speaking of family, mine will occasionally claim that the dogs get the best treatment in the household. But is it so wrong to tell the dog that they are “such a handsome boy” or to to give them the best spot on the couch? Conversely, when the kids call on Facetime, their first request is to see the dogs. Usually, they’re doing one of three things; napping, licking themselves, or standing at the door to go outside or inside for the 50th time. But for some reason, watching them do normal “dog things” is fascinating.

Although retirement and empty-nester status has kicked my dog mothering behavior into high gear, the truth is, I’ve always had a soft spot for pups. Dogs have been a part of our family since before we had the kids.

Our first pet, a Golden Retriever we named Barron, was on the scene a year before our daughter was born. But he happily accepted that he was not our top priority when Monica arrived. Three years later, our son Michael came along and we became “that family” with the two kids and a Golden Retriever.

Barron lived to the ripe old age of 12. By then, we knew our family wasn’t complete without a dog, and we ventured to the heart of Wisconsin to collect our second Golden – an adorable blond pup we named Cooper.

When Cooper was around four and was (finally) starting to calm down, my husband became enamored with a little dog someone brought to our son’s baseball game. After finding out the breed, he decided we had to have one of our own.

Enter Dash, a hearty little Havanese who quickly became the alpha dog in our pack of two, and my husband’s constant companion. Anyone who’s witnessed a grown man carry a fluffy little dog around like a baby can relate.

When our sweet Cooper passed away several years later, we’d gotten accustomed to having two dogs around the house and Dash seemed a little lonely. You see where this is going, right?

This time my husband and son made the trek to Michigan to collect Louie, an adorable, goofy (and very slobbery) Italian Spinone. Dash, who weighs in at 20 pounds was able to retain his alpha role even as Louie grew into 90 pounds of lovable bird dog. You just don’t mess with the little dogs.

We’ve been dog owners for over 30 years, and while the dogs have gone from energetic pups to elderly nappers, the unconditional love they provide has remained constant. Anyone who’s been greeted by wagging tails and slobbery kisses upon returning home gets this. There is no judgment. Only requests for treats.

Our pets have become such fixtures that we pretty much start each day on their schedule. Rising with the sun, they are usually fed by 6am. Then they go back to sleep for a post breakfast nap. Most days, Louie gets a long walk while Dash takes more naps (he is thirteen after all).

I’m sure I’ve logged thousands of miles walking my dogs over the years. I love watching them bound along, sniffing and marking as they explore the same route day after day. They never seem to tire of a good walk. It’s also a great way to meet fellow dog owners in the neighborhood. There is that sense of camaraderie. It’s hard not to be happy while walking a dog.

Dogs also provide a level of built in security. Mine will bark at anything and everything encroaching on our home – whether it be a squirrel, a doorbell on TV, an Amazon delivery or possibly even a burglar. And once they start barking, it’s hard to get them to stop.

When we travel with our pups, we’ve found no shortage of pet friendly hotels and rest stops with dog runs. Dogs seem to be welcome just about everywhere these days, from cafes to department stores. They walk (or lie) around like they own the place. And sometimes it seems like we’re just here to make sure they’re comfortable.

Pet ownership does have its challenges; the vet bills (highest at puppy and elderly stages), the “carpet accidents”, the various versions of shedding, drooling, chewing, digging, counter-surfing, and more – that make even the staunchest of dog lovers occasionally question their sanity. But it’s a small price to pay for those adorable, non-judgmental, soulful eyed, loyal companions. Dog lovers unite!

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