It can be a long stretch of time between having your own babies and grandbabies, which is why it’s a good idea to get a dog. Puppies are not only a reminder of how it is to have a vulnerable creature entirely dependent on you, they reintroduce you to sleep deprivation, mushy baby talk and crawling around on the floor on your hands and knees.
This is why I say everything I know about grandbabies I learned from my dog. They have so much in common in their formative stages. They learn fast but take orders only when they feel like it. They insist you be agile, mindful and forgiving, while turning you into willing servants and causing you to fall silly in love.
My husband and I have one dog in the house and two young grandchildren who live nearby. A three and a half year old and a five month old. The dog came first and like all new dog owners we were stunned at how freely we gave over our house, our social schedule and, yes, even our bed to the dog.
She is six years old but I still call her “puppy.” I also call the grandchildren “puppy.” It’s my favorite endearment.
We spoiled the dog. She eats at will, gets walked three times a day even in the rain and is allowed on the furniture. She’s a loveable inconvenience, demanding and often underfoot. So, it was not a big adjustment bringing grandbabies into our house which we do one day a week.
When the dog was tiny we kept elaborate notes on what she ate, when she slept, how much and where she eliminated. We did the same with the first grandbaby and now with her little brother. We are veteran poop reporters.
Everything I know about grandbabies I learned from my dog.
There are major differences, of course, between the two. Babies need to be carried about which makes them harder on your back. You can’t ignore a crying baby like you can a barking dog. On the other hand, a baby outgrows her crying when she starts talking. A dog never stops barking, at least not this one.
Dogs are more mobile. You open the car door and the dog jumps in and that’s it. Getting a child in a car seat requires a manual, two grandparents and a lot of practice. Going for a walk with a dog requires a mere leash and a plastic bag. With a baby, you have to figure out which button pops open the stroller and which straps go under his arms and which ones around his little legs and then what to pull to cinch it all tight. By which time the baby is howling and so is the dog.
Dogs and little kids do make great accessories. You can take them around town and people will smile and sometimes stop to talk. People get to know you by your little companions. But greet them on the street minus your dog or grandbaby and they act like “who, you?”
We made the house dog-proof before we made it baby-proof but it was kind of the same thing. The dog had a playpen, a special bed, gates to keep her from falling off the deck and her own shampoo, the no-more-tears kind. Same with the kids.
Both creatures are adoring and make you feel essential. But they’re fickle and will crawl into just about any lap. Plus they drool. For sure, the house would be a lot quieter and neater without them. But, pretty empty, too.